McMINNVILLE, Ore. –
(Sr., Eagle, Idaho) went 3-for-5 with a home run, a double, three RBI and two runs scored to highlight a dynamite offensive showing by the Linfield Wildcats in an 11-0 preseason victory over Oregon in the final game of the Cascade/Northwest Conference Baseball Challenge Sunday at Roy Helser Field.
Zach Brandon (Sr., Cottage Grove, Ore.) threw seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out three. The junior right-hander improved to 2-0 on the season and lowered his ERA to a microscopic 0.69.
Tim Wilson, Chance Laboda (Jr., Seattle, Wash.) and Michael Hopp were Linfield’s other multi-hit players, as the ‘Cats outhit the Owls 15-4 on the day. Wilson hit 2-for-4, Laboda went 2-for-3 and Hopp finished 2-for-5. Linfield could not have hoped for a better way to head into NWC play next weekend, as the Wildcats have won seven consecutive games and sit at 7-1 on the season.
OIT starter BJ Wilson (1-2, 4.86 ERA) lasted six innings and allowed six runs on 11 hits with two walks and three strikeouts. The Owls fell to 6-9 with the loss, and finished the league crossover tournament with a record of 1-3.
Linfield’s defense looked good from the start. Kenny Johnson (Sr., Federal Way, Wash.) backhanded a sharp ground ball deep in the hole at short and made a strong throw to first that was just in time to retire Alex Reynolds, the second batter of the game.
Offensively, Wilson dumped a ball into right field to get the ‘Cats going in the first, and Johnson moved him over with a sacrifice bunt. Wylie and Kramer Lindell (Sr., West Linn, Ore.) came up with huge two-out RBI hits to give the Wildcats the early 2-0 lead.
Nick Fisher (Sr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) punched the first pitch of the second into left field, and after Hopp reached on a bunt single and stole second, the ‘Cats had two on with one out. A wild pitch allowed Fisher to score, but Wilson escaped the inning without further damage.
Brandon cruised through OIT’s lineup swiftly in the first 2 1/3 innings, retiring the first seven batters of the game. A two-out double by Tyson Dahl put Owls at second and third, but a great pickup and throw-on-the-run by Hopp was just in time to beat Reynolds to first and prevent a run from scoring.
Wylie wasted no time doubling his RBI tally in the third, as he sent the first pitch from Wilson beyond the train tracks outside the left field fence to make the score 4-0. Linfield loaded the bases for Wylie in the fourth, but the left fielder grounded out harmlessly on a 3-2 pitch, stranding three base runners.
Hopp showed off his leather again in the fifth, leaping to his right to snare a line drive off the bat of Spencer Reed and retire the side.
The ‘Cats manufactured a pair of runs in the fifth, as Fisher drew a two out walk and stole second. Laboda singled to center field to bring home Fisher, advanced to second on the throw and then came around to score when Hopp lined the ball into the gap in right center.
Brandon continued to handle the Owls’ lineup with ease, working into the seventh inning with an efficient pitch count of 55.
The wheels fell off for OIT in the bottom of the seventh, as three errors allowed five Wildcat runs to come across the plate and run the score to 11-0.
Garrett Miller (Jr., Corvallis, Ore.) threw the final two innings for the Wildcats, allowing no runs on one hit while striking out three.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Heading into the game, five Wildcats were hitting .350 or better on the season…the Wildcats’ start through eight games this season is their best since opening the 1998 season with the same record…Linfield was hitting an impressive .462 with runners in scoring position and less than two outs entering the game…Linfield yet to score in the eighth or ninth innings this season…Wylie and Wilson each went 7-for-16 on the weekend, with seven combined extra base hits, seven RBI and six runs scored.
COMING UP: Linfield opens up 2013 NWC play next weekend when it plays host to Pacific in a three-game set. The ‘Cats and Boxers play a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, followed by a third game Sunday with the first pitch at noon.