The Linfield baseball team showcased its dominant offense, outscoring Lewis & Clark College 38-11 during the Wildcats’ three-game sweep at home April 10-11.
Linfield improved to 14-4 in Northwest Conference play and 22-8 overall and remains in second place behind Pacific Lutheran University.
Senior first baseman Rhett Fenton led the Wildcat onslaught with a three-home run game, equaling the Linfield single-game record. Senior shortstop Kelson Brown added four hits and two RBIs in the Wildcats’ 16-1 win in the first game of the series.
Brown began the Linfield scoring in the first inning, delivering his sixth blast of the year. The next batter, junior right fielder Cole Bixenman, contributed a homer of his own that gave the ’Cats an early two-run advantage.
In the third inning, Brown drove in junior second baseman Eric Evenson, who had singled two batters earlier. Fenton then teed off on his first home run of the game, extending Linfield’s lead to five.
In his next at-bat, Fenton tallied his second bomb of the contest, which brought in Brown, who doubled with one out in the fifth inning.
The brunt of Linfield’s attack came in the seventh inning when the Wildcats added six runs to their lead. After Brown drew a walk to lead off the frame, Fenton homered for the third time. Senior outfielder Tyson Smith brought in two more runs late in the inning followed by an RBI single by freshman third baseman Geoff Kunita to cap off the scoring.
Lewis & Clark broke up the shutout in the eighth inning when sophomore right fielder Parker Dane doubled to right center field, driving in freshman pinch hitter Eliot Smith.
The Wildcats responded in the bottom half of the frame with three runs, including RBIs by senior catcher Mitch Webb, freshman infielder Michael Hopp and senior outfielder Jared Adamson.
Fenton finished the day with three homers and six RBIs, while Brown, Smith and Webb added two each.
The second game of the series saw both clubs tally 26 hits in a back-and-forth contest.
Linfield established the first lead of the game in the second inning when sophomore outfielder Zach Boskovich scored on an Adamson groundout to second base.
The Pioneers retaliated in the next inning with three runs. After freshman shortstop Zach Perez earned a leadoff walk and was bunted over to second, junior second baseman Guiseppe Baffaro drove him in to tie up the score. With one man on base and two outs, Dane delivered a two-run homer to center field, capping off the Pioneer run. Another run would be added in the fourth with a solo home run from senior third baseman Jim Bray.
With a 4-2 lead in the fifth inning, Lewis & Clark provided insurance for its pitching staff. Junior designated hitter Nate Grisham brought in Ball with a sacrifice fly that was followed by a double by Smith and an RBI single by junior left fielder Sam Holman.
The Wildcats chipped away at the four-run deficit in the bottom half of the frame, recording three runs, including a two-run blast by Boskovich and a solo shot by sophomore designated hitter Joell Reyes.
Once again, the Pioneers responded in the next inning with an RBI single by Dane.
Linfield retook the lead in the bottom of the sixth, tallying three runs. After an Adamson RBI single with one out, sophomore third baseman Ryan Larson delivered a two-run double to give the ’Cats a one-run edge.
The eighth inning proved dramatic, as the Pioneers tied the game up with another RBI single by Holman.
In the bottom of the frame, Adamson singled to right field. Then, with two outs in the inning, Smith belted a two-run homer to left field that gave Linfield the outright lead.
Senior reliever Tommy George entered in the ninth for the Wildcats, shutting down the Pioneer batters to seal the victory.
Although the Pioneers tallied the first run of the ball game, senior Reese McCulley allowed only three hits for the Wildcats, giving up only one run and striking out six batters in six innings of work.
After Lewis & Clark recorded one run in the top of the first, Linfield answered in the bottom of the inning when Smith scored on a throwing error by junior catcher Roland Greene.
Linfield recorded four runs in the next inning with three RBIs coming from Brown who dealt a three-run homer to center field.
With a 6-0 lead in the fourth inning, the Wildcats added four more runs, including two RBIs by Brown and one by Bixenman.
Linfield recorded its final two runs in the seventh when Webb lined an RBI double that was soon followed by an RBI groundout by Larson.
Senior pitcher Kyle Mosbrucker and Brown combined for three innings of work in relief of McCulley, allowing only two hits and one run.
As of April 11, Boskovich is third in the nation with 12 home runs, while the Wildcats are seventh as a team with 40. Linfield is also 20th in the NCAA with a 3.79 earned run average.
Both Brown and Bixenman lead the NWC and are eighth in the country with 15 doubles. As a team, the Wildcats rank fifth among the NCAA with 86 doubles and is unofficially fourth in the nation with 133 extra base hits.
The Wildcats head to Orange, Calif., on April 16 to face No. 2 Chapman University for a four-game series.
The 22-5 Panthers, who have one 12 of their last 13 games, are second in the nation in ERA, allowing a mere 2.79 runs per nine innings. The Chapman pitching staff has only allowed 66 runs in more than 210 innings.
Chapman is led by freshman pitcher Brian Rauh, who has recorded six wins in 10 appearances and is undefeated.
Sports editorGrant Lucas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org