McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Corban second baseman Stockton Taylor registered a perfect 4-for-4 outing and pinch hitter Ben Straka delivered the game-winning RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth as the Warriors twice rallied from two-run deficits to upset top-ranked Linfield 6-5 Friday evening at Roy Helser Field.
The Wildcats (5-2) led 2-0 after one inning and 4-2 after three frames before surrendering four runs over the final five frames to suffer its second home-field loss of the year. Linfield had the tying run on third with one out in the ninth, but left the runner stranded, one of 12 the ‘Cats left aboard on the night.
Warriors starter Eli Driessen gave up four runs off three hits, but relievers Jordan Johansen, Tony Davison and Jacob Kopra limited Linfield to three hits the rest of the way as Corban (3-5) built its comeback.
Linfield struck quickly, posting two runs in its half of the first frame. Corey VanDomelen (Jr., Tigard, Ore.), the team's leader in base on balls a season ago, drew a leadoff walk, and scored in the next at-bat when Nick Fisher (Sr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) launched a double to the left corner. Fisher advanced to third on a fly out from Jake Wylie (Sr., Eagle, Idaho), and Kramer Lindell (Sr., West Linn, Ore.) brought his senior teammate home with a groundout to short.
The Warriors responded in the next half inning with a little small ball. Tyler Bennett singled to center, Davis Alderman advanced the five-hole hitter to second on a sacrifice bunt and Taylor's ensuing double to the right-center gap scored Bennett and cut Linfield's lead in half.
Aaron Thomassen (Jr., Seattle, Wash.) retired the first two Warriors to dig in to start the third before Marc Gallegos sent a 3-1 pitch 355 feet over the left-field fence to knot the score at two runs apiece.
The tie game was short-lived, however, as the Wildcats put up two more runs in their half of the third. Truex sliced two pitches foul and took a ball before sending a shot into left for a base hit. When Lindell followed up with a perfectly placed fly ball that dropped in exact right center, Truex rounded the bases and skated past Corban catcher William Koenig to put the lead back in Wildcat control. A sacrifice fly from Eric Lawson (Soph., Mill Creek, Wash.) scored Lindell from third and doubled up Linfield's lead once again, 4-2, at the end of three.
After spoiling another bases-loaded situation in the fourth, the Wildcats failed to get the easy out at first on Gallegos' leadoff bunt, and paid for it dearly when Daniel Orr sent a fly ball to the left-center fence to score Gallegos. Bennett crushed a ball to center in the next at-bat, and though Linfield dodged a bullet when it tapped the top of the fence and bounced back into Lindell's waiting glove, the play allowed Orr to score from second and tie the score for a second time at 4-4.
Johansen and Davidson retired the Linfield side in the bottom halves of the fifth and sixth, respectively, and Justin Davis (Jr., Sherwood, Ore.) settled in after a shaky first career varsity appearance in the sixth to record a three up, three down top half of the seventh.
Linfield produced some offense in the seventh when Truex drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on Lindell's shot to center field that came up just a couple feet shy of clearing the fence. But the ‘Cats again left runners stuck on second and third with two consecutive outs to end the inning.
Back-to-back singles up the middle put Alderman and Taylor on base, and another single from pinch hitter Benjamin Liogon loaded the bags for Straka. The pinch hitter sent a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Alderman and giving Corban its first lead of the night. Mercer beat the throw to first in the next at-bat, loading the bags once again.
Cody Walker (Soph., Hood River, Ore.) took the mound and sat down designated hitter Gregg Romero for the third out, but not before a wild pitch scored Taylor and pushed Corban's advantage to two runs, 6-4.
Linfield had its chances in the final frame. Kopra nailed Wylie to put a runner on first, and pinch runner Jackson Ruckert (Jr., Albany, Ore.) advanced to second on Truex's single, third on a passed ball and scored on Lindell's groundout to second. Lawson drew a walk to put runners on the corners, but Kopra got pinch hitter Jo Carroll (Jr., Bend, Ore.) to ground out to secure the victory.
Kopra pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to earn the save, while Davis took the loss for Linfield. Lindell paced the Wildcat offense with two hits and three RBI.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield earned nine free trips to first base off six walks and three hit batters…VanDomelen and Truex each drew three walks while Fisher was nailed in the back twice…the Wildcats lost back-to-back games for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
COMING UP: Linfield plays host to St. Martins of the NCAA Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference Saturday at 11 a.m. The Saints topped Northwest Conference member Willamette 2-1 Friday afternoon.
Hits 2-for-5 with 3 RBI
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128