’Cats end conference in No. 1 spot
Baseball began the month of May with in three victories against Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., on April 30 and May 1, as the team prepares for regionals.
Senior second baseman Eric Evenson said the Wildcats went up against tough competition.
“PLU is always a tough team to play because they are well coached and competitive. You know that any time you play PLU, you will have to beat them,” he said. “They won’t give you anything easy.”
The ’Cats took the first game, 9-4, against the Lutes with three runs in the fourth inning when senior catcher Cole Bixenman and sophomore center fielder Tim Wilson were on base and sophomore first baseman Clayton Truex hit a home run down the left field line.
Keeping up with their strength at the plate, Linfield brought in three more runs during the fifth inning. Truex hit a home run and brought in Bixenman and Wilson.
The next run brought in by the Wildcats happened in the sixth inning and was scored by senior right fielder Gunnar Cederberg.
Bixenman and freshman left fielder Kramer Lindell finished off the ninth inning of the first game with two final runs.
Junior Ryan Larson pitched strong in the first eight innings, and junior Jacob Nolte relieved him in the last inning.
The Wildcats pulled out another win on April 30, 3-0. Wilson had Linfield’s first run during the fourth inning. The team brought in two final runs when Wilson and Bixenman were at bat in their last inning.
Freshman Zach Brandon pitched for the game’s first eight innings before being replaced by senior Evan Hilberg.
Refreshed and ready to play, the ’Cats came out May 1 to compete in the third game against the Lutes.
Not waiting to start things off, Linfield scored the first two runs in the first inning. Wilson and senior third baseman Dustin Smith scored the first runs. Bixenman scored the next run in the sixth inning with a home run.
Trying to make a comeback in the sixth inning, Pacific Lutheran scored a single run. Linfield came back in the seventh inning, with Cederberg and Smith scoring two more runs.
The game ended with three final runs during the ninth inning. Cederberg scored the first of three runs on a wild pitch from Pacific Lutheran senior pitcher Bret Handy. Wilson and Smith scored the last two runs after a hit by Truex. Pitching for their final game in Tacoma were sophomore Zach Manley and junior Spencer Crepeaux. Only eight hits came off of the two of them.
Brandon reacted positively after going up against Pacific Lutheran’s strong pitching staff and coming out with three wins.
“I think overall we played really well in all phases of the game. All of our pitchers did a great job, and our defense was great in backing them up all weekend,” he said. “Offensively, we were able to get some timely hits which was big also.”
Evenson also positively responded to the game.
“The highlight of the weekend had to be our focus. Having already clinched a spot in a regional tournament it could have been easy to lose focus,” he said. “We wanted an outright conference championship. More importantly, we want to continue playing good baseball heading into regionals, so getting a sweep is one step closer to our goals.”
After four years of playing for Linfield, Evenson has come out with an experience that is hard for him to explain.
“These four years have been unbelievable. It’s really hard to put it into words. The relationships I’ve built and the memories I will be able to take away are invaluable and something I wouldn’t trade for anything,” he said. “We are all really blessed to be part of this program. I couldn’t have asked for a better four years.”
The Wildcats will travel to Lewiston, Idaho, for a final series that will prepare them for regionals in Texas on May 6-8. The team will compete against familiar teams such as PLU, Lewis-Clark State College and George Fox University.
Kaylyn Peterson/For the Review
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.