NEW RIVER, Ariz. – Having nothing to show for 11 hits, Linfield found itself on the wrong end of a 6-0 shutout in its season opener against La Verne on the first day of the Arizona Desert Classic Thursday at Boulder Creek High School.
The final base path from third base to home plate proved elusive for the Wildcats (0-1), who put runners in prime scoring position five times but failed to bring them in for the score. Linfield stranded 12 runners on the day, a frustrating total that canceled out an otherwise productive afternoon in which seven players registered hits.
“We played a lot better than the score indicated,” said head coach Scott Brosius. “We just misfired with runners on third.”
The more successful Leopards (1-0) did their damage in the third, fifth and eighth frames, scoring twice in all three innings. George Hanna and Cody Hazel each went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI to lead La Verne.
Linfield looked good from the first pitch, opening up with a Tim Wilson (Jr., Redmond, Wash.) double. Kenny Johnson (Jr., Federal Way, Wash.) pushed the second baseman over to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Wilson was caught stealing two plays later to end the inning.
Again in the second, third and fourth frames, the ‘Cats advanced base runners to third. The top of the third inning ended abruptly for Linfield after a controversial ruling on an appeal. After singling, Wilson reached the far corner on a successive single from Johnson followed by a groundout by designated hitter Nate McClellan (Jr., Shoreline, Wash.). On the ensuing fly out to left field, Wilson was called out for leaving early, costing the Wildcats another valuable scoring opportunity.
The Leopards got their offense rolling in the bottom of the third to take an early 2-0 lead. Hanna, the sixth batter to face Linfield starter Chris Haddeland (Soph., McMinnville, Ore.) that inning, drove in both runs. His single scored Adrian Franco, who led off with a single, and Michael Stewart, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.
Another double-RBI single from Cody Hazel in the fifth pushed La Verne’s advantage to four.
Linfield, meanwhile, cooled off as the game wore on, totaling only four hits over the final five frames. The Wildcats set up a one-out, bases-loaded situation in the seventh before recording a strikeout and groundout to flip the scorecard.
The Leopards all but assured a victory in the eighth with RBI singles from Mason Stoltenberg and Dylan Leong.
Grossi took the win for La Verne after pitching two hitless innings in relief of Kevin Knight, who scattered seven hits across four innings.
Haddeland went five innings for the Wildcats in his fourth career start, throwing five strikeouts and giving up two earned runs. Reliever Joseph Stevick (Soph., Bremerton, Wash.) also surrendered one earned run on three hits.
Clayton Truex (Jr., Kirkland, Wash.) enjoyed a perfect afternoon, batting 4-for-4, including one of Linfield’s two doubles. Wilson recorded the other as part of his 2-for-4 afternoon.
UP NEXT: Linfield looks to bounce back and pick up its first win of the season against Redlands Friday afternoon. First pitch at Sandra Day O’Connor High School is set for 1:30 p.m. MDT.
Doubles in first at-bat of 2013
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