McMINNVILLE, Ore. – All-American Tim Wilson had three hits and scored two runs as No. 5 Linfield won the rubber match in a Northwest Conference three-game set, 4-2 over Willamette Sunday afternoon at Roy Helser Field.
The ‘Cats (9-4, 6-3 NWC) posted only five hits, but cashed in when given scoring opportunities against the Bearcats (4-12, 2-4 NWC).
Linfield started with a bang, as Wilson led off the game with a double to left field. The Wildcats’ luck turned south, however, when Wilson was picked off and Zach Boskovich was tagged out on a steal attempt after over-sliding second base.
Kyle Chamberlain sparked a Linfield rally in the second frame, smashing a single into center field with one out. Nate McClellan (Sr., Shoreline, Wash.) followed suit with a base hit, before a walk drawn by Kevin Allan loaded the bases. Kenny Johnson (Sr., Federal Way, Wash.) then sent a deep fly ball to left, and Chamberlain tagged up to give the ‘Cats the early 1-0 lead.
Linfield tacked on another run in the third, as Boskovich plated Wilson with a fielder’s choice.
Starter Zach Manley (Sr., Coburg, Ore.) looked solid for the ‘Cats, allowing just two runs on two hits while recording five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings of work. Linfield’s bullpen was buzzing throughout the game, as Manley, Spencer Crepeaux, Casey Cameron and Zach Brandon (Sr., Cottage Grove, Ore.) all had a hand in leading the Wildcats to victory.
The Bearcats rallied in the fifth, loading the bases for Sky Kelley. The junior outfielder doubled to left field on the first pitch he saw from Manley to drive in a pair of runs. Cameron entered the game in relief and coaxed a fly out with runners on second and third to limit the damage and keep the score at 2-2.
Willamette’s defense broke down in the bottom half of the fifth, as three errors contributed to a two-run inning for the ‘Cats. A wild throw with two outs allowed two runs to score and another error on the following play further extended the inning, though no more runs were scored.
Peter Hoffman threw seven strong innings for Willamette, giving up five hits and four runs, only two of which were earned. He also posted four strikeouts on the day.
Crepeaux worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth to preserve the Wildcats’ two-run lead. The senior right-hander went on to throw three scoreless innings in relief to earn his first win of the season.
Notching his first save of the year was Brandon, who entered in the top of the ninth and retired all three batters he faced, ending the game with a strikeout.
Offensively, McClellan kept his bat warm, posting a single to push his weekend line to 6-for-11.
Tosh Semlacher hit 2-for-4 for the Bearcats, who could not take advantage of two fielding miscues by Linfield.
AHEAD: Linfield travels to Walla Walla, Wash., to take on Whitman next weekend in a three-game set at Borleske Stadium. The ‘Cats look to stay near the top of the Northwest Conference standings and build off their back-to-back wins.