The bats were swinging in the first game, and the Wildcats scored their first three runs in the second inning. Seniors catcher Cole Bixenman and pitcher Robert Vaughn and junior infielder Kevin Allen scored the runs.
Sophomore outfielder Danny Urness earned another run after senior third baseman Dustin Smith hit a RBI to left field. Other players who scored during the game were freshman infielder Kenny Johnson and sophomore first baseman Clayton Truex.
“In the first game, we hit the ball well and scored runs throughout the whole game,” junior pitcher Ryan Larson said.
The Wildcats ended the first game with a final score of 10-4.During the second game on March 5, the team’s power came from the mound.
“In the second game, Vaughn was nearly unhittable on the mound,” Larson said.
Linfield scored the only runs of the game during the second inning, when Allen scored after Coleman’s RBI to left field, and then again when Smith hit an RBI to left field and McClellan scored a run. Vaughn pitched for seven innings and only had three hits off him. He had eight strikeouts during the game. Linfield lost the game 11-4 March 6.
Part of the team’s struggle involved injuries.
“So far, a few key guys have been injured. Injuries are never a good thing, especially this early in the season,” Larson said. “However, with injuries come opportunities for other guys to step up.”
Head coach Scott Brosius said he will lose some of his senior powerhouses, the athletes who have been important to the program.
“I’ll start with our two senior captains, Smith and Eric Evenson.Both are infielders, who have been four-year varsity players for us,” Brosius said. “On top of having outstanding careers, their leadership has been tantamount. Bixenman has been a three-year starter for us and has been a staple in the middle of the hitting order. [Senior outfielder] Gunnar Cederberg and [senior first baseman] Kevin Coleman provide depth for us in the field. [Senior pitchers] Evan Hilberg and Vaughn have been key members of our pitching staff as well.”
Brosius also spoke positively about this season’s underclassmen.
“Due to injuries and graduations from last year’s team, there are a number of younger players who look to have promising college careers. [Sophomore] Zach Manley, [sophomore] Chris Mueller and [freshman] Zach Brandon are all underclassmen pitchers who play key roles on the mound. Truex, Urness and [freshman outfielder] Nate McClellan are all young position players who saw a lot of action last week,” Brosius said.
Larson said he is also expecting a lot from the team.
“I enjoy being out there with the team everyday and hanging with the guys. We’re a pretty close-knit group, and everyone gets along,” he said. “I expect us to go out each weekend and give it our all. If we play like we should, we will have a great year.”
The Wildcats will host Whitman College at noon March 19.
Kaylyn Peterson/For the Review
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at email@example.com.