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Wildcats steal two wins from Pacific Lutheran

The Linfield baseball team took two of three games from Pacific Lutheran University on April 6 and 7, winning 12-8 and 10-2 and losing 3-1.

In game one on April 6, the doubleheader featured a matchup of two of the best pitchers in the NWC. Sophomore Chris Haddeland (7-1, 1.02) emerged victorious for Linfield, while Max Beatty (5-3, 2.44) was knocked around by the ‘Cats in his worst outing of the season. Haddeland struck out 11, a career high, in seven innings, while giving up just three hits and three walks.

Beatty, who missed all of last season after being diagnosed with cancer, pitched five innings and gave up nine runs (eight earned) on 13 hits and two walks, while striking out six. Beatty had given up a total of eight earned runs the entire season before this game so he saw his ERA balloon from 1.33 to 2.44. Beatty was named the top professional prospect in Division III last season by Baseball America, but the Linfield bats were not intimidated.

Linfield scored three runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings en route to building a 12-0 lead. Senior Tim Wilson, juniors Jake Wylie and Kramer Lindell all had three hits on the day, and Wylie, Lindell and junior Nick Fisher combined for 10 RBI.

Senior Clayton Truex had two hits for the ‘Cats, and senior Kyle Chamberlain continued his hot hitting with two hits, as well. Fisher and sophomore Corey VanDomelen combined for the six walks Linfield accumulated during the game.

When asked about the success against Beatty, Fisher said “Beatty’s fastball was his best weapon, and he just wasn’t throwing it very often. We could sit on his off-speed pitches and make him come to our zone, and…he elevated a lot of those pitches.”

Aside from the hitting, a troubling trend continued for the Linfield bullpen, with the combination of sophomores Joe Stevick, Kyle Billeci and junior Garett Speyer combining to give up seven runs (six earned) on two hits and seven walks. Neither Stevick nor Billeci recorded an out, but Speyer eventually closed the door on Pacific Lutheran’s chances. This comes on the heels of a shaky bullpen performance in the 9-7 loss to Puget Sound on March 30.

The second game of the doubleheader ended in a 10-2 Linfield victory, highlighted by seven strong innings from sophomore Aaron Thomassen (7-0, 1.18 ERA) and 12 more Linfield hits.

Thomassen struck out seven and walked just two, while giving up six hits and one earned run. Freshman Cody Erautt pitched the final two innings, striking out three and giving up one earned run.

The ‘Cats chased Pacific Lutheran starter Cory Nelson after just 4 1/3 innings. Nelson gave up eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits and three walks. In a tale of the number three, Truex lashed three hits, senior Jordan Harlow scored three runs and Wilson collected three RBI. Linfield smashed 10 doubles in the two doubleheader games combined.

During Sunday’s 3-1 Linfield loss, Pacific Lutheran starting pitcher Trevor Lubking (7-1, 1.82 ERA) was throwing a no hitter through 5 2/3 innings before Fisher broke it up with a single to center field. Lubking threw a season high 135 pitches, while striking out nine, and although Lubking entered the game with just 11 walks on the season, Linfield stretched its league leading walk total nonetheless. He issued six walks and six hits but scattered them throughout the game. None of the hits went for extra bases.

Linfield made Lubking and the Lutes sweat it out in the ninth inning, however, by loading the bases. Wylie, the NWC leader in RBI came up to the plate and put a good swing on a pitch, but there would be no clutch hit for Linfield on this day, as it landed safely in the glove of the left fielder.

“The entire weekend was just a wet, cold, grind-it-out kind of series…Today was definitely frustrating because the entire season, even in games where we weren’t all there offensively, it felt like every game our bats were about to finally get the big hit we needed…but today it didn’t, sometimes that’s just the nature of the game,” Fisher said.

Linfield starting pitcher junior Zach Brandon (4-2, 2.86 ERA) had a decent outing, striking out six in six innings while giving up three runs, but he ended up taking the loss anyhow. Junior Justin Huckins pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth innings and struck out three. Linfield pitchers combined to strike out 32 Pacific Lutheran batters in 26 innings, which is well above their season K/9 rate of 7.7.

With the 3-1 win, Pacific Lutheran snapped its six-game conference losing streak, while the loss pushed Linfield into a tie in the loss column with George Fox.

The ‘Cats travel to California next weekend for three nonconference games—two against Pomona-Pitzer and one against La Verne. La Verne shut out Linfield earlier this year, 6-0 in the first game of the season.

Tyler Bradley / Sports Columnist

Tyler Bradley can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com

 

Linfield baseball sees tough match up for home series

You may not be aware, but the last home baseball series of the year will be a titanic collegiate clash this weekend.

There are two teams in the Northwest Conference this year that have been a step above the entire league, and each Linfield student has the chance to see them April 20 and 21 at Roy Helser field.

In my honest opinion, each Linfield student should attend. After all, how can one resist an epic collegiate clash?

One of the featured teams is Linfield. With a record of 15-3 in the NWC and 26-5 overall, Linfield is ranked No. 2 in the country.

The other team is George Fox. With a record of 17-4 in the NWC and 24-9 overall, George Fox is ranked No. 17 in the country.

“We are all excited for the Fox series…we have been on the road…so being home will be nice,” junior outfielder Kramer Lindell said.

The seismic movements from the series at Roy Helser field will be felt in the NWC standings. I’m not kidding, the standings might actually crumble to pieces. Roy Helser field will be shaking with intensity.

Needless to say, the stakes are high for these games.

“We want to win the series. If we do this and continue playing well afterward, we can put ourselves in a good position to win the league,” said Linfield starting pitcher, sophomore Chris Haddeland.

