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PARKLAND, Wash. – Tim Wilson and Jake Wylie drove in six runs apiece to highlight an immensely productive day for the Linfield lineup, which pushed 22 runs across the plate in a twinbill sweep of Pacific Lutheran on a cold, wet and windy afternoon at PLU Field.
Starters Chris Haddeland and Aaron Thomassen each went seven innings on the mound and combined for 18 strikeouts and just two earned runs as the second-ranked 'Cats (22-4, 15-2 NWC) maintained their hold on first place in the conference team standings.
The Lutes (15-11, 6-8) have now lost six straight league games after getting swept by crosstown rival Puget Sound last weekend.
GAME 1: Linfield 12, PLU 8
Haddeland held the Lutes scoreless through six innings and Wilson, Wylie and Kramer Lindell notched three hits apiece as the Wildcats built a 12-0 cushion in a game that turned ugly late and was not as close as the final score indicated.
Pacific Lutheran put up seven runs off the Linfield bullpen in the eighth inning, but worked its way around the bases primarily through walks.
Flexing its offensive muscles with 17 total hits – one shy of a season high – Linfield jumped on PLU starter Max Beatty early. Wilson sent the righty’s fourth pitch deep into left center for a leadoff double, and worked his way over to third on a bunt from Corey VanDomelen. Wylie, who is among the RBI leaders in Division III, added another to his season total in the next at-bat, drilling a grounder past the Lutes’ third baseman to reach first and score Wilson.
Drew Oord broke up Haddeland’s bid for a no-hitter with a single up the middle in the second inning. Giving up just two other hits on the day, the sophmore righty for Linfield finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts and one earned run through seven innings.
Lindell and Nick Fisher supplied RBI singles in the third, Lindell’s coming on a fly ball that dropped just in front of the center fielder, to propel the ‘Cats to an early 3-0 advantage.
Linfield gained some serious separation from the home team with three-spots in the fifth, sixth and seventh frames. In the fifth, a Wylie single and dropped popup off the bat of Lindell set the stage for back-to-back doubles by Fisher and Jordan Harlow that plated three more runners.
Kyle Chamberlain opened the sixth with a blast to the fence along the right-field line that earned him two bases. With the bags loaded, Wylie stepped to the plate and drove a single to center to score a pair of teammates. Lindell supplied another RBI single in the ensuing at-bat, driving Beatty from the game after allowing eight earned runs off 13 hits.
Linfield lit up PLU reliever Chris Bishop for three more runs in the seventh, including a sacrifice fly from Wylie and a two-RBI single from Lindell.
A marathon of an eighth inning featured five walks, four Linfield pitching changes, a 12-minute rain delay and seven PLU runs. Collin Nilson provided the most excitement with a three-RBI double to left center.
Garett Speyer finally brought the Wildcat defense back to the dugout with a strikeout, fly out and groundout to end the eighth. Linfield’s closer pitched the final two innings, recording two strikeouts against one earned run and a two walks to secure the win.
Five players supplied one hit each for the Lutes, with Nilson (3), Jacob Olsufka (1) Trevor Lubking (1) and Alec Beal (1) driving in six combined runs.
GAME 2: Linfield 10, PLU 2
Thomassen retired eight straight Lutes on two separate occasions and three Wildcats enjoyed multiple-hit games as the visitors assured themselves of a sixth NWC series victory.
Harlow recorded the first hit for Linfield in the top of the second, doubling to score Fisher, who had drawn a walk to open the inning. Fisher slid to beat the throw from center field, a play that allowed Harlow to round second and reach the far bag. Linfield’s third baseman reached home at the next at-bat on an RBI double from Clayton Truex.
The 'Cats pieced together another run in the third. VanDomelen slid to beat out a throw to first, and after a Lindell double pushed him to third, the shortstop scored on Fisher’s RBI groundout.
In the fourth, Chamberlain plopped a fly ball into right field and snuck by an attempted tag by the second baseman on a hit-and-run single by Kenny Johnson. A wild pitch advanced both runners and Wilson drew a walk to load the bases. VanDomelen followed up with a slow roller along the first base line that scored Chamberlain, who crossed home easily on a wide throw to home. Wylie’s ensuing shot to the warming track scored two runners to push the spread to six runs.
Thomassen got himself into some trouble in the bottom half of the fourth. But after allowing a bases-loaded walk, he sat down pinch hitter Marcus McClurkin on a check swing to end the inning and escape with Linfield still maintaining a 6-1 lead.
Wilson tacked on two more runs with a fifth-inning, bases-loaded single that ricocheted off starting pitcher Cory Nelson’s glove and through the left side. With the bases loaded again in the top of the sixth, Fisher reached home on a fielder’s choice after walking and advancing to second on an error and to third on a Truex single. Wilson drove in his third run of the game – and Linfield’s last – on a single to center field later in the same inning.
Thomassen strung together another string of eight consecutive outs over the middle innings before handing over the ball to Cory Erautt. The freshman lefty, making just his third career appearance, recorded three strikeouts against one walk and one earned run in two solid innings of relief.
Nelson took the loss for the Lutes after giving up seven earned runs across 4 1/3 innings in his first career start. Oord hit 3-for-4 with a double, and Clay Trushinsky and AJ Konopaski drove in both of PLU’s runs.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield’s six doubles in Game 1 were a season high…seven members of the Wildcat starting lineup registered hits in Game 1…Linfield assured itself of a fourth straight series victory over the Lutes…PLU has not won a three-game set since taking two of three games during the 2009 season…Wylie entered the doubleheader with the second highest RBI total among Division III players with 39 through 24 games…Nick Boggan is the leader with 41 through 26 contests.
COMING UP: The Wildcats seek their fourth conference sweep of the year Sunday afternoon. First pitch against the Lutes is scheduled for noon.