Game 2 Box Score
McMINNVILLE, Ore. –
(Jr., McMinnville, Ore.) threw his sixth complete game of the season in Game 1 and
(Sr., West Linn, Ore.),
(Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) and
(Sr., Shoreline, Wash.) each homered in the nightcap as Linfield stormed to a pair of decisive Northwest Conference victories over George Fox Saturday afternoon at Roy Helser Field.
Tim Wilson finished the day 3-for-8 with a double and two runs scored, and had perhaps the greatest defensive play of the year in Game 2 when he robbed Bruins first baseman Derek Dixon of a home run. Jordan Harlow was phenomenal with his glove at third base, making multiple plays on the run, knocking down a pair of balls off his chest and throwing to record outs, and turning in a spectacular sliding backhanded stop that ended an inning and prevented a run from scoring.
Linfield improved to 28-5 on the season and tightened its grip on first place in the NWC with a conference record of 17-3.
Four different Bruins had two hits on the day, and returning first-team all-NWC pick Josh Rapacz hit his fourth home run of the season in Game 2. George Fox fell to 24-11 on the season with the losses, and took a big hit in the race for the NWC crown with its record now at 17-6 in conference play.
Game 1: Linfield 6, George Fox 1
A six-run eighth inning backed Haddeland as Linfield rallied late to come from behind and knock off George Fox in the series opener.
Haddeland allowed just one run on six hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in nine innings, improving to 9-1 on the season.
George Fox starter Clay Gartner kept Linfield’s bats at bay for seven innings before the ‘Cats finally drove him from the game in the eighth. The junior ace’s final line was not indicative of his outstanding performance, as he allowed four runs on eight hits with one walk and a pair of strikeouts.
In front of a full crowd buzzing with anticipation, Matt Zeller lined Haddeland’s first pitch of the game into right field to give the Bruins their first base runner. In the ensuing at bat, a hit-and-run play went all wrong for George Fox, as Haddeland caught a soft line drive and threw to first to record a double play. Linfield’s ace then struck out Rapacz to retire the side and give the ‘Cats early momentum.
Gartner was equally effective in the first. He recovered after allowing a lead off single to Wilson to retire the next three batters in order.
With Bruins on first and second with two outs in the second, Zach Hegelmeyer pounded a fastball into the ground that took a sky-high bounce. Harlow picked the ball out of the air on the run and threw to first just in time to beat a head-first slide by Hegelmeyer and end the threat.
Haddeland benefitted from a seven-pitch inning in the third, thanks in part to a base-running mistake by the Bruins and two batters who swung at the first pitch. The two starters matched each other nearly pitch-for-pitch, as each had allowed four hits and no walks through five innings of play.
The best opportunity of the day so far for either team came in the bottom of the sixth when Harlow led off with a double into the left field corner. After Kyle Chamberlain sacrificed him to third, Gartner got Wilson to ground out and VanDomelen to pop out and the go-ahead run was left stranded.
Danny Clifford singled to lead off the seventh and Timothy Williams singled with one out to put runners at the corners for the Bruins. Zac Israel laid down a picture-perfect bunt on a squeeze play and George Fox pushed across the first run of the afternoon.
In the bottom of the eighth, McClellan lined the first pitch he saw from Gartner into right center, and Finn McMichael (So., Richland, Wash.) made his varsity debut as a pinch runner. After a failed bunt attempt by Truex, the senior first baseman lined the next pitch into right and McMichael advanced to third on the hit-and-run play. Harlow wasted no time in his at-bat as he sent the first pitch into left field for a game-tying base hit. Chamberlain moved the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt, and Wilson was walked intentionally to load the bases.
VanDomelen worked the count to 3-1 before smoking a ground ball just out of the reach of the diving Israel at second, and the ball made it into center field to plate a pair of runs. Jake Wylie (Sr., Eagle, Idaho) lined a ball into left to bring home one more, and Fisher loaded the bases with an infield single. After scoring the tying run earlier in the inning, McMichael delivered a two-out, two-run double into the left field corner to cap off the six-run inning.
Haddeland mowed down the Bruins in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts and a ground out to secure his NWC-leading sixth complete game of the season.
Game 2: Linfield 10, George Fox 3
Lindell, Truex and McClellan each homered and Wilson had the defensive play of the year in Game 2 as Linfield put together plenty of run support for starter Aaron Thomassen (Jr., Seattle, Wash.).
The sophomore right-hander threw six innings, allowing three runs on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Thomassen maintained his perfect record (9-0) and Joseph Stevick (Jr., Bremerton, Wash.) and Garett Speyer (Sr., Vancouver, Wash.) threw three combined scoreless innings in relief for the Wildcats.
The Bruins continued the theme of small ball right off the bat, as Zeller was hit by a pitch and moved over to second with a sacrifice bunt. Thomassen recorded a pair of groundouts to end the inning and leave the runner stranded on third.
Wilson led off the bottom of the inning with a double to right-center, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Wylie after VanDomelen moved him over with a bunt. Lindell doubled and came around on a base hit by Fisher, as the ‘Cats added one more run with two outs and went ahead 2-0.
The Bruins responded in the second when Hegelmeyer shot a two-run double into left center to plate Williams and Dixon, who were both hit by pitches.
Linfield notched an unearned run in the fourth, as Fisher reached on an error to lead off the inning and was brought around by Chamberlain on a sacrifice fly.
After Thomassen shut down the Bruins in order in the fifth, Linfield got to work at the plate. VanDomelen led off with a walk and a double from Wylie put runners at second and third with no outs. Lindell drove in a pair with a base hit up the middle, and after Fisher walked, Truex launched a towering fly ball off of the storage shed beyond the left-field fence for his third home run of the season. McClellan followed in the ensuing at-bat with his first round-tripper of the year, a solo blast over the scoreboard in right that gave Linfield an 8-2 advantage.
Rapacz, who had been 0-for-6 on the day, led off the top of the sixth with a line drive home run over the left-field fence that gave the Bruins some life. Clifford singled, but Thomassen got Dixon to ground into a momentum-draining double play and the ‘Cats got out of the inning without further harm.
Linfield put an exclamation point on the game in the sixth. VanDomelen led off with a double and Lindell drove a ball deep over the fence in left center for his fourth home run of the season.
George Fox put runners on in the seventh and eighth against Stevick, but the junior right hander got out of both jams without surrendering a run. After Clifford was hit by a pitch to lead off the eighth, Dixon sent a towering fly ball into deep left field that carried all the way to the fence. Wilson, who had moved from second base to left field in the sixth, ran to the fence, timed his jump perfectly and reached over the wall to bring the ball back from the other side and rob Dixon of a two-run home run, bringing the entire crowd to its feet.
Lindell came to the plate with two outs in the eighth and hit a deep drive to left field that appeared to be his second home run of the game. But the ball hit the yellow lining on the top of the fence and came back into play, so the Wildcat center fielder had to settle for a double.
Speyer retired the side in order in the ninth and the Wildcats burst out of the dugout as Lindell secured a fly ball for the final out of the game.
‘CAT SCRATCH: George Fox swept Linfield in NWC play last season, which not only crushed the Wildcats’ shot at a conference championship but also a bid to the regional tournament…before being caught stealing third in the second inning of Game 1, Fisher had been a perfect 16-for-16 on the base paths this season…the first game featured seven combined sacrifice bunts…nine different Wildcats drove in runs…Wilson extended his hitting streak to 16 games…Rapacz entered the game hitting .510 on the season but failed to record a hit for just the fourth time this season in Game 1.
NEXT: Linfield can win the NWC outright with a victory over the Bruins in the series finale Sunday. First pitch is set for noon.