Tournament Web Site
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – The speed of Tournament Most Outstanding Player Tyson Smith sparked Linfield College early and the team’s power hitters hit three consecutive home runs in the eighth as the Wildcats hammered the Mississippi College Choctaws 12-3 in the title game of the NCAA Division III Baseball McMinnville (West) Regional Saturday here at Roy Helser Field.
Linfield (34-11) advances to the NCAA Division III World Series May 28-June 1 in Appleton, Wis., for the second time, where the Wildcats will play the champion of the New England Regional, the University of Massachusetts-Boston. It is Linfield’s first West Regional title; the Wildcats went to the World Series in 2008 after winning the Central Regional. Mississippi College, which was playing in an NCAA regional title game for the first time, saw its season end with a 39-11 record.
The Wildcats took a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Smith was hit by a pitch to lead off, stole second, was sacrificed to third, and scored on Kelson Brown’s single to left. Brown swiped second and came in on Cole Bixenman’s ground single to left. Smith catalyzed another two-run Linfield rally in the second. Mitch Webb drew a lead-off walk, was sacrificed to second, and went to third on Smith’s single. Smith stole second and went to third on a wild pitch as Webb scored. Dustin Smith then walked and stole second, and Tyson Smith scored when the catcher’s throw bounced into center field.
Bo Bell got one run back for the Choctaws with a solo home run in the third, his 11th of the season, but two more MC errors proved costly in the third as the Wildcats scored three unearned runs. Tyson Smith singled in Rhett Fenton, who had singled and moved up on a sacrifice and an error at second, and two more runs scored later in the frame when relief pitcher Daniel Cowarts threw Dustin Smith’s roller to the right side down the right field line for a three-base error. Brannon Walls drilled his eighth homer of the year, a two-run blast for the Choctaws in the bottom of the third after a double by Chase Herrin, to cut the Linfield lead to 7-3. It was Walls’ third hit of the tournament – all home runs.
Dustin Smith responded with a home run of his own, a solo shot in the sixth and his third of the season, to make it 8-3 Wildcats. The Wildcats clinched the win with four runs in the eighth featuring back-to-back-to-back home runs off reliever Brock Campbell by Bixenman (his 12th), Zach Boskovich (his 17th), and Fenton (his ninth).
Ryan Larson (11-3) went seven innings to pick up his second win of the tournament, both against MC; he defeated the Choctaws 6-1 in the first round on Wednesday. He scattered eight hits, striking out four and walking none, before Tommy George and Evan Hilberg finished up. Chris Ferriss (4-2), the first of four MC hurlers, took the loss.
Tyson Smith had two hits, stole three bases, and scored three times, as well as making an outstanding over-the-shoulder catch in deep center field. Fenton had three hits and Brown and Bixenman had two each as the Wildcats pounded out 11 hits. Herrin and Walls had two hits apiece for the Choctaws, who had nine in all.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Chapman - P Brian Rauh; Texas-Tyler - SS Aaron McCain, OF Tyler Clakley; Pomona-Pitzer - SS James Kang, OF Erik Munzer; Mississippi College – P Daniel Cowart, C Jacob Daniel, 1B Andy Smith, OF Chase Herrin; Linfield – P Ryan Larson, P Reese McCulley, P Robert Vaughn, 3B Dustin Smith, SS Kelson Brown, OF Tyson Smith (Most Outstanding Player).
Wildcats celebrate second regional title in three seasons
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128