Home runs power ’Cats in series win over no. 8 Whitworth

Joe Stuart, Staff Writer

The Linfield baseball team had a key series win over Whitworth, the first place team in the Northwest Conference, two games to one last weekend.

Whitworth’s one win was in the first game on Saturday, with the Pirates (21-6, 13-5) winning 7-4. Joe Perryman, ’16, was given the loss for the Wildcats (17-13, 9-9), after coming in in relief for Cason Cunningham, ’19.

Perryman threw three and one-third innings allowing one run off six hits and one walk while striking out three batters.

All of Linfield’s scoring came in the bottom of the third inning. A series of base hits and sacrifice flies brought in the four runs for the Wildcats, momentarily putting them in the lead, 4-2.

The lead didn’t last very long thanks to a two-run home run by Whitworth’s Garrett Hughes that tied the game.

The Pirates would break the tie in the sixth inning to put them up by one. They would score two more in the top of the ninth to give them a three run cushion and ice the game with the Wildcats not being able to rally in the bottom of the ninth.

Linfield bounced back with a vengeance in game two, winning 8-2. Despite allowing two runs in the top of the first by the Pirates, which would be their only scoring of the game, Linfield answered right back in the bottom of the first, scoring four to take an early lead.

The highlight of the four-run inning was a two-RBI double by Johnny Carroll, ’17. The base hit down the left field line bounced once before rolling to the wall, scoring Eric Lawson, ’16, from second base and Ben Andrews, ’17, all the way from the first in a dramatic play-at-the-plate.

The ’Cats kept it up in the second when power hitting came into play. After Finn McMichael walked, Lawson homered deep to right field with two outs to crack open the lead. On the next pitch, Andrews hit a solo shot to center to put Linfield up 7-2. Lawson’s homer was his third, and Andrews’ was his fifth.

Linfield would tack on one more run in the fifth, taking an 8-2 lead. Brady Rediger, ’18, would score from second off a base hit by David Mason, ’16. Mason tried to stretch his single to a double on the play, but would be called out sliding into second to end the inning.

In the top of the seventh, starting pitcher Riley Newman, ’17, would be pulled for Cal Neely, ’18.

Newman allowed only the two early runs off 10 total hits by Whitworth in game two through his six innings pitched, while walking one and striking out three.

Newman was given the win on the day, improving his record to 6-2, a team best. His six wins is tied for the most this season in the Northwest Conference.

Neely pitched extremely well in only his second relief appearance of the year. He kept the Pirates hitless through three innings while striking out five of nine batters faced. Neely was awarded the save, his first of his career.

Linfield would continue their strong play in the rubber match on Sunday, winning 5-2.

Carter Buuck, ’18, would start for the Wildcats and get the win. Buuck threw five innings, allowing two runs but only one earned off of five hits, while walking one and striking out three. Buuck’s win was his second of the year.

Whitworth got on the board early again, scoring the first run of the game in the first inning off of an error by Mason.

Linfield took the lead in the third, thanks to more power hitting, when Scott Hilpert, ’17, hit a two-run home run to put the ’Cats up. It was Hilpert’s sixth home run of the season, a team high that is also the second most in the conference.

The Pirates scored their only other run of the game in the fifth inning, when Matthew Nelson hit a solo home run to the game at two runs apiece.

The game would not stay tied for long when Mason answered right back in the first at bat of the bottom of the fifth, homering over the left field wall to give Linfield a one run lead. It was Mason’s first career home run as a Wildcat.

The power would continue in the sixth for Linfield, when Ryan Ross, ’18, hit another leadoff home run to stretch the lead to two, also the first of his career.

An RBI single by Ryan Pladson, ’18, who had come in as a pinch hitter for Rediger, to score Kekoa Kaulukukui, ’19, in the same inning padded the lead to make the final score 5-2.

Linfield closer Cody Walker, ’19, would come in for setup man Dylan Peters, ’18, in the top of the ninth.

Walker easily got the Pirates to go down one-two-three to end the series and give Linfield the win. Walker got his fourth save of the year, second most in the conference.

The series win allowed Linfield to jump from seventh to fifth in the Northwest Conference standings, and only a game back from fourth place Pacific Lutheran.

They continue their season on Wednesday with a one game series at Pacific. Then they travel to Walla Walla, Washington, to take on Whitman next weekend, before returning for the wrap up the regular season at home against George Fox on April 16 and 17.