Game 2 Box Score
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Chris Haddeland (Jr., McMinnville, Ore.) and Joseph Stevick (Jr., Bremerton, Wash.) combined for a two-hit shutout and top-ranked Linfield produced six runs before five Western Oregon pitchers quieted the Wildcat offense to split a doubleheader in nonconference baseball action on a blustery Sunday afternoon at Roy Helser Field.
Linfield's Jo Carroll (Jr., Bend, Ore.) and Western Oregon's Tim Rausch delivered multiple-RBI performances to lead their respective teams to victory, with the Wildcats taking a 6-0 win in Game 1 before the Wolves responded with a 5-0 triumph in Game 2.
The two-game series, featuring defending NCAA Division III champion Linfield (5-1) and reigning Great Northwest Athletic Conference (DII) champion Western Oregon (5-3), was originally scheduled as a home-and-home series, but a rainy week on top of already wet field conditions from a weekend snowstorm forced the teams to play both games in McMinnville.
GAME 1: Linfield 6, Western Oregon 0
Carroll's three-RBI double highlighted a five-run, game-changing fifth inning in the Wildcats' home-opening victory.
Linfield and Western Oregon each put a runner on second through the first two frames, but starting pitchers Haddeland and Eric Huson limited their opposing hitters to one hit apiece to keep the scoreboard at zeros.
Wolves middle reliever Matt Minnich worked his way through a rough start to the fourth inning, walking Clayton Truex (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) and hitting Kramer Lindell (Sr., West Linn, Ore.) to put two runners on with no outs. Western Oregon's senior lefty recorded three straight outs, however, to avoid surrendering the first run of the game.
But Linfield, the top-ranked team in NCAA Division III, sensed its window of opportunity, and broke through the Wolves defense in the next frame.
Finn McMichael (Soph., Richland, Wash.) drew a leadoff walk, and after stealing second, advanced to third when Corey VanDomelen (Jr., Tigard, Ore.) dropped a bunt in front of the plate and beat the throw to first. VanDomelen then attempted to steal second, and reached the second bag when the defense elected to hold McMichael at third. McMichael did not have long to wait, though, as Wylie brought the speedy left fielder home on a hard-hit single to right center.
Truex put a ball in play on the turf in the next at-bat and a mishandled ball by WOU's senior shortstop allowed VanDomelen to score and Truex to reach first. Carroll followed up with a double to the far left corner, scoring three more runners and pushing Linfield's lead to 5-0.
Haddeland and the rest of the Linfield defense, meanwhile, continued to cruise through the middle innings. The Wildcats turned a double play in the sixth, and after walking Tim Rausch to open the seventh frame, Haddeland ended his outing with a high line drive to VanDomelen and back-to-back strikeouts.
Eric Lawson (Soph., Mill Creek, Wash.) tacked on another run for the ‘Cats in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI single to left field.
Stevick took the mound to open the eighth, and supplied two hitless innings to seal up the win for the Wildcats.
Western Oregon went deep into its pitching staff, using a total of five arms. Offensively, Chris Bradshaw and Matt Taylor supplied the only hits for the Wolves.
GAME 2: Western Oregon 4, Linfield 0
The Wolves flipped the script in the second game, posting back-to-back two-run innings in the sixth and seventh frames and limiting the Wildcats to a pair of hits.
After Nick Fisher (Sr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) supplied a one-out single, Wylie shot a deep fly ball that was bobbled in left field. But with runners on second and third Linfield couldn't cash in, as Fisher was tagged out at the plate on a fielder's choice and Lindell was just a bit shy of beating the throw to first in the next at-bat.
Zach Brandon (Sr., Cottage Grove, Ore.) got out to a great start, retiring six of the first eight Wolves he faced, but worked himself into a jam in the of the third. After hitting Jacob Whisler, Brandon surrendered a single to leadoff man Bradshaw and walking Taylor to load the bases with no outs. Linfield's senior never faltered, though, striking out Rausch before coaxing successive flyouts to escape the inning – and blustery conditions – unscathed.
Western Oregon starter Clark McKitrick countered with a three up, three down bottom half of the third to bring the Wolves back to the plate in the hopes of getting something going offensively. Unfortunately for the visitors, Brandon and the Linfield defense held firm, surrendering a single up the middle before recording a strikeout and turning a double play.
Truex sent the first pitch from reliever Spencer Watkins into left field for a base hit to lead off the fourth, but Lindell hit into a double play in the next at-bat to clear the bases and Watkins struck out Lawson to keep the ‘Cats off the scoreboard.
After hurling five scoreless innings, Brandon handed off to Aaron Thomassen (Jr., Seattle, Wash.) to start the sixth. Linfield's usual Game 2 starter opened his day by issuing three walks to load the bags, and Caleb Falck's sacrifice fly to right scored the Wolves' first run of the series. Western Oregon tacked on another score in the next at-bat, when Garrett Harpole advanced home on a double steal for a 2-0 lead.
Rausch doubled the Wolves' advantage in the top of the seventh, shooting a two-run homer into the wind and over the left-field fence, and Daniel McNabb pushed the spread to the decisive five runs with an RBI single in the ninth.
Fisher drilled a double to left field off WOU closer Kody Stone, and Wylie drew a walk to put two runners on base for Linfield's final chance to rally. But the Wolves turned a double play and struck out Lindell to preserve the shutout.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Fans reserved a seat behind home plate for the late Arnie Owens, Linfield's longtime fan who passed away while attending the NCAA Finals last season…the Wildcats stole a season-high three bases in Game 1…Linfield was shut out for the first time all year.
AHEAD: Linfield plays host to Corban Friday evening at 5 p.m. at Roy Helser Field in McMinnville. The contest is the second of a six-game crossover between several Northwest Conference and Cascade Conference programs.
Pitches seven scoreless innings in Game 1
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128