By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

Hometown product becomes ace

It was Haddeland’s second strikeout of the game, and six pitches later he had efficiently ended the inning with another one. An hour and a half later, Haddeland walked off the mound after pitching a complete-game, six-hit shutout with the Wildcats winning 9-0.

Haddeland, a 2011 graduate of McMinnville High School, is in the middle of a breakout season for the Wildcats (20-4, 13-2). He is 6-1 and leads the Northwest Conference in wins along with his teammate, Aaron Thomassen. Haddeland is also second in the conference in ERA at 0.98.

“Every winning team has a strong pitching staff,” Linfield coach Scott Brosius said. “It’s just a necessary ingredient of being a winning team. They’ve been the backbone to this point.”

Haddeland was a standout pitcher at Mac his senior season, breaking onto the scene to be named the 2011 Pacific Conference Pitcher of the Year. He was 7-1 for the Grizzlies with a 0.23 ERA and 85 strikeouts. Mac lost in the state quarterfinals to Jesuit.

Haddeland then decided to stay close to home and play for Linfield. Last season, he started three games but mostly pitched from the bullpen. In the offseason, he made a trip that completely changed his development. Haddeland appeared in 16 games for the Swift Current Indians in Saskatchewan in the Western Major Baseball League, a collegiate summer baseball league. He was a relief pitcher and threw 28 2/3 innings with a 3.76 ERA and 38 strikeouts.

“It was definitely a learning process,” Haddeland said. “I did decently up there and I think it helped me this year.”

Haddeland was playing with guys from all levels of college baseball. On his team, there was a catcher from the University of Wisconsin, an infielder from the University of Nebraska and outfielder Cam Newell of Oregon State University.

Haddeland said because he was a bullpen pitcher for the most part in Canada the quick outings forced him to focus and work on his command.

“Last year I definitely wasn’t there command wise and the summer helped me get there this year,” he said.

Brosius said he noticed Haddeland’s improvement during the fall. He came into camp confident, Brosius said, and he battled with three other pitchers for one of Linfield’s three starting spots. The competition was a bit anticlimactic when projected No. 1 start Zach Manley went down with an arm injury, but Haddeland earned a spot to be the Wildcat’s game one starter.

“He’s been a great game one guy for us. He pitches deep into games and gives us a chance to win,” Brosius said.

More importantly, Haddeland’s ability to pitch deep into games minimizes the wear and tear on the bullpen.

“Haddy has dominant type stuff,” Brosius said. “He’s the guy when he’s on and throwing strikes with all of his pitches, he can be dominant and go deep into the game. For us in game one of a series, you’d like to see the guy go deep into the game because it takes stress off the bullpen.”

Brosius said he feels like he has three No. 1 starters that he can pitch in the first game, but it appears as if Haddeland has taken to the role as the No. 1guy. Opponents are batting .202 off of him and he’s thrown four complete games this season.

“He’s been much more focused during his bullpens,” Brosius said, “and he prepares very well and that has carried over into the field.”

As for Haddeland, he said he likes being the first guy up.

“Everybody gets a bit of butterflies before the first pitch,” he said, “but once you get the first pitch across for a strike you’re pretty much focused in and ready to set the tone for the whole weekend.”

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