Game 2 Box Score
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Home runs by Kaaren Hatlen and Lindsey Matsuanga helped Pacific Lutheran snap Linfield’s 32-game conference winning streak, part of a shocking Northwest Conference doubleheader sweep of the home-standing Wildcats Sunday afternoon at Del Smith Stadium.
The unranked Lutes (13-5, 11-1 NWC) stunned the unbeaten, top-ranked and defending national champions (12-2, 10-2 NWC) with 9-5 and 6-2 come-from-behind victories.
PLU handed Linfield its first conference losses in 365 calendar days. The NWC runner-up in 2011, PLU accounted for Linfield’s lone conference loss a season ago.
The opener was a home-run hitting derby with both sides twice sending the ball deep over the outfield fence.
The Lutes jumped on the Wildcats from the word go, getting a two-run homer from Hatlen in the top of the first inning.
Linfield answered with a two-run single by Staci Doucette in the bottom of the frame to tie the game. The ‘Cats followed it up with a go-ahead run from Ashley Garcia (Jr., Beaverton, Ore.) that scored pinch runner Kate Hasty from third base.
PLU kept the pedal to the metal in the second, combining a pair of errors with run-scoring singles by Montessa Califano and Ami Gran to move back in front, 5-3. The Lutes added a single run in the third inning when Matsunaga drove home Spencer Sherwin from third.
Linfield went to its bread and butter, the home run ball, notching single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Katy Brosig (Jr., Forest Grove, Ore.) spanked her third homer of the season to left field and Jaydee Baxter delivered her second roundtrip ticket of the season to draw the ‘Cats to within a single run, 6-5.
Karina Paavola (Jr., Kelso, Wash.) relieved Wildcats starter Lauren Harvey to begin the fifth and promptly struck out the first three batters she faced. PLU then put runners at second and third, setting the table for Matsunago’s fireworks. The sophomore second baseman clubbed a three-run homer off the pitch of Paavola, giving the Lutes a 9-5 lead that would stand as the final outcome.
Harvey (6-1) suffered her first defeat in the pitching circle since 2010. The senior righthander gave up six hits, four earned runs and a couple of walks.
Hatlen went 3-for-3 at the plate, Staci Hagensen was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Matsunaga, the game’s hero, finished with four RBI after going 2-for-4.
Hagensen, PLU’s starting pitcher, gave up 11 hits and four earned runs but struck out five Wildcats.
Both teams piled up 11 hits but the Wildcats were saddled with a season-high four errors in suffering their first defeat of 2012.
Another neck-and-neck battle ensued in the nightcap with both teams planting five hits across the first six innings.
Emilee Lepp broke the ice in the Linfield third inning, driving a RBI double to the outfield that scored Grace Middelstadt (Soph., Battle Ground, Wash.) from first.
Jordan Mixsell launched her fifth home run of the season in the fourth to push the Wildcats’ lead to 2-0.
Drama unfolded in the top of the seventh. Base hits by Haley Harshaw and Katie Lowery were followed by a triple from Califano that knotted the game at 2. PLU took a one-run lead on a triple down the right-field line by Hagensen, then Hatlen sent a two-run homer to the left-field fence to make it 5-2.
After holding PLU without a run until the Lutes were down to their final two outs in the seventh, Paavola saw the wheels come of the Linfield wagon in a matter of minutes. Paavola struck out seven Lutes and scattered five hits before PLU unloaded with a five-hit, five-run explosion.
Harvey relieved Paavola with the Wildcats trailing 5-2 and fared no better. The all-star pitcher gave up consecutive doubles to Hall and Matsunaga that plated yet another run.
Hatlen, Hall, Lowery and Harshaw each recorded a pair of hits. PLU pounded a dozen hits off Paavola and Harvey, six of which went for extra bases.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Sunday’s games started nearly three hours late while both teams waited for a wet weather system to pass through the area. . . prior to Sunday, Harvey’s last pitching defeat came nearly two years earlier in a 7-3 loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on March 20, 2010. . . over the last two seasons, Linfield owned a 25-0 record when taking a lead into the seventh inning.
COMING UP: Linfield heads to Forest Grove on Saturday for a doubleheader rematch with the Pacific Boxers. . . action starts at noon at Sherman-Larkins Stadium. . . the Wildcats’ next home games are Sunday at noon against the Lewis & Clark Pioneers.
Four hits, including HR
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128