’Cats get wins in final three games of season

Joe Stuart, Staff Writer

The seniors on the Linfield baseball team finished their careers on a hot streak, with the Wildcats ending the 2016 season on a three game win streak this weekend.

Six seniors played their final game in Linfield jerseys, with Finn McMichael, David Mason, Joe Perryman, Eric Lawson, Kekoa Kaulukukui and Cody Walker stepping off Roy Helser Field for the last time on Sunday.

Heavy hitting carried the Wildcats to the three victories, scoring 23 runs and hitting four home runs over the course of the weekend.

Two home runs were hit by Scott Hilpert, ’17, both on Saturday’s game against Pacific Lