SALEM, Ore. – Brandon Simon threw eight-plus strong innings as Willamette muscled its way to a 6-3 Northwest Conference victory over 15th-ranked Linfield Sunday afternoon at John Lewis Field.
The Bearcats’ senior right-hander allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Brad Breier went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, and Brandon Chinn drove in a pair of runs for Willamette. The Bearcats improved to 6-9 on the season, and are now 2-4 in NWC play.
Linfield starter Zach Brandon (Jr., Cottage Grove, Ore.) lasted 6 1/3 innings, allowing six runs and five hits with one walk and five strikeouts. The junior righty fell to 3-1 on the year and his ERA climbed to 2.28.
Offensively, Jake Wylie (Jr., Eagle, Idaho) went 2-for-4 on the day with a double, a home run, an RBI and two runs scored for the ‘Cats. Corey VanDomelen (Soph., Tigard, Ore.) posted a line of 3-for-4, and Tim Wilson (Jr., Redmond, Wash.) and Kramer Lindell (Jr., West Linn, Ore.) each had a pair of base hits for Linfield. The Wildcats fell to 12-3 overall and are now 5-1 in 2013 NWC action.
A leadoff walk in the first drawn by Tyson Giza spelled disaster for Linfield, as two singles and an RBI groundout from the next three Bearcat hitters gave Willamette a 2-0 lead. After Brandon struck out Sky Kelley looking, Breier came through with a clutch two-out RBI single to left that gave Willamette its third run of the afternoon.
Though VanDomelen singled in the first, Linfield’s shortstop was caught stealing, which allowed Simon to face the minimum nine Wildcat hitters through the first three innings.
Both starters settled into a groove in the second through fourth innings, and after Brandon retired the side in order in the fourth, Linfield finally showed some life offensively. Wylie led off the fifth frame with his second home run and team-high 16th RBI of the year. The blast to left field was all Linfield would get, however, as Simon struck out the offensive hero of Saturday’s doubleheader, Nick Fisher (Jr., Lake Oswego, Ore.), with two Wildcats on base.
Linfield didn’t catch any breaks, as Wilson was picked off in the sixth after a leadoff single, and Nate McClellan (Jr., Shoreline, Wash.) grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Willamette extended its lead in the seventh. Breier and Ben Petersen reached and were moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt from Tanner Oates. Chinn came through with a two-run single to left that made the score 5-1 and prompted Linfield head coach Scott Brosius to make a pitching change.
Matt Hirsch kept the inning going for the Bearcats, as his ground ball to short led to a bad throw from VanDomelen that allowed Chinn to score Willamette’s sixth run. Linfield’s sure-handed shortstop uncharacteristically made two errors on the day after handling 49-of-50 chances coming into the game.
Linfield picked up a run in the eighth, thanks to a two-out rally sparked by a base hit from Wilson and finished with an RBI double by VanDomelen.
Reliever Garett Speyer (Jr., Vancouver, Wash.) turned in a perfect eighth inning to keep the Wildcats within striking distance and give Linfield one final chance to come back.
Wylie led off the ninth by driving a 1-1 pitch from Simon to left for a double, and walks to Lindell and Kyle Chamberlain (Sr., Portland, Ore.) loaded the bases with no outs. Harlow drove in Wylie with a groundout, but Simon got Fisher to fly out to end the game.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield has a 3-3 record this season when opponents score three or more runs…Willamette became the first opponent to score in the first inning against Linfield this season…four different Wildcats have homered in the past four games.
COMING UP: Linfield returns home to host Whitman in more NWC action next weekend. A doubleheader between the ‘Cats and the Missionaries is slated for noon Saturday, followed by a single game the next day at noon.
RBI groundout pushes across Linfield's final run of the game
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