Wildcats split Desert Classic

Joe Stuart, Staff Writer

The Linfield baseball team went 2-2 at the Arizona Desert Classic this weekend against the University of Redlands and La Verne University.

The #14 Wildcats (6-2) started out on Friday against Redlands (2-3) with ace Cal Neely on the mound (’18).

Neely was awarded Northwest Conference Player of the Week for his performance in the opening weekend of the season, striking out 10 batters through seven innings with only three hits in a 6-1 Wildcat win over the University of Puget Sound.

Surprisingly, Neely was not able to control the Redlands Bulldogs on Friday, as Neely and Linfield lost 7-2.

On Saturday, Linfield played two in a doubleheader against the La Verne Leopards (2-2).

Linfield dominated in the first game, winning 13-3. Right-hander Riley Newman (’17) pitched seven innings and was awarded the win before being relieved by Dylan Peters (’17).

Many Linfield batters shined in that win, led by designated hitter Alex Hendra-Brown (’18). Brown recorded five hits and four RBIs. Leadoff man Finn McMichael (’16) had four hits, and Ben Andrews (’17) and Ryan Pladson (’17) each had three.

Linfield’s high scoring game featured five runs in the second inning. Two runs came off of an inside the park home run hit by Pladson that brought home Andrews, who had just doubled to send home Eric Lawson (’16).

The Wildcats were not able to keep up their winning ways in the second game, losing 5-4.

Reliever Joe Perryman (’16) was given the loss, after blowing a 4-3 lead set up for him by starter Carter Buuck (’17) and reliever Matt Strang (’16).

Linfield had gone down early 3-0, but a four run fifth inning gave them control of the game.

In the seventh inning, Perryman walked La Verne pinch hitter with the bases loaded to tie the game.

In the eighth inning, Perryman found himself in another pitcher’s jam. After walking Leopards shortstop, Woody Reyes, back to back sacrifice plays advanced Reyes to third.

Reyes then scored on a wild pitch, giving La Verne the one run lead they would need to hold on for the win.

Linfield could not rally in the bottom of the eighth or ninth innings and ended up splitting the doubleheader.

On Sunday Linfield faced Redlands in a rematch. They won in a dominant performance of both offense and defense, dismantling the Bulldogs 17-3.

Scott Hilpert (’17) had a career game, with four hits and seven RBIs. Andrews had three hits and four RBIs, and Lawson had three RBIs on two hits, including a home run, his first of the season.

Linfield’s offense got off to a hot start, thanks to a five-run second inning. A similar sequence happened in the fifth, when Linfield scored six.

Lefty Cason Cunningham (’19) recorded his first career win, allowing two runs off three hits and three walks while striking out five through five and one-third innings.

Linfield’s record now stands at 6-2, good enough for second place in the Northwest Conference.

The Wildcats are looking to stay ranked, after ending the 2015 season ranked 15th in the country, and starting out the preseason poll at number 14.

They return to the Pacific Northwest to take on Pacific Lutheran University next weekend in their first official conference game. Following that series, Linfield has their home conference opener on Feb. 27 against the University of Puget Sound.