McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Aaron Thomassen (Jr., Seattle, Wash.) threw seven solid innings, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out five, to lead Linfield to a 3-1 preseason victory over visiting Pacific Lutheran Friday night at Roy Helser Field.
Thomassen improved to 2-0 on the season and ran his total to a dozen strikeouts in 13 innings pitched. Justin Huckins (Sr., Bend, Ore.) took the ball for the final two innings to notch his second save of the season.
Nate McClellan (Sr., Shoreline, Wash.) raised his batting average to .316 with two doubles, and provided the bulk of Linfield’s offense with two RBI. Tim Wilson also drove in a run and stole a base for Linfield, which improved to 4-1 on the young season.
Lute starter Max Beatty (2-1) lasted five innings and gave up three runs on six hits while walking one and striking out five. The Lutes fell to 4-3 on the season with the loss.
Thomassen was efficient in the first, retiring the side in order on three weakly hit balls from the top of the Lutes’ lineup. Beatty followed suit in the bottom of the inning, as he struck out Jake Wylie (Sr., Eagle, Idaho) to leave McClellan stranded on second after at two-out double.
Collin Nilson broke the silence with one out in the second, as a line drive off the right fielder’s bat split the right-center gap. Markus McClurkin and Curtis Wildung followed up with consecutive walks, and the Lutes had the bases loaded for Nicholas Hall.
The junior first baseman brought home the first run of the game with an RBI groundout to first. A ball off the bat of Garrett Brown appeared to be falling into shallow center field, but Lindell dove to grab it at the last second to get Thomassen out of the inning with limited damage.
Jordan Harlow showed off his glove in the third, picking up a slow-roller off the bat of Dominick Courcy to make a perfect throw on the run to record the out.
Thomassen settled into a groove during the middle innings, allowing just two baserunners in the fourth through seventh innings.
Clayton Truex (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) set the stage for the ‘Cats as he led off the bottom of the fifth with a base hit up the middle. After he advanced to second on a wild pitch, Harlow shot a line drive into center field to put runners at the corners with no outs. Wilson tapped a ball back to the mound then beat out the back end of a double-play attempt, which allowed Truex to score the tying run.
Linfield extended the two-out rally as Wilson stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch, Corey VanDomelen (Jr., Tigard, Ore.) drew a walk and McClellan drove a ball deep over McClurkin’s head that plated both runners.
Huckins took the ball in the top of the eighth, and retired the side on a pair of strikeouts and a groundout. A two-out double from McClurkin kept the Lutes alive in the ninth, and pinch hitter Chris Bishop drew a walk to put the tying run aboard. Huckins kept his calm and struck out Hall to finish the game and earn the save.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield beat PLU in three out of four contests in 2012, all of which took place in McMinnville…Beatty, a junior, did not face the Wildcats in 2012 as he was diagnosed with testicular cancer before the start of the season…McClellan leads the Wildcats with eight RBI on the season…Huckins now has eight strikeouts in five scoreless innings of relief in 2013.
NEXT UP: Linfield takes on Corban Saturday at 2 p.m. in the front end of its first doubleheader of 2013. The game comes in between two matchups against NWC opponents, Friday’s game against the Lutes and a 5 p.m. Saturday bout with Pacific. All games are part of the Cascade/Northwest Conference Baseball Challenge.
Fifth-inning, two-RBI double gives Linfield the lead
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McMinnville, OR 97128