McMINNVILLE, Ore. – The third home run in as many days from Jake Wylie (Sr., Eagle, Idaho) was overshadowed by a dramatic eighth-inning grand slam by Connor Savage that proved to be the deciding factor in a back-and-forth 9-7 Puget Sound victory over No. 1 Linfield Saturday afternoon at Roy Helser Field.
Savage finished the day with three hits, and Lucas Stone threw four solid innings in relief to earn the victory. Nathan Aguiar started for UPS and threw five innings, allowing four runs on six hits with two walks and a strikeout. The Loggers improved to 11-15 on the season and moved back to .500 in NWC play with a record of 6-6.
Wylie went 2-for-5 with four RBI and finished the weekend with an incredible line of 5-for-11 with three home runs, 13 RBI, three runs scored and two walks.
Linfield starter Zach Brandon (Sr., Cottage Grove, Ore.) threw 6 1/3 innings for the ‘Cats, allowing four runs on 10 hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Kyle Chamberlain put together an impressive line of 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored, and Kramer Lindell (Sr., West Linn, Ore.) drove in a run on a pair of hits and stole a base for the ‘Cats. Linfield fell to 20-4 on the season and 13-2 in NWC play, with the loss snapping the Wildcats’ eight-game winning streak.
Brandon worked around a leadoff base hit by Savage in the first and retired the next three batters to get out of the inning.
Tim Wilson got the ‘Cats started in the first with a leadoff walk, and Corey VanDomelen (Jr., Tigard, Ore.) moved him over with a ground out. Wylie didn’t miss a beat as he continued his tear at the plate with an RBI single to right that made the score 1-0.
Linfield’s second baseman got plenty of work in the second, as he caught a line drive, ranged far to his left to field a ground ball in the grass and pirouetted before throwing to first, and easily took care of a pop up to end the inning with two runners left stranded.
Stone, who started the game as the Loggers’ designated hitter, singled with one out in the third and Christian Carter sent a fly ball into shallow center field. Lindell broke in on the ball, made the catch and threw a strike to Clayton Truex (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) at first to double up the runner and end the inning.
UPS showed life in the fourth, as Nathan Backes reached on an infield single and Bobby Hosmer followed with a base hit into right field. JB Eary stepped to the plate with two outs and shot a two-run double into the gap in left center that put the Loggers up 2-1.
Wylie entered the box to lead off the fourth for the ‘Cats, and he sent a 2-1 pitch to deep center that appeared off the bat to be headed for the hitter’s eye. Logger’s center fielder Stephen Kelsey tracked the ball onto the warning track, however, and leapt at the wall with perfect timing to snag the drive and rob Wylie of at least a double, if not his third home run of the series.
Brandon retired the side efficiently in the fifth with a pop up and two strikeouts, and got Linfield’s hitters back to the plate quickly.
Chamberlain lined a base hit into left field with one out, and VanDomelen beat out a ground ball in the six hole to put two runners on with two outs. Wylie followed with arguably the most impressive at-bat of the weekend. After working a full count and fouling off several close pitches, the runners took off with Aguiar’s delivery. Linfield’s left fielder got a hanging breaking ball and didn’t miss it, as he blasted it onto the train tracks in left center, a three-run shot that put the ‘Cats ahead 4-2.
Linfield struck again in the sixth, as Chamberlain shot an RBI single through the right side that plated Nate McClellan (Sr., Shoreline, Wash.) and moved pinch runner Michael Hopp to third. Wilson followed with a sacrifice fly to center and the Wildcats held a solid four-run advantage.
The Loggers refused to give up, as three straight hits produced a run and put runners at second and third for new Wildcat pitcher Garett Speyer (Sr., Vancouver, Wash.). Carter brought home another run with a ground out, but a ground ball to Jordan Harlow at third ended the inning and kept the Wildcats ahead by two.
After recording the first two outs of the eighth inning, Speyer loaded the bases with a pair of walks sandwiched by an infield single. Justin Huckins (Sr., Bend, Ore.) took over in relief, and momentum took a huge turn in favor of the Loggers when Savage launched a deep fly ball off of the scoreboard behind the right field fence. The grand slam handed the lead back to UPS and left the Wildcats with just six outs to put together a comeback.
Jeff Walton produced an insurance run for the Loggers in the top of the ninth, delivering a clutch two-out RBI-double into the left field corner that brought home Kaulana Smith.
Chamberlain got the ‘Cats started in the ninth with a double to right center, and Wilson and VanDomelen followed with singles to load the bases for Wylie. The junior smoked an 0-1 pitch towards left field, but Smith reached out and snagged the frozen rope at the last second to rob Wylie of a hit. Lindell drove a ball to deep left that brought home Chamberlain, and Fisher punched a ground ball into left to reload the bases for Harlow with two outs. Stone buckled down and got a game ending groundout, and the Loggers spoiled Linfield’s bid for its third consecutive NWC sweep.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield has hit into just eight double plays all season…Wylie’s third homer in as many games makes him tied with Whitman’s Kyle Moyes for the conference lead with five…Wylie extended his hitting streak to 13 games…Huckins has thrown more than one inning in six appearances in 2013…the grand slam was the first home run allowed by the Wildcats’ pitching staff this season.
AHEAD: Linfield travels to Tacoma next weekend to take on NWC rival Pacific Lutheran in a three-game series. A doubleheader is set for noon on April 6, and the final game is the following day at the same start time.
Perfect 3-for-3 at the plate
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