Linfield baseball wins series against Willamette

Courtesy of Linfield sports information

Trading blows on a chilly and wet Saturday afternoon at Roy Helser Field, Linfield and Willamette split a doubleheader, but the top-ranked Wildcats had the final say in a series-clinching 5-2 victory in Game 3.

Clayton Truex and Jo Carroll tallied four hits apiece for the Linfield offense, with Carroll going a perfect 3-for-3 in the Game 3 win.  Thomassen threw eight stellar innings to get the victory on the mound, improving to 3-1 on the year.

Winning its second Northwest Conference series in as many tries, Linfield improved to 12-3 overall, including 5-1 against league opponents. Willamette, meanwhile, fell to 7-8 overall and 1-4 in conference action.

In the first game, Tiras Koon's three-run homer in the top of the eighth sparked a late offensive surge for Willamette, which scored six times in the final two frames to defeat the Wildcats, 7-3, and give top-ranked Linfield its first loss in Division III action this year.

The Wildcats scored twice in the eighth to pull to within one, 4-3, before the Bearcats exploded for three more runs in the ninth, capped off with Brad Breier's two-RBI single to center field.

Starting pitchers Zach Brandon of Linfield and Peter Hoffman of Willamette kept hitters mostly in check through seven innings, surrendering six hits and one earned run apiece before yielding to their respective bullpens.

In the second game, Thomassen put the Wildcats on his back, surrendering just one earned run in an impressive eight-inning performance, and the Wildcats found some more offense to bounce back from their first conference loss.

The junior right-hander got out to a great start, retiring the side in the first before ringing up three strikeouts in the second, firing up the Wildcat dugout, which came out swinging to start their offensive half of the frame.

Truex and Lindell supplied back-to-back singles with no outs to provide a quick spark to Linfield's lineup. Miscommunication on the bases resulted in Lindell getting tagged out at second on Carroll's base hit to right, but it made little difference as consecutive singles from Ben Andrews and Laboda scored Truex and Carroll, the latter when the throw to hold the Wildcat left fielder at third was mishandled.

Working with a 3-0 lead, Linfield wasn't quite finished. A pair of RBI singles from Kekoa Kaulukukui and VanDomelen scored two more Wildcats as the top-ranked team in Division III pulled ahead by four runs.

In the fourth, Carroll drew a leadoff walk, and worked his way around the bags to home plate, stealing second and third and scoring on a passed ball, to push Linfield's advantage to 5-0.

Thomassen carried a no-hitter through four innings, stymieing the first 13 Bearcats he faced before surrendering a single to Koon and another to Wilson two batters later. Truex made the unassisted final out, however, to keep the Bearcats from threatening Linfield's sizeable lead.

Linfield hits the road next for its longest Northwest Conference series of the season, traveling to Walla Walla for a three-game set against Whitman beginning Saturday at noon.


Linfield 5, Willamette 2

Capitalizing on six defensive errors and riding the arm of All-America ace Chris Haddeland, Linfield opened the second weekend of Northwest Conference action with a 5-2 victory against Willamette on a picturesque Friday evening at Roy Helser Field. Haddeland scattered eight hits across nine innings, racking up seven strikeouts against one walk, to earn his fourth victory of the year. His only real mistake was surrendering a late home run to Ty Wyatt in the ninth, but the sophomore righty recovered well, getting the final three outs – including a strikeout that ended the game – to complete the job.

Offensively, the Wildcats (11-2, 4-0 NWC) scored twice in the first frame and cruised the rest of the night, totaling five runs off five hits. Corey VanDomelen and Clayton Truex paced the home squad with two hits apiece.

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