It was the tale of two types of Linfield baseball in Orange, Calif., this weekend against the Chapman Panthers.
The first game of the series was a rough one for the Wildcats. Senior Robert Vaughn started the game for the ‘Cats and was poorly backed up by his infielders. After two errors that extended the second inning, Vaughn gave up a grand slam to Chapman. All six runs scored off Vaughn were unearned. Chapman’s players shut down the Linfield batters, striking out 16 and only giving up six hits.
The second game of the evening showed a more competitive Linfield team. Senior Ryan Larson pitched a gem, allowing only four hits and one earned run in nine innings. The ‘Cats scored early in the second and third innings to pick up a two-run lead which they held through the rest of the game. Linfield only racked up five hits throughout the game, but taking advantage of walks and errors early allowed them to win the game 2-1.
During the third game, errors again plagued the ‘Cats and cost them the game. Poor hitting and fielding caused Linfield to drop the ball and lose the third game of the series, 1-6. Sophomore Zach Brandon started the third game and pitched 4.1 innings until senior Spencer Crepeaux came in for relief. Crepeaux gave up two earned runs in 2.2 innings. Senior Casey Cameron came in to close the game, giving up one earned run.
“We had to forget about the last game and focus on the things we could control in the next” sophomore Kenny Johnson said.
Senior Zach Boskovich went 0-15 with eight strikeouts in the series, but his bat was not needed for the final game of the series, rather his arm. With the game tied at two to two in the bottom of the eighth, Chapman’s Connor Battaglia hit a single to left field. As Troy Newman tried to go home, Boskovich threw a strike to catcher junior Kyle Chamberlain, who tagged out Newman at the plate and ended the threat in the bottom of the eighth.
After eight innings of play, freshman Chris Haddeland was relieved by sophomore Justin Huckins, who ended up pitching the next five innings. Huckins gave up only one hit and two walks in five innings of play.
The Wildcats were under the clock however, as the 13th inning rolled around. They were in their final inning no matter what because of their need to leave soon because of their flight time. The ‘Cats didn’t disappoint. In the top of the 13th, sophomore Kramer Lindell came up to the plate with a runner at first and sent the ball sailing over the fence for a two run shot that gave the ‘Cats a two run lead headed into the bottom of the 13th. When asked how it felt to hit the home run that gave Linfield the lead, Lindell responded, “Good.” To finish the game, Huckins threw a fastball past Charlie Piro, who struck out looking to end any hope of a comeback by Chapman.
The next series the Wildcats play will be against George Fox University on April 21. The ‘Cats, currently third in the Northwest Conference, will look to further close the gap with Pacific and Whitworth.
Carson Crepeau/Staff writer
Carson Crepeaux can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.