Linfield Wildcats

May 24, 2014
Atypical play results in quick NCAA exit
Box Score
Postgame Press Conference
APPLETON, Wis. – Emory made sure Division III will see a different team hoist the national trophy in 2014, leaping to a hot start and withstanding a late comeback bid to eliminate defending champion and second-ranked Linfield 8-5 Saturday morning at the Neurosciences Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
For the second straight day, Linfield found itself in a deep hole early, behind 5-0 after two innings. Down but not out, the Wildcats (37-9) scored five runs over the final four frames, but missed opportunities cost them another serious run at the title. The ‘Cats outhit the Eagles 13-9 but stranded 14 runners on base, at least one in all but the first inning.

"We're very disappointed to be in this position, to be out of the tournament already," said head coach Scott Brosius. "What's most disappointing is we probably weren't the best version of ourselves for these two days. Things that we've done all year long we didn't do very well in this tournament. When you get to a tournament like this and you're playing this level of competition, there's very little margin of error."
Corey VanDomelen pushed across Linfield's first two runs of the tournament with a two-out single up the middle in the sixth while Jo Carroll hit 3-for-4 and plated one run in a losing effort. 
Facing an 8-3 deficit in the eighth, seniors Nick Fisher, Jake Wylie, Clayton Truex and Kramer Lindell sparked a two-out rally, supplying four consecutive singles to score a pair of runs and pull to within three.

"We're mad about it now, but for the most part we had a really good team," Fisher said in the post-game press conference. "It's been the best group of guys I've every played with.
Garett Speyer pitched lockdown defense in the top of the ninth, striking out two and setting up a line out to center field, to set the stage for one final comeback attempt. But aside from a Kenny Johnson infield pop fly that dropped just behind the mound, Kyle Monk silenced Linfield's hitters to register his sixth save of the year and extend the Eagles' season at least one more day.
Emory (35-12) jumped on starter Aaron Thomassen early. Leadoff center fielder Wes Peacock sent a full-count line drive straight to the glove of Eric Lawson at third, but the Eagles worked through four more batters before the Wildcat defense recorded another out. A bases-loaded walk drawn by Jared Kahn opened the floodgates, and Emory scored twice more before reliever Zach Manley registered one of four strikeouts to finally help Linfield escape, down 3-0.

"Our guys are pretty battle tested. Those are two pretty good pitchers that just both happened to struggle on back-to-back days," Brosius said when asked about any pressure put on All-Americans Chris Haddeland and Thomassen. "Every game you go into you want to see your starter come out and throw well...but they were pretty battle-tested guys and unfortunately we just had two pretty tough first innings."
After surrendering two more runs in the second, the Wildcats showed life on offense. Truex and Nate McClellan sandwiched walks around Carroll's bloop single to center, loading the bases with one out. But a fly out and unassisted groundout to first left all three runners stranded.
In the third, Manley retired three straight to spark the dugout, and again Linfield put runners aboard. VanDomelen and Fisher drilled hard-hit balls through the dirt, reaching on a base hit and error with zero outs. Again, however, starter Connor Dillman got out of the jam, setting up a fly out and double play to erase the threat.
Linfield finally broke through in the sixth. Lindell shot a base hit to far left and Carroll drew a walk. Pinch hitter Ben Andrews (Sr., Shoreline, Wash.) sent a grounder through the right side, and a VanDomelen two-out single up the middle plated the Wildcats' first runs after getting shut out the day before against St. Thomas.
Brandon Hannon got the Eagles going early with the first hit of the game – a double to left center – but Brett Lake, Daniel Iturrey and Kahn did further damage with three straight walks in the first and finished with two hits each on the afternoon. Jared Welch and Phillip Maldari plated two more runners on an RBI single and sacrifice fly to give the Eagles the early edge after one frame.
Working with a 3-0 advantage, the Eagles again started a scoring inning with a double. This time it was Peacock sending a ball to left field and making his way to third on a Hannon sacrifice. Lake's single to left plated Peacock, and Lake crossed home three hitters later on a fielder's choice.
Emory bumped the spread back to five runs in the seventh on a Maldari sacrifice fly with runners on first and second. Iturrey and Kahn had led off the inning with back-to-back singles and each advanced one base on a Welch sacrifice. 
Facing Matt McMahon, who entered with two outs recorded in the sixth, Linfield pulled within four in its half of the seventh inning. McMahon pegged Truex and LIndell in consecutive at-bats and a Carroll single up the middle scored both, making the score 7-3.
Linfield conceeded another run in the eighth after yielding a hit by pitch, a single down the right-field line and finally on a passed ball before rallying to the final 8-5 score.
The Wildcats utilized five different pitchers in the game, with Manley, Justin Huckins and Speyer all recording at least one strikeout. Thomassen took the loss after giving up three earned runs off four walks and two hits.

"We're all really disappointed right now because we knew were capable of more," Carroll said after the game. "But I know looking back on the season and my time at Linfield, which is not over, I'm extremely proud of my guys and my teammates and what we accomplished this year."

"We've seen both sides now: we've seen the highest of highs last year being the last team standing this year we've seen the lowest of lows being the first team out," Brosius said. "In no way can you look at this as a failure. It's tough to get here, really tough to get here. This is a successful season that didn't end the way that we wanted it to end."
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield is now 8-7 in four appearances at the NCAA Finals...the Wildcats went two-and-out for the first time...the loss marked the end of 10 Wildcat seniors' careers: Fisher, Jake Wylie, Truex, Lindell, McClellan, Johnson, Manley, Huckins, Speyer and Zach Brandon…Huckins made his first appearance at the NCAA Finals, recording all three outs in the seventh…Linfield totaled 15 hits over two games, but none for extra bases…official game time was 3 hours, 17 minutes…attendance was listed at 1,569.
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Scott Brosius
Wildcats are 8-7 in Finals