By News-Register staff • 

‘Cats’ season ends at regionals in Texas


TYLER, TEXAS – After a two-week lay-off, Linfield’s NWC champion baseball team (30-15) looked anything but sharp at the NCAA West Regionals. The Wildcats, eliminated from play in two games, fell 12-1 to Centenary Thursday and 11-7 to Rhodes Friday. The two losses not only end the season for the ‘Cats, but concluded the career of head coach Scott Carnahan, retiring at the end of the school year as head coach and athletic director with a record of 617-407-2. It was also the final game for Carnahan’s assistant coach, Jim Ray.

Though Linfield entered the series with pitching considered a strength, boasting a team ERA below 2.60, Centenary and Rhodes feasted on Linfield pitching, scoring 23 runs in the two games.

In the first contest, Linfield fell behind early and never recovered a combination either offensively or defensively to factor in the game.

After a scoreless first inning, Centenary made its presence felt the following frame. Arguably the best hitting team in the tournament, Centenary plated five runs off Linfield starter Riley Newman in the second, taking an early 5-0 lead

Linfield showed signs of life in the fourth, scoring its first run of the game. Alex Hendra-Brown reached on a single and scored all the way from first on a double down the third baseline by Jake Gellos.

Starting most of their offensive rallies with two outs, Linfield struggled for a clutch hit to trim the Centenary lead. The ‘Cats abandoned nine runners on base and had just two players with multiple hits.

Andrews went three for four with a double and a pair of singles to lead the Linfield offense. Rediger supplied two hits in four at bats.

From the losers’ bracket, Linfield next played the Rhodes Lynx, and although the ‘Cats began with a 1-0 lead, and played a more competitive contest, failed to hold the lead and were eliminated.

Striking first with a three-run second inning, the ‘Cats (30-15) took an early lead. Jake Gellos (Jr., Tualatin, Ore.) delivered a double down the third baseline to score Jared Evans. Joey Cassano, next at the plate, hit a single up the middle to plate Alex Hendra-Brown and Gellos.

Cason Cunningham had the start for Linfield and looked terrific early. Through three innings he allowed only one hit and no runs, but ran into trouble in the fourth, when two runs scored.

Breaking a tie at three in the sixth, Rhodes (27-19) finished the inning with an 8-3 lead.

The ‘Cats fought back with one run in the sixth and three in the seventh, but whenever Linfield would score, Rhodes appeared to have an answer.

Cunningham tossed three scoreless innings before allowing two in the fourth and one in the fifth. He threw 4 2/3 innings, yielding three runs while striking out four. Cunningham finished with the program record for strikeouts in a single season with 104. Senior Ben Andrews finished his career as the ‘Cat leader in doubles with 54.

Linfield Sports Information assisted with this story.