Linfield splits Saturday games, forces rubber match

Joe Stuart, Staff Writer

The Wildcats baseball team bounced back and won game two of their weekend series 4-3 on Saturday after dropping game one 9-5 to tie the series at one game apiece with the Puget Sound Loggers (2-3, 4-8).

Pitcher Cal Neely, ’18, started game one for the Linfield Wildcats (2-3, 8-5) and held the Loggers scoreless and only allowed one hit for the first three innings.

Linfield’s offense scored first, with Kekoa Kaulukuki, ’16, scoring off a sacrifice play by Scott Hilpert, ’17, in the bottom of the third.

Puget Sound answered right back the next inning, scoring three runs, thanks to a sacrifice fly by Nathan Backes and then a two RBI home run by Nickolas Alarcio, his first of the season, putting the Loggers up 3-1.

In the fifth inning, Hilpert had another sacrifice RBI, this time bringing home David Mason, ’16, and putting Finn McMichael, ’16, in scoring position. McMichael then scored to tie the game 3-3 after being brought home by an RBI single by Ben Andrews, ’17.

The Loggers finished the game on a tear, scoring in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings.

Scoring three in the seventh, Alarcio was able to score off a fielder’s choice, which was then followed by a clutch two RBI triple by James Dejesus, hitting out of the nine slot and putting his team up 6-3.

Linfield’s lone run and hit in the bottom of the seventh came when Eric Lawson, ’16, hit a solo home run to cut the score to 6-4.

Neely was pulled in the eighth inning for Dylan Peters, ’18. Neely threw seven and one-thirds innings while allowing seven runs off seven hits, while walking only one batter and striking out three. Neely was given the loss, falling to 1-2 a record in his four starts.

Linfield’s final run came in the bottom of the eighth, when Kaulukuki hit a sacrifice RBI, scoring Jake Dennis, who had come in as a pinch runner for Ryan Pladson, ’17.

Down 7-2, Linfield had to play tough defense, but a clutch double by Cal Muramaru brought home Ben Jones and Alex Sierra to put Puget Sound up an insurmountable 9-5, with Linfield unable to rally in the bottom of the ninth.

In game two, Linfield was able to avoid losing the series, which would have hurt them badly after losing last weekend’s series to Pacific Lutheran one game to two.

This time, it was Puget Sound’s turn to lead early. In the first inning, Muramura, leading off for the Loggers, scored off a sacrifice fly by Chris Zerio.

In the third inning, it was Muramura scoring again, hitting a solo home run just over the right field fence, putting Puget Sound up 2-0.

Linfield pitcher Riley Newman, ’17, who started game two, was able to settle after the third, not allowing a run and only allowing one hit for the rest of his appearance.

Newman would pitch seven innings in game two and get his third win of the year.

The ’Cats tied it up in the bottom of the third, with Brady Rediger, ’18, scoring on a wild pitch, and McMichael scoring off a RBI single by Lawson.

They were able to keep it going in the fourth, when Mason slapped an RBI single over second base, scoring Rediger and Alex Hendra-Brown, ’18.

The bats were quiet for the rest of the game with neither team scoring till the ninth inning.

In the sixth and seventh inning, Newman retired the side both times and only used five pitches both innings.

At the top of the eighth, closer Cody Walker, ’16, came in and held the Loggers in the eight, allowing one double by Zerio who was stranded,

Down 4-2, Puget Sound had clutch performances in the top of the ninth. The ninth started off rocky for Walker, hitting Backes with a pitch. After striking out Alarcio, Walker hit Sierra, advancing Backes to second.

A single from Jones, loaded the bases, and with only one out. Dejesus, who had been clutch in game one, was clutch again in game two, had a base hit, keeping the bases loaded and making the score just 4-3 after bringing home Backes.

Still in a jam, Walker was able to strike out Muramuru, after working a full count. With now two out, Walker got Layne Croney to ground to Mason at shortstop, who then tossed it Rediger at second for the final out of the day.

Walker was awarded the save, his first of the season.

The tiebreaker for the series will be played Sunday, with the first pitch at noon. Tyler Huling is expected to be the starting pitcher for the Loggers, with Cason Cunningham expected to start for the Wildcats.