McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Pacific Lutheran's Jacob Otness threw 3 2/3 innings of solid relief and Brock Gates hit his sixth home run of the season, keying the Lutes to a dramatic 6-5 Northwest Conference victory over No. 19 Linfield on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Roy Helser Field.
For the third consecutive game, PLU (18-10, 10-5 NWC) posted a run in the first inning, and Linfield responded in its half to knot the score at 1-1. The ‘Cats played small ball early, as a groundout from Jordan Harlow (Sr., Baker City, Ore.) moved Tim Wilson (Jr., Redmond, Wash.) to third and a subsequent groundout from Kramer Lindell (Jr., West Linn, Ore.) plated Linfield’s first run of the afternoon.
Following the lead of Ryan Larson and Zach Manley (Sr., Coburg, Ore.) on the previous day, starter Zach Brandon (Jr., Cottage Grove, Ore.) settled into a solid rhythm, retiring ten straight Lutes over a four-inning span.
Linfield (19-8, 15-6 NWC) broke the tie in the third when Harlow sent his second home run of the season over the right field fence, just left of the scoreboard. The switch hitter was batting from the left side, and his two-run blast made the score 3-1 in favor of the ‘Cats.
The ‘Cats threatened in the fifth, putting runners on second and third with two outs. Lindell smoked a ground ball to short, but shortstop Sammy Davis made a slick sliding stop-and-throw to record the out and prevent the two runners from scoring.
Davis promptly led off the next inning with a double to right center field, and came around to score on a bang-bang play at the plate with two outs. The fire was lit for PLU, as Gates hit a 3-2 pitch from Brandon onto the train tracks behind left field to give the Lutes a 4-3 lead.
Following the theme of the weekend, Linfield responded once again after falling behind. On an 0-1 pitch from Lutes pitcher Chris Bishop, Zach Boskovich hit a ball into the shot-put pit well beyond the left field fence to knot the score at 4-all.
Trouble arose for Linfield in the seventh, as Chris Haddeland (Soph., McMinnville, Ore.) worked himself into a bases-loaded jam with one out before turning the ball over to Robert Vaughn. The senior right-hander got out of the inning with a strikeout and groundout to strand three Lutes and preserve the tie score.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the seventh, Chamberlain sent a 1-2 pitch into right field, and Harlow caught the front corner of the plate to beat the throw from right fielder Jaron Iwakami. The base hit gave Linfield a 5-4 lead.
PLU was quick to respond in its half of the eighth, loading the bases off of Vaughn with no outs. An infield single and bases-loaded walk plated a pair of runs, but Vaughn was able to draw three consecutive groundouts to get out of the jam and limit the damage to two runs.
The Lutes carried the 6-5 lead into the ninth, and Otness remained in the game to face the top of the Wildcats’ lineup. The right-hander promptly retired the side in order, salvaging a victory for the visitors.
Wilson finished 3-for-5 with two runs and a stolen base for the ‘Cats.
Jacob Hoffman added a pair of hits and two RBI for the Lutes, and Bo Pearson and Davis had two more each.
NEXT UP: The ‘Cats hit the road and head to Orange, Calif., to take on Chapman University, last year’s national runner-up, in a four-game set slated to start next Friday at 7 p.m. at Hart Field. The contest kicks off a stretch of ten straight away games for Linfield, spanning from April 13 until Friday, May 4, when the ‘Cats return to Roy Helser Field to battle NAIA powerhouse Lewis-Clark State.
Three hits, two stolen bases
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128