Weather delay puts damper on offensive attack
Three days after beginning its series against the University of Puget Sound, the baseball team held off a late rally to win Game Two, but fell in the series finale in Tacoma, Wash., on April 6.
The Wildcats began the three-game set April 3, defeating the Loggers 12-8. After jumping ahead 11-3 in the second matchup, rain forced the ’Cats to travel back to McMinnville in the seventh inning.
Senior shortstop Kelson Brown said that the ’Cats played “Linfield baseball” April 3, with solid defense, great pitching and hot bats.
The third-game loss can’t be blamed on the rain postponement, senior outfielder Zach Boskovich said.
“It was unfortunate that the weather didn’t cooperate,” he said. “But that’s just how baseball goes in the Northwest.”
Linfield holds an 11-4 Northwest Conference record and is 19-8 overall.
The Wildcats were first to light up the scoreboard in the series opener with a second-inning RBI by junior second baseman Eric Evenson. Senior first baseman Rhett Fenton extended Linfield’s lead with a leadoff home run in the next inning.
Following a run in the fifth inning that gave the ’Cats a four-run advantage, the Loggers capitalized on a Wildcat error that allowed Logger senior first baseman Mark Rockey and sophomore designated hitter Matt Cox to score.
Linfield, however, blew the game open with a seven-run sixth inning, including five unearned runs on two Puget Sound errors.
The Wildcats appeared to have the game in hand after a homer by senior catcher Mitch Webb and a pass-ball score gave them a nine-run lead, but the Loggers responded six runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Junior second baseman Dakota Resnik drove in two runs in the inning to narrow the deficit to three runs.
Linfield senior pitcher Tommy George entered the game in the seventh with one out and allowed only three hits the rest of the way.
Senior center fielder Tyson Smith paced the Wildcat offense with three hits, two runs scored and three stolen bases. Those thefts set a new single-season record for Linfield, and two more in the second game gave Smith the all-time career record.
Puget Sound grabbed an early lead in the second matchup, but Linfield responded with five runs in the second inning, followed by two more in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings to take a commanding 11-2 advantage.
Boskovich recorded four RBIs in two innings, including a two-run home run over the left field wall.
Wildcat senior pitcher Garrett Dorn carried a three-run, seven-hitter into the seventh inning and walked the first batter he faced. At this time, the game was postponed until April 5 because of rain. But another weather delay moved this game and the third matchup to April 6.
When play resumed, Dorn was replaced by junior Evan Hilberg, and Puget Sound welcomed him with a four-run frame, depleting a nine-run Linfield lead to five with two innings to play.
The ’Cats sealed the win in the ninth when junior designated hitter Kevin Coleman drove in the 12th run.
Although he gave up three runs in the bottom of the inning, Hilberg retired the side, giving Dorn his fifth win of the season.
In the series finale, the Loggers attained an early lead in the second inning with an RBI by senior catcher Jason Powell. Four more runs were tallied the next inning, to give the Loggers a five-run lead.
Puget Sound continued to add insurance with a run in each of the fourth and fifth frames to pull away from Linfield.
After breaking up the shutout in the eighth inning, Linfield added three more runs in the ninth with a three-run blast from Boskovich – his team-leading and NWC second-best eighth of the season. However, it was not enough to overcome the Logger advantage.
Senior Colby Robinson earned the win for Puget Sound in just less than three innings pitched, while Linfield senior Reese McCulley gave up six runs in less than four innings of work.
“We just had one of those games where nothing would get through or fall when we needed it most,” Boskovich said.
The Wildcats return to McMinnville for a three-game series against Lewis & Clark College on April 10.
“We have a short week to prepare for them,” Boskovich said. “But we will have a few great days of practice and come out this weekend focused and ready to make a statement.”
Sports editorGrant Lucas can be reached at email@example.com