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McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Jordan Harlow punched a clutch two-out, two-run, eighth-inning single into right field to push Linfield to a late lead, and Linfield held on for a tight Game 2 win to cap off a Northwest Conference doubleheader sweep of Whitman Saturday afternoon at Roy Helser Field.
Jake Wylie led the way offensively, posting a line of 4-for-7 with two doubles, four RBI and two runs scored. Kramer Lindell went 3-for-6 with a double and two stolen bases, and Tim Wilson went 3-for-6 with a triple, two RBI and a run scored for the Wildcats. Linfield improved to 14-3 on the season to assume sole possession of first place in the NWC with a conference record of 7-1.
Kyle Buckham and Aaron Cohen each had two hits on the day for Whitman, which fell to 7-11 on the season and 2-6 in NWC play.
Game 1: Linfield 13, Whitman 1
Wylie went 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI while Wilson added three hits, including a triple, as Linfield scored in five different innings en route to the win.
Chris Haddeland threw six shutout innings for Linfield, allowing just three hits and a walk with three strikeouts. Linfield’s ace was pulled after just 70 pitches as head coach Scott Brosius opted to give his innings-deprived bullpen some live at-bats against opposing hitters.
Missionary starter Dakota Matherly threw four innings and allowed four runs on six hits with two walks and a strikeout. The righty took the loss, falling to 0-2 on the season.
Whitman threatened in the first, putting runners on second and third with two outs. Cameron Young worked the count to 2-2 before Haddeland got the second baseman to fly out to Nick Fisher to end the threat.
With one out in the second, Lindell lined a 1-2 pitch from Matherly into the gap in right center to put a runner in scoring position for the ‘Cats. Stepping to the plate with two outs, Harlow came through a bloop single just out of the second baseman's reach that brought Lindell home.
Wilson led off the bottom of the third with an infield single, and an ensuing walk issued to Corey VanDomelen gave Linfield a chance to add to its lead. Wylie roped a line drive that hugged the foul line in left field and bounced around in the corner. The one-out double brought home VanDomelen and Nate McClellan, and Linfield went in front 3-0.
The ‘Cats struck again in the fourth, as a deep drive from Wilson landed at the base of the wall in dead center and plated Clayton Truex with two outs.
Linfield distanced itself in the fifth, capitalizing on an RBI base hit from Truex and a dropped fly ball by Whitman left fielder Kyle Moyes that allowed two more Wildcats to score. Things went from bad to worse for Whitman, as VanDomelen and Wylie punched back-to-back two-out, two-run singles into left that brought the score to 11-0.
Linfield’s bullpen kept Whitman’s lineup at bay for the final three innings, as Kyle Billeci and Garrett Miller combined to allow three hits and no walks the rest of the way.
Game 2: Linfield 3, Whitman 1
Harlow stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth with two outs and two runners on base, and delivered a two-run base hit to right field that ultimately gave Linfield the victory.
Wildcat starter Aaron Thomassen threw seven-plus innings, allowing one run on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts. The right-hander was denied the win, but maintained a perfect 4-0 record with a 0.79 ERA. Justin Huckins threw the final two innings to earn his first win of 2013.
Whitman starter Spencer Hobson was equally as impressive as Thomassen, as he gave up one run on three hits with six walks and a pair of strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings.
Thomassen looked solid from the start, retiring the first eight Missionaries he faced before Jonny Chow drew a walk in the third inning. Whitman threatened to score in the frame when Chow moved to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run play on a Buckham single to right center. But after Whitman’s leadoff hitter stole second to put two runners in scoring position with two out, Thomassen coaxed a ground ball off the bat of Ozzy Braff that ended the inning.
Hobson was effective early on as well, as Linfield produced two-out base runners in each of the first three innings, yet stranded all of them.
Lindell singled to lead off the fourth, and after stealing second and third, the Wildcats’ center fielder was 90 feet from the plate with two outs. Hobson toughened up and took Harlow to a 2-2 count before getting Linfield’s third baseman to fly out to strand the runner.
The Wildcats finally broke the silence in the seventh, as Truex doubled off the wall in left center to put a runner in scoring position with one out. Harlow and Laboda drew consecutive walks to load the bases for Wilson with two out. The All-American battled Hobson to a full count before taking ball four and plating the first run of the game.
Whitman responded in the eighth, as a leadoff walk by Chow drove Thomassen from the game. After Chow advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, Cohen came through with a double to the right-center gap that tied the score at 1-1.
With reliever Robert Maislin on the mound for Whitman in the eighth, Wylie drew a leadoff walk and Lindell advanced his fellow outfielder to second with a bunt. Kameron Bates drew a walk and then advanced to second, bringing Harlow to the plate with two runners in scoring position and two outs. The reliable senior drove a 1-1 pitch into right field that plated both runners and gave Linfield the lead for good, 3-1.
Huckins wasted no time closing the game in the top of the ninth, retiring the side in order on a groundout and a pair of lineouts.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Whitman has not defeated Linfield since March 9, 2002 when the Missionaries handed the ‘Cats an 8-6 loss in McMinnville…Linfield benefitted from 15 total walks on the day by Whitman…today’s doubleheader marked the first time in 2013 that a Linfield starter did not last at least eight innings in a NWC doubleheader.
NEXT UP: The series wraps up Sunday with Game 3, set for a noon start.