The trophy cases in the Ted Wilson Gymnasium need to expand.
The Linfield Wildcats baseball team dispatched the Southern Maine University Huskies 4-1 to win the first Division III baseball championship in program history.
On the mound for the Wildcats was National Pitcher of the Year, sophomore Chris Haddeland (15-1, 1.07 ERA). He went the distance—his eighth complete game of the season— and struck out five, but only after a shaky first inning.
“I was probably a little too amped up and that caused me to make some poor pitches. I was also having difficulty with my footing on the mound,” Haddeland said.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, he found his footing and his proper level of adrenaline and did not give up a run after the first inning. It was the normal, dominant Haddeland once again.
“Luckily I found a groove and managed to work my way out of the jam and continue to throw successfully throughout the day,” Haddeland said.
When the last out was made, the ‘Cats made one last dogpile on the field in Appleton, Wis. Linfield fans everywhere, past and present, in Appleton, McMinnville and across the country, could celebrate.
The 10-1 Linfield rout earlier in the week was buoyed by strong hitting up and down the line-up. Junior Jake Wylie even waved goodbye to his two run home run. Sophomore Aaron Thomassen provided what was perhaps his best start of an excellent season in the 10-1 win as well, throwing a complete game, striking out nine and giving up just the one run.
The 4-1 win for all the marbles was a much closer game. In fact, the ‘Cats trailed 1-0 until the fourth inning. Husky starting pitcher Andrew Richards had not given up solid contact until junior Nick Fisher smoked a double to left-center field in the fourth.
Maybe it was just a matter of time before the ‘Cats got to Richards. After all, Richards was nearing the 200 pitch mark for the day because he had thrown an unbelievable 152 in their 5-4 win against Ithaca College earlier in the day.
After Fisher’s double, Wylie popped out but junior Kramer Lindell singled to left field. This brought junior Clayton Truex to the plate with runners on first and third, and he delivered with a line drive to center field.
The ‘Cats would not stop there. Senior Jordan Harlow, who had a two-run double against the Huskies earlier in the week, was intentionally walked to load the bases for senior Kyle Chamberlain.
Much to the surprise of the Huskies, Chamberlain laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt that could not be fielded cleanly. Lindell scored and Linfield grabbed a lead that would not be taken away.
The ‘Cats would score the only other runs in the same inning. Senior Michael Hopp was hit by a pitch to drive in the third run, and senior Tim Wilson used his incredible speed to beat a throw at first and score the fourth run.
The team had been playing with heavy hearts after the second game of the regional tournament. Longtime Linfield fan and supporter Arnold Owens, a 1954 Linfield graduate, died unexpectedly just hours after the ‘Cats defeated the Huskies 10-1 earlier in the week.
He always supported the baseball team and was in Appleton last week watching the ‘Cats. But, Owens did get to see the team that the ‘Cats would need to defeat again in order to win the national championship.
As you can tell, there was a lot of work done at the plate by the bottom of the order. Whatever it took, the ‘Cats found a way to win it.
Samantha Sigler / Editor-in-chief
Samantha can be reached at email@example.com