SPOKANE, Wash. – Nick Fisher (Sr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) went 3-for-4 with a two-run double that highlighted a five-run fifth inning as Linfield blew past Whitworth 10-5 Sunday afternoon to complete a Northwest Conference sweep at Merkel Stadium.
Linfield starter Zach Brandon (Sr., Cottage Grove, Ore.) tossed five spotless innings, allowing just three hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Brandon improved to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.13. Linfield is now 19-3 on the season and its 11-1 record in NWC play keeps the ‘Cats atop the conference standings.
Jason Renner was roughed up in four innings on the mound, allowing eight runs on eight hits with three walks and a strikeout. Whitworth fell to 9-12-1 on the season with the loss, and slipped below .500 in NWC action with a record of 4-5.
Fisher singled and stole second with one out in the top of the second, and a slumping Nate McClellan (Sr., Shoreline, Wash.) came through with an RBI double that gave the ‘Cats the early lead, 1-0.
Brandon retired the first six Pirates he faced before plunking Blake Thoren to start the third. The right-hander shook off the base runner, and held onto a no-hitter until Tyler Pfeffer singled to center with one out in the fourth.
Fisher got a two-out rally started for Linfield in the fourth as he singled to left field and McClellan and Jordan Harlow followed with walks to load the bases. Kyle Chamberlain stepped up and delivered a huge two-run base hit to right that pushed Linfield’s advantage to 3-0.
After Brandon shut down Whitworth’s bats in the bottom of the fourth, Linfield exploded for a five-run fifth that put the game out of reach. Tim Wilson and Corey VanDomelen (Jr., Tigard, Ore.) led off with back-to-back singles, and Jake Wylie (Sr., Eagle, Idaho) shot an RBI double to center before Kramer Lindell (Sr., West Linn, Ore.) was intentionally walked to load the bases. Fisher cleared the bases with a double, and Harlow delivered an RBI-single two batters later to cap off the huge inning.
Whitworth picked up a pair of runs in the sixth off of new Wildcat pitcher Joseph Stevik as walk, a hit batter and a base hit loaded the bases. Gerhard Muelheims hit a sacrifice fly that drove in Jeremy Druffel, and Thoren doubled to right two batters latter to make the score 8-2.
Linfield responded in the top of the seventh, as pinch hitter Clayton Truex (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) brought Lindell home with a double to right, and Harlow followed with an RBI single to center that brought the Wildcats’ lead back to eight.
A triple by Erik Nikssarian to start the seventh followed by base hits from Nick Motsinger and Druffel gave the Pirates another run and prompted Linfield head coach Scott Brosius to replace Stevik with closer Justin Huckins (Sr., Bend, Ore.). Pfeffer drove in another run with a fielder’s choice groundout, but Huckins got the next two Pirates out and limited the damage to just two runs.
The Pirates put together a final push in the ninth, as a double by Pfeffer put runners on second and third. Pinch hitter Marlowe Peter brought Motsinger home on a groundout, but Huckins got Muelheims to fly out to end the game and seal the sweep for the ‘Cats.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Fisher now has nine multi-hit games this season…Wilson leads the Wildcats in the same category with a dozen, Wylie has eight and Lindell has seven so far in 2013…Linfield’s 29 runs scored in the three-game set was the most in a NWC series so far this season…with a George Fox loss on Saturday, Linfield moved into sole possession of first place in the NWC with the sweep of Whitworth.
NEXT UP: Linfield returns home next weekend to host Puget Sound in a three-game NWC series at Roy Helser Field. A doubleheader is set for noon on Friday, March 29, followed by a single game on Saturday at the same start time.
Smacks fifth double of the year
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