Linfield baseball wins national championship
Wildcats D3 national champs for the first time
By DENNIS WILSON
Special to the News-Register
APPLETON, Wis. — The Linfield Wildcats are national champions.
The Linfield baseball program used a four-run fourth inning Tuesday afternoon to earn a 4-1 victory and its first Division III national championship over Southern Maine at the NCAA Division III College World Series.
The Wildcats (42-8) had to wait before they could win their title, however. After their loss to Ithaca (N.Y.) College on Monday, there were three teams left in the tournament with one loss. Ithaca and Southern Maine battled for the other spot in the national championship game, and Southern Maine ended up winning in 13 innings to eliminate the Bombers and move on.
Southern Maine got an outstanding day of pitching from Andrew Richards. The sophomore threw 12 innings of relief in the game against Ithaca, got an hour of rest, and started vs. Linfield and went 3 1/3 innings.
“First of all I just want to say congratulations to Southern Maine,” Wildcats coach Scott Brosius said. “That is a great tournament from a great team and a phenomenal effort. I tell you, I have never seen a pitching performance like we saw. We saw a lot of good things on our end as well, but I wanted to congratulate them on their season.”
When they were finally able to get on the field, the Wildcats were given another outstanding pitching performance from sophomore Chris Haddeland. The Division III Pitcher of the Year and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Pitcher, Haddeland threw a complete game for the win, scattering eight hits while giving up just one run. He struck out five and walked three.
Haddeland started the game a little rocky, as the Huskies jumped on him early. Sam Dexter and John Carey started the game with a double and a single respectively, and Dexter scored on a wild pitch. Haddeland also issued a walk to Tucker White but settled down after that to sit down nine batters in a row.
“They are going to hit, they are a good team, and they are in the championship game,” Haddeland said. “I left a couple balls up at the beginning. The first hit, the double, was a fastball up so I just need to focus on getting the ball down and executing my pitches. You know, doing all the fundamental things right.”
Southern Maine threatened just one more time, getting a runner to third base in the fourth. It didn’t get anyone to second the rest of the game.
The Wildcats did all of their damage in the fourth inning. Nick Fisher started the inning with a double, and after Jake Wylie flew out to the first baseman, Kramer Lindell and Clayton Truex stroked singles, with Truex driving in Fisher. Jordan Harlow walked, and Kyle Chamberlain executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to bring home another run. Michael Hopp was hit by a pitch to round out the scoring and put the game away.
It is the first championship for Linfield in the NCAA. Their previous two titles were NAIA titles (1966 and 1971). It is the school’s ninth national title in a team sport, and the first since the softball team’s 2011 run to the title.
The Wildcats were scheduled to get back into McMinnville at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, and the team will host a celebration with fans at Roy Helser Field at 4 p.m. Friday, the school anounced late Tuesday night.