McMINNVILLE, Ore. – A productive at-bat, wild throw and smart base running allowed the fourth-ranked Linfield Wildcats to complete the three-game sweep against Lewis & Clark Sunday afternoon. The ‘Cats ground out a 7-6 win at Roy Helser Field to close out the opening weekend of Northwest Conference play.
With the victory, the Wildcats (6-1, 3-0 NWC) ran their win streak to five while denying the Pioneers (0-11, 0-3 NWC) the opportunity to notch their first victory of the year.
After Lewis & Clark posted a tying run in the top of the ninth inning, the game came down to an at-bat by Michael Hopp. The junior shortstop smacked a ground ball to short, setting off a chain reaction of events.
Jordan Harlow broke up the double play at second, causing a wild throw that allowed Jake Wylie (Sr., Eagle, Idaho) to score the winning run.
The first three Pioneers reached base off of Zach Manley (Sr., Coburg, Ore.), who worked himself into a jam with a hit batter, a single and a walk. Lewis & Clark cashed in on its early scoring opportunity, posting three runs on three hits in the first.
Michael Ball added insult to injury when his sharp line drive caromed off of Manley’s foot, driving him from the game in the second inning. Before he left, the Pioneers torched Manley for four runs on seven hits and advantage of a lack of control from Linfield’s starter.
Offensively, Linfield displayed exceptional discipline, driving Ball’s pitch count to 44 through the second inning. The ‘Cats clawed their way back into the game, scratching out three runs in the bottom of the third to knot the score at 3-3.
Spencer Crepeaux and Ball both settled into a groove through the middle innings, as neither team scored in the fourth or fifth. Momentum turned the Wildcats’ way in the bottom of the sixth when Kramer Lindell (Sr., West Linn, Ore.) hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot that gave Linfield a one-run lead.
The Pios pushed across the tying run in the eighth, thanks to an infield single from center fielder Eric Hyun. It was Lindell at the plate again when Linfield regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning, as his deep single drove in Jesse Boustead.
Lewis & Clark battled against Jacob Nolte in the ninth, and tied the score at 6-6 in dramatic fashion on a sacrifice fly from Nick Lavin. Nolte escaped the inning with no further damage, leaving two Pioneer runners on base.
Ball threw the complete game for the Pioneers, upping his pitch count to over 140 by the ninth inning. Only three of the Wildcats’ seven runs were earned, as spotty fielding by the Pioneers proved to be the determining factor. Offensively, the senior hurler hit 1-for-3.
Crepeaux posted 6 1/3 innings of relief, allowing only one run on seven hits and no walks.
Kyle Chamberlain extended his hitting streak to seven, taking care of business early with an RBI single in the first. On the day he went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, boosting his season average to .429.
‘CAT SCRATCH: For the second consecutive day, Linfield’s starting pitcher (Manley) was knocked out of the game after being struck by a comeback line drive…the Wildcats have now won 11 straight contests against the Pios.
COMING UP: The ‘Cats travel to Forest Grove next weekend to take on the Pacific Boxers. Saturday’s doubleheader begins at 11 a.m. while Sunday’s single game is scheduled for a noon start.
Hits 1-for-3, scores winning run
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128