Wildcats win series vs. UPS, drop first game as No. 1
Junior Jake Wylie had 13 RBIs on the weekend — including three home runs — for Linfield (20-4, 13-2), which has won at least 20 games for the past 22 seasons. Wylie’s big weekend, though, was spoiled Sunday by a stunning comeback by the Loggers (11-14, 6-6), who scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning, four runs in the top of the eighth inning and one more in the top of the ninth inning to come from behind to beat Linfield 9-7 Saturday.
“Tough, but we played well,” Wylie said. “That’s just baseball sometimes.”
“It’s really disappointing to not close that game out,” Linfield coach Scott Brosius said, “and really disappointing to have really great at bats in the last inning, but some games aren’t meant to be. We had great at bats and absolutely killed the ball but they just didn’t fall. That’s just how it goes.”
Linfield appeared to be in control of the series finale Saturday after scoring one run in the bottom of the first followed by three runs in the fifth and two in the bottom of the sixth. Wylie had an RBI single in the first inning to score senior Tim Wilson, and in the fifth, Wylie unleashed on a 3-2 pitch, hitting a home run that bounced on the railroad tracks beyond the left-center field wall.
“When I hit it, I knew it was out,” Wylie said.
After adding two more runs in the sixth to take a 6-2 lead, the Wildcats were cruising toward another conference sweep when the Loggers finally showed some life. Three consecutive hits scored two runs and Linfield’s lead was down to 6-4. The Wildcats were set down in order in the bottom of the seventh, and UPS added four more runs on a grand slam by leadoff hitter Connor Savage.
Relief pitcher Garrett Speyer had just entered the game for starter Zach Brandon prior to Savage’s at bat, and as Savage rounded the bases, Speyer stood on the mound, bent over at the waist.
“What we have to take ownership for today is we didn’t hold a lead,” Brosius said, “we didn’t pitch well the last couple of innings with a lead. We have to tidy that up but we’ve been fighting really well.”
The Loggers added a run in the top of the ninth inning to lead 9-6, but the Wildcats made it interesting in their last chance to hit. Kyle Chamberlain led off with a double, and two singles by Wilson and Corey VanDomelen loaded the bases for Wylie. Wylie ripped the second pitch he saw down the third base line, but it was right at the third baseman for the first out. Kramer Lindell the lined out to left field to score Chamberlain. Nick Fisher singled to load the bases again, but Jordan Harlow grounded out to second base to end the game.
“The whole team played well all weekend,” Wylie said. “Sometimes, you just come up short and the other team plays well one day.”
Linfield won game one Friday behind a complete-game shutout from sophomore Chris Haddeland. Haddeland allowed six hits and struck out eight batters. The Wildcats had four guys with multi-hit games, including Wylie, Harlow, Chamberlain and Nate McClellan. Wylie was 2-for-3 with six RBIs on two home runs and one walk.
The Wildcats turned around won the second game of the doubleheader Friday 7-3. Starter Aaron Thomassen wasn’t as sharp as he has been, but he earned the win to improve to 6-1 after giving up two runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Wylie was 1-for-3 with three RBIS and a walk. Wilson had three hits and scored two runs for the Wildcats.
“I’m proud of how the guys are playing,” Brosius said Sunday. “Really great effort and overall a really positive weekend.”