McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Tim Wilson and Kramer Lindell (Sr., West Linn, Ore.) put on a show at the plate with four hits each, and Nick Fisher (Sr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) came up with a decisive three-run triple in the sixth as Linfield took the lead late to down Whitman 7-2 in the final game of a NWC set Sunday afternoon at Roy Helser Field.
Linfield (15-3, 8-1 NWC) outhit Whitman 15-10, though half of the Missionaries’ hits were doubles. Cameron Young and Jimmy Madden were the only two players to record multiple hits for Whitman, which fell to 7-12 on the season with the loss and 2-7 in NWC play.
Zach Brandon (Sr., Cottage Grove, Ore.) threw 5 1/3 quality innings for Linfield, allowing two runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and five strikeouts. Joseph Stevick (Jr., Bremerton, Wash.) turned in 2 1/3 innings in relief to earn his first win of the season. The right-hander was near perfect, allowing just one hit and no walks with a strikeout as he preserved the Wildcats’ lead.
Brandon made quick work of the Missionaries in the first, retiring the side in order on just 10 pitches.
Corey VanDomelen (Jr., Tigard, Ore.) chopped a ball to third and beat the throw with one out in the first, and Jake Wylie (Sr., Eagle, Idaho) followed with a base hit up the middle. After walking Lindell to load the bases, Whitman starter Justin Weeks buckled down and retired the next two Wildcat hitters to escape the jam.
A two-out walk issued to Peter Valentine was followed by a base hit by Madden, and Whitman put two runners on in the second. Brandon kept calm, however, and struck out Eli Mathieu to preserve the shutout.
Jordan Harlow and Michael Hopp set the stage for Wilson in the second with a walk and a base hit. Wilson, making his first start of the year in the outfield, came through with an RBI single into center field to make the score 1-0.
The Wildcats doubled their lead in the third, as Lindell led off with a base hit to center. Back-to-back fly balls to center from Nate McClellan (Sr., Shoreline, Wash.) and Clayton Truex (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) moved Lindell to third and scored him, but Weeks did well to limit the damage to a single run.
Kyle Buckham lined a ball into the gap in left center with one out in the fifth, and a ground ball from Ozzy Braff moved Whitman’s leadoff hitter over to third. Aaron Cohen, who recorded a clutch two-out, game-tying double in Game 2 on Saturday, drove the ball on a line into left field. Wilson broke in and dove at the last second, but the ball glanced off of his glove and Buckham came around to score.
Lindell led off an inning with a base hit for the second time, and Fisher followed suit with a single of his own to put Wildcats on base in the bottom of the fifth. A sacrifice bunt from McClellan and a walk to Truex set up Harlow, the hero from Saturday, with the bases loaded. Weeks got the senior third baseman to ground into a momentum-shifting and inning-ending double play, and the score remained 2-1.
The Missionaries didn’t miss a beat as Young drove Brandon’s second pitch of the sixth off the base of the wall in left center. Brandon then struck out Valentine before turning the ball over to Stevick. Mathieu came through with a clutch two-out RBI double to right that knotted the score at 2-2 and spoiled Brandon’s chance to record a win.
Hopp worked a full count and drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixth, and Wilson laid down a picture-perfect drag bunt for a base hit. VanDomelen bunted the runners over to second and third and the heart of Linfield’s lineup took care of the rest. Wylie drew a walk, Lindell drove in a run with an infield single, and Fisher cleared the bases with a three-run triple to right center.
Wilson gave a prime example in the seventh of why he is arguably one of the fastest players in the NWC. The lefty drilled a ball into the left-center gap and didn’t show any sign of a second thought as he effortlessly glided 270 feet and slid head first into third.
Linfield added one final run in the eighth for good measure, as an RBI fielder’s choice by Kameron Bates (Jr., Springfield, Ore.) put the game out of reach for the Missionaries.
Garett Speyer (Sr., Vancouver, Wash.) threw the final 1 1/3 innings to finish off the game for the ‘Cats.
‘CAT SCRATCH: The ‘Cats are 10-1 at home this season and 2-1 on the road…Wylie made his first start of 2013 behind the plate…Linfield is a perfect 14-0 when leading after the sixth inning…Wilson’s seventh-inning triple gave him four on the season to tie Timothy Williams of George Fox for the most in the NWC…six Wildcats are hitting .350 or better on the season…for the first time in 2013, Linfield hitters did not strike out for an entire game…Lindell and Wilson each had seven hits on the weekend, and Wylie led the way with four RBI and two doubles for the ‘Cats.
UP NEXT: Linfield heads to Spokane next weekend for a three-game NWC series against Whitworth. The ‘Cats and Pirates are set for a doubleheader at noon on Saturday, March 23, and the series wraps up the next day with a single game at the same start time.
Throws 1.1 scoreless innings of relief
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128