McMINNVILLE, Ore. – As the tying run took off for home on a dropped third strike, Linfield catcher Kyle Chamberlain (Sr., Portland, Ore.) threw to first to complete the final out of a tension-filled 4-3 Wildcat victory over Pacific Sunday afternoon at Roy Helser Field.
The ‘Cats took a 4-0 lead into the ninth, but Pacific put together a string of gutsy at-bats and nearly completed the comeback.
Wildcat starter Zach Brandon (Jr., Cottage Grove, Ore.) threw 8 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits with no walks and two strikeouts. The junior right-hander improved to 3-0 on the season, and his ERA now sits at 1.27. Garett Speyer (Jr., Vancouver, Wash.) recorded the final two outs to earn his first save of the 2013 campaign.
Linfield uncharacteristically waited until the fifth inning to score, as Nate McClellan (Jr., Shoreline, Wash.) and Jake Wylie (Jr., Eagle, Idaho) came through with huge back-to-back two-out RBI singles to break the deadlock.
Donnie Bradley recorded both of Pacific’s extra-base hits on the day, with a leadoff double in the fifth and a double to right in the ninth. Boxers starter Kyle Treadway (0-3, 2.60 ERA) lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts. The Boxers fell to 0-9 on the season and are now 0-3 in NWC play.
Pacific tested Chamberlain early on, as leadoff hitter Anson Arakaki took off for second on a 1-0 pitch from Brandon in the first. Chamberlain picked the low pitch out of the turf and threw a strike down to Tim Wilson (Jr., Redmond, Wash.), who applied the tag for the out.
Linfield (10-1, 3-0 NWC) threatened in its half of the third as Nick Fisher (Jr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) and Wilson recorded back-to-back singles with one out. A strikeout by Treadway and a nice play from third baseman Michael Arakaki on a slow-roller got the Boxers out of the jam.
Brandon settled into a groove, setting down nine consecutive batters through the first three innings. Pacific strung together consecutive hits in the fourth when Walker Olis and Logan Moen singled with two outs. Brandon kept his cool and got Nick Tasaka to pop up to end the inning.
Bradley set the table for Pacific in the fifth, shooting the right-center gap for a stand-up double. Dan Jaffe moved Bradley to third with a sacrifice bunt, and Brandon hit the next batter to put runners on the corners with one out. Charlie Gaff tapped the ball back to Brandon, who took a gamble by throwing to Corey VanDomelen (Soph., Tigard, Ore.) at second. The relay throw to first was just in time, and Linfield escaped the inning unharmed.
Wilson beat out a ground ball to second with two out in the fifth, then promptly stole second on the first pitch to VanDomelen. McClellan and Wylie followed with clutch RBI base hits to plate the first runs of the game and make the score 2-0.
Linfield added on in the sixth, as a base hit up the middle from Jordan Harlow (Sr., Baker City, Ore.) brought Chamberlain around to score. Fisher’s ensuing triple to deep center scored Harlow and drove Treadway from the game.
With one out in the seventh, Tasaka sent a shallow pop-up into foul territory down the left-field line. Reading the ball perfectly, Harlow ranged to his right and reached over the fence to make an impressive catch.
Brandon cruised through the eighth and took the mound in the ninth in hopes of matching the complete-game performance of Chris Haddeland (Soph., McMinnville, Ore.) from the day before. Pacific put together one last push, however, as a single from Moen and a double from Bradley ended Brandon’s day.
Speyer issued a walk to Jaffe to load the bases with one out, and Trux French plated the Boxers’ first run of the game on a ground ball fielder’s choice. A walk and a groundout pushed two more runs across for Pacific, but Speyer finished strong with a strikeout with the tying and go-ahead runs on base.
SERIES STANDOUTS: Wylie finished the weekend with a line of 7-for-13 with seven RBI, and two extra base hits, and raised his season batting average to a team-high .463…VanDomelen started all three games at shortstop, perfectly handling all 16 of his fielding chances…the sophomore was also impressive at the plate, hitting 5-for-10 with three RBI, five runs scored and a pair of stolen bases…the Wildcats’ pitching staff enjoyed a great weekend, as the starters combined to throw 23 1/3 of the 27 innings and allowed just three total earned runs.
‘CAT SCRATCH: The ‘Cats have had a knack for timely hitting this season, posting a clip of .336 with runners on third and two outs…for just the second time in the past 10 years, Linfield opened NWC play with a sweep…the ‘Cats have swept a total of 32 three- or four-game series’ in the same period, achieving 15 sweeps at home and 17 on the road.
AHEAD: Linfield hosts Montana State-Billings in a mid-week nonconference matchup on Tuesday, March 5. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. at Roy Helser Field.
Nearly goes the distance on the mound
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128