Grant Lucas – Sports editor.
Following a loss to No. 6 Lewis-Clark State College on Feb. 18, the Linfield baseball team fell to Division II Western Oregon University on Feb. 19. The ’Cats bounced back the next day with a rout of the Saint Martin’s University Saints that was followed by another loss to LC-State on Feb. 21.
The Wildcats home-opener against the Corban College Warriors fared well, however, as Linfield came out victorious 11-6.
With a 2-3 record during the previous week’s games, Linfield holds a 6-3 overall record.
After a big inning downed the Wildcats on Feb. 18, they remained positive as they entered Feb. 19’s matchup against the Western Oregon Wolves.
Linfield jumped ahead early when junior designated hitter Kevin Coleman drove in two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Junior rightfielder Cole Bixenman added to the ’Cats’ lead in the third, recording a two-RBI base hit that gave Linfield a 4-0 lead.
After Wildcat sophomore pitcher Ryan Larson held the Wolves to two hits through three innings, Western Oregon came alive in the fourth with five runs.
The Wolves strung together three consecutive hits to drive in their first run of the game. Larson then hit two batters, forcing in the second run. WOU junior firstbaseman Joe Pratt brought the Wolves closer with a sacrifice fly that brought in a third run. A wild throw on the play allowed the tying score to cross the plate. The scoring was capped off with an RBI single by senior leftfielder Devon Bouvier.
WOU sophomore relief pitcher Kirk Lind entered the contest and held Linfield scoreless for the remaining four innings, striking out five Wildcat batters en route to
Coleman, Bixenman and seniors firstbaseman Rhett Fenton and shortstop Kelson Brown led the way for the ’Cats, tallying two hits apiece.
Linfield used its two-game losing streak as motivation during its game against Saint Martin’s University on Feb. 20.
Brown stayed hot as he contributed five hits — two of which were home runs. The rest of the lineup proved to be just as effective as the Wildcats finished the day with 20 hits during their 11-3 win against the Saints.
Fenton, Bixenman, Coleman, senior Tyson Smith and junior Dustin Smith all recorded three hits during Linfield’s rout.
Linfield attained its largest lead of the game in the fifth when Coleman drove in a run soon after Brown smashed his third bomb of the season.
Sophomore pitcher Casey Cameron earned his first victory of the season after striking out five batters through five innings of work.
Before the weekend was out, Linfield faced LC-State once again in the tournament’s finale. This time, however, the Warriors left no hope for the ’Cats.
LC-State scored nine runs off eight hits through the first three innings, knocking Brown out of the game after two innings.
Warrior junior pitcher Tyler Knigge was credited with the win, throwing four scoreless innings.
LC-State was also led by junior outfielder Bryan Abrey, who went 4-for-5 with two RBIs.
But Brown didn’t let pitching woes slow him down at the plate, as he finished with three hits.
The Wildcats held their home-opener against Corban on Feb. 25, and they struck early in the matchup.
Tyson Smith led off the inning with a single to left field. Soon after, he stole second base. A few batters later, Bixenman skied a ball to centerfield that was deep enough for Smith to tag up and score.
In the second, sophomore left fielder Zach Boskovich stole the third Wildcat base of the game after he was hit by a pitch.
Senior catcher Mitch Webb then singled, driving in Boskovich.
After Webb took second, Larson tallied a hit that allowed Webb to score.
Later in the inning, Brown recorded an RBI, making the score 4-0.
The Wildcats added four more runs during the next three innings, including a solo home run by Fenton in the third.
Junior pitcher Evan Hilberg shut down Corban through five innings, allowing five hits and striking out six.
Following four runs by the Warriors, junior Spencer Crepeaux came in for relief and promptly retired the next two Corban batters.
After two Warrior eighth-inning runs, Wildcat senior pitcher Kyle Mossbrucker entered the game, holding the Warriors to one hit during the final two innings.
Tyson Smith paced the ’Cats with three hits, two runs scored and four stolen bases.
Boskovich added two hits of his own with one leaving the park.
Linfield will continue play in the Jim Doran Classic when it hosts the University of Puget Sound on Feb. 26.