Linfield Wildcats

May 17, 2014
Wildcats are bound for the Badger State!
Box Score
Tournament Statistics
Photo Gallery
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Linfield is making back-to-back trips to the NCAA Division III Baseball Championships for the first time in program history after dispatching the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point 4-2 Saturday afternoon in the championship game of the McMinnville Regional tournament, played at Roy Helser Field.

The Wildcats (37-7) went undefeated in four games, twice getting by the Pointers (32-13) to earn a return trip to Appleton, Wis., to defend their national championship.

Making the biggest start of his career, Justin Davis got Linfield out to a great start, carrying a 3-2 lead into the sixth and handing off to two relievers before Linfield called upon ace Chris Haddeland to close out the game.

Corey VanDomelen snapped a 2-2 tie in the seventh with a just-fair double inside the left-field stripe, and Jo Carroll plated the insurance run in the eighth with a two-bagger down the right-field line.

Joseph Stevick earned the win, his first of the year, as the pitcher of record when the Wildcats took the lead. Haddeland registered his third career save, all achieved in the postseason.

Bobby Gregorich hit 2-for-4 with one run scored and Max Frederick suffered the loss for the Pointers, who were denied their own return trip to the NCAA Finals.

Linfield scored twice in the fourth on a passed ball before UW-Stevens Point pulled even late with one run each in the seventh and eighth. VanDomelen pushed across the game-winning run with a seventh-inning double, and Carroll gave the Wildcats a 4-2 lead heading into the ninth. 

Making his first career postseason start, Davis got out to a great start, setting up a groundout, striking out Jimmy Coady and picking up Kyle McHugh's grounder himself to bring the Wildcat offense to plate.

VanDomelen sent a 1-1 pitch into far right field to put an early runner aboard. Jake Wylie blasted a fly ball to left field that came up just a few feet shy of the fence before VanDomelen stole second, sliding under Brandon Kranz to move into scoring position. Linfield's leadoff man was left stranded, however, on a line out to Frederick.

Davis continued rolling through the second, striking out Carlson swinging to punctuate another 1-2-3 inning. Frederick matched the feat in the bottom half of the frame, and the teams went scoreless through two.

Gregorich sparked the Pointers with a leadoff gapper to left, but two great plays by the Linfield defense wiped the bags. Wylie and VanDomelen teamed to catch Gregorich trying to steal second, and Nick Fisher went to the fence along the right-field line and made a basket catch in foul territory to sit down Cody Hanke for the second out.

In the third, VanDomelen's short two-out grounder eluded both Frederick and first baseman Hanke, and after beating the toss for a base hit, Linfield's speedy shortstop and leadoff man advanced to second for a second time, this time on a balk. Yet again, however, Frederick an out to preserve the shutout.

Linfield finally broke through in the fourth. After Wylie was hit by a pitch, the Pointers made the force at second, allowing Kramer Lindell to easily make it to first. Carroll dropped a base hit into shallow center, and the Wildcats had runners on the corners. Carroll stole second, and when the next pitch got past UWSP catcher Ben Gerber, the race for home was on. Lindell took off first, sliding safely, and Carroll followed when the throw to the plate went wild to spot Linfield a 2-0 advantage.

Gregorich found luck again against Davis, singling to right center and advancing on a sacrifice from Hanke. The Pointer's center fielder moved 90 feet closer to home plate on a Gerber groundout, prompting Scott Brosius to make a pitching change.

The Wildcats called upon Cody Walker, who registered the save in Linfield's second tournament game against Trinity. Working with a 2-1 count, shortstop Riley Spetz sent a line drive through the left side to plate Gregorich and halve the Linfield advantage, 2-1.

After denying LInfield an opportunity to score Clayton Truex, who drew a walk and advanced to second on a Lindell groundout, the Pointers knotted things up in the seventh.

McHugh led off with a single to center. Linfield got the force at second, but a late throw to first sailed high and out of play, allowing Kranz to reach and advance a base. Walker then pegged Barnes, forcing the Wildcats to bring Joseph Stevick out of the bullpen with the tying and go-ahead runs aboard for the Pointers with one out.

Another high throw to first, this one on a high chopper to the mound, allowed Kranz to score from second. With two runners still on for the Pointers, Carroll charged a shallow fly ball in left for the second out, and Kenny Johnson cleanly fielded Hanke's groundout to help Linfield get out of a dangerous situation.

Leading off the bottom half of the eighth, Eric Lawson went airborne and avoided a tag at first when the throw from the UW-Stevens Point third baseman went wide right. Johnson sacrificed his fellow infielder to second, and VanDomelen planted a two-out double just fair along the left-field line to put the lead back in Wildcat hands, 3-2.

Going on a full two days' rest, Haddeland took the mound to start the eighth. Lawson made a sliding stop on a ground ball and Haddeland struck out Spetz, but Coady drew a walk to put the tying run on first. Linfield's ace never faltered, striking out McHugh to provide the ‘Cats with an opportunity to gain more separation on the scoreboard.

Carroll got the insurance Linfield needed, shooting a base hit down the right-field line to score Truex from second.

Playing small ball, UW-Stevens Point had a chance when Barnes poked a one-out single to right center and advanced on Taylor Carlson's groundout, but Haddeland set Gregorich up for a fly out to right field, where the tournament's outstanding player – Fisher – made the catch and sent the Wildcats to home plate for a celebratory dogpile.

'CAT SCRATCH: Linfield improved to 4-1 in NCAA regional championship games…Haddeland, Aaron Thomassen, Wylie and Fisher were named to the all-tournament team...Fisher was chosen as the most outstanding player.

AHEAD: The Wildcats play the winner of the Moline, Ill., regional tournament in the first game of the NCAA Finals Friday in Appleton.

Action Image
Linfield Wildcats
McMinnville Regional Champs