Haddeland, sophomore Aaron Thomassen and junior Zach Brandon have been one of the best starting pitching trios in the country this year. With ERA’s of 1.14, 1.08 and 2.98 respectively, Fox’s offense is in for a test of its own.

Linfield and George Fox’s pitching staffs need to be careful, however.

These two offenses are the best in the conference. Linfield All-American senior Tim Wilson is hitting .444, Lindell is hitting .440 and junior Nick Fisher is hitting .421.

There is only one player in the NWC that has a higher batting average than all three of them, and his name is Josh Rapacz. As you might guess, he plays for George Fox, and his .500 batting average is the fifth best in the country.

Linfield junior Jake Wylie is tied for second in the NWC in home runs with five. One of the other players with five home runs plays for George Fox.

In fact, George Fox and Linfield rank 1-2 in home runs in the NWC. They also rank 1-2 in OPS, stolen bases and runs scored.

“Our bats have come alive…if we keep swinging it like we can, there is no one that can beat us,” Lindell said.

On the pitching side, the teams rank 1-2 in ERA and home runs allowed, but Linfield has the advantage on the pitching side (2.35 ERA compared to Fox’s 3.39 ERA), and this may be a key factor in deciding who wins the series.

Both teams have shown they can hit, so the ‘Cats pitching and defense will have to continue the stellar work they have done all year.

“I am excited, it’s always fun to test yourself against a really good team…a prolific offense like George Fox,” Haddeland said.

The stage is set and the players will be tested. Hopefully, the standings and Roy Helser field will be able to handle the intensity that this three-game series promises to supply.

You don’t want to miss it. Titanic collegiate clashes don’t happen often.

 

 

Tyler Bradley/Sports columnist

Tyler Bradley can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

 

 

Wildcats strike out Missionaries

Senior All-American Tim Wilson races toward second base after hitting a line drive single up the middle, scoring senior Jordan Harlow. Wilson went four for five on the day with one triple and an RBI. 
Tyson Takeuchi/Senior photographer
Senior All-American Tim Wilson races toward second base after hitting a line drive single up the middle, scoring senior Jordan Harlow. Wilson went four for five on the day with one triple and an RBI.  Tyson Takeuchi/Senior photographer

Senior All-American Tim Wilson races toward second base after hitting a line drive single up the middle, scoring senior Jordan Harlow. Wilson went four for five on the day with one triple and an RBI.
Tyson Takeuchi/Senior photographer

The Linfield baseball team swept a three-game series against Whitman College on March 16 and 17, winning 13-1, 3-1 and 7-2.

Juniors Kramer Lindell and Tim Wilson raked at the dish all weekend. Lindell went 7-10 with three walks, six runs scored and one RBI, while Wilson finished 7-11 with two walks, two runs scored, three RBI and two triples. Lindell also added two stolen bases. Both Lindell and Wilson had four hits on Sunday to end their weekends.

After this weekend, Lindell is hitting .459 with an OPS of 1.135. Wilson is not far behind, hitting .403 with an OPS of 1.066.

When asked about his success at the plate, Lindell said, “Our lineup is solid from one to nine and that forces pitchers to go right after you. Staying patient and attacking your pitch has been the formula this year.”

The team effort was evident in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader. Linfield lambasted Whitman’s pitching, highlighted by a seven-run fifth inning where Linfield sent 12 men to the plate. All seven runs in the fifth inning were scored with two outs. Wilson was 3-3, sophomore Corey VanDomelen reached base three times and scored two runs, and junior Jake Wylie smashed three hits—two of them doubles—and knocked in four RBI.

With the game out of hand after six innings—Linfield led 11-0—starting pitcher junior Chris Haddeland (4-1, 0.97 ERA) was pulled after an efficient six innings. He threw 70 pitches, struck out three and allowed just three hits and one walk.

Game two of the doubleheader was a pitcher’s duel between Whitman’s Spencer Hobson and sophomore Aaron Thomassen. Hobson lasted 6 2/3 innings and gave up just one run, despite giving up three hits and six walks.
Thomassen went seven innings, gave up three hits and three walks and just one run. The difference in the game was made by senior third baseman Jordan Harlow. Sophomore Kameron Bates and Wylie on second and third base for Linfield, Harlow drove both men in on a two out two-run single to right field.

“That’s definitely a situation that every athlete waits for…I was really excited. Any time that you are put in a spot to help your team win, it’s a lot of fun,” said Harlow, “it was my turn to pick [my teammates] up. I got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.”

With the lead in hand, Huckins picked up the victory for Linfield—his first of the season. He fired two innings in relief of Thomassen, giving up one hit and striking out one.

The game on Sunday was tied at two before a four-run sixth inning gave Linfield the lead for good.

The sixth inning outburst was started with a walk by senior Michael Hopp, a bunt single from Wilson and a walk from Wylie.

Lindell scored Hopp with an infield single, and then junior Nick Fisher delivered the key blow: a bases-clearing triple to right center field. The triple was part of a three-hit day for Fisher.

Lindell and Wilson both had four hits on the day to end their weekends.

Sophomore pitcher Joe Stevick picked up his first victory of the season in relief of starting pitcher junior Zach Brandon. Stevick went 2 1/3 innings and struck out one.

With the victories, Linfield improved its record to 15-3, 8-1 NWC.

The team will travel to Spokane next weekend to play the Whitworth Pirates (9-8-1, 4-2 NWC). Whitworth’s record is misleading—it was picked to win the NWC by the coaches.

“We believe we are better than anyone we will play this year. We believe in ourselves and we play very well in these big games,” Lindell said.

Tyler Bradley/Sports Columnist

Tyler Bradley can be reached at

linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.