McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Drew Fosnes and Colter Sternhagen highlighted a five-run sixth inning with a pair of RBI doubles to left center and NCAA Division II Montana State-Billings walked its way to a 10-5 nonconference win over Linfield Tuesday afternoon at Roy Helser Field.
Nick Fisher (Sr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) turned in a line of 3-for-4 on the day with a double, two RBI and a run scored for the ‘Cats. Kramer Lindell (Sr., West Linn, Ore.) notched his first home run of the 2013 season and scored two runs. Kyle Chamberlain caught all nine innings and was kept busy blocking balls behind the plate.
Linfield took a pitch-by-committee approach, utilizing five different hurlers and giving its well-rested bullpen a chance to face live hitters. The staff had great difficulty finding the strike zone throughout the game, issuing a dozen walks. Garrett Miller (Jr., Corvallis, Ore.) suffered the loss as the Wildcats fell to 10-2 on the season.
MSUB appeared to employ a similar pitching strategy, as starter Lucas Blehm threw just 2 1/3 innings. Three other Yellowjackets combined to finish the game, with Kole Mickolio earning the win. The visitors improved to 4-14-1 on the season with the win.
Joseph Stevick (Jr., Bremerton, Wash.) started the game off strong, retiring the side in order in the first on a fly out, strikeout and groundout.
Eight of Blehm’s first nine pitches were out of the strike zone, and back-to-back walks set the stage for an early rally. An ensuing walk to Lindell with two outs loaded the bases, but a popup stranded the runners and got Blehm out of the jam.
Fisher drew a walk in the second, and when a throw from Yellowjacket shortstop Colby Robison on a two-out groundball from Kenny Johnson (Sr., Federal Way, Wash.) pulled first baseman Brad Birch off the bag, Linfield took a 1-0 lead.
After Stevick struck out the side in the second, Birch drew a leadoff walk off the 6-foot-6 right-hander. Justin Harcharik came through for the Yellowjackets with two outs, smoking a ball past a sliding Clayton Truex (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) for an RBI double that knotted the score at 1-1.
Linfield responded in the bottom of the third, as Lindell drove a ball off the hitter’s eye just to the left of the 380-foot sign in dead center for his first homer of the season. Fisher followed with an RBI double off new pitcher Kole Mickolio, and Linfield jumped ahead 3-1.
Kyle Billeci (Jr., Aloha, Ore.) took over for Stevick in the fifth, and struck out Orrin Pyrah for the first out. A walk and a pair of singles to left loaded the bases for MSUB, and a two-out walk on a 3-2 pitch to Robison brought home the Yellowjackets’ second run of the day. A wild pitch allowed Harcharik to score the tying run, before Billeci finally retired DeYoung on strikes to end the inning.
Two more walks issued by Billeci in the sixth brought Brody Miller to the plate with two outs. The Yellowjacket second baseman sent a sharp ground ball up the middle and as Corey VanDomelen (Jr., Tigard, Ore.) ranged to his left, the ball glanced off the glove of Miller, the new Wildcat pitcher, and rolled into left field, allowing Pyrah to score. Fosnes and Sternhagen stretched out the lead with two doubles to left-center that drove in three total runs and made the score 8-3.
Linfield tacked on a run in the sixth, but failed to capitalize with another runner in scoring position and MSUB maintained a sizeable four-run advantage. The ‘Cats scored one final run on a base hit to center by Fisher with two out in the ninth, but Travis Vincent recorded the final out in the next at bat.
‘CAT SCRATCH: The matchup was the first ever between the Yellowjackets and the Wildcats…Stevik made his first career start for the Wildcats…the last time Linfield allowed a double-digit walks total was Feb. 13, 2010 in a 9-8 victory over Cal Lutheran…Linfield has not faced a left-handed starter in 2013…despite not having a left-handed pitcher on their roster, the Wildcats have held opposing left-handed batters to a lower batting average than right-handed batters (.167 vs. .187).
NEXT UP: Linfield resumes NWC action this weekend when the Wildcats travel to Willamette for a three-game set against the Bearcats. A doubleheader is set to start at 11 a.m. on Saturday, followed by the final game of the series on Sunday at noon.
Six strikeouts in four innings
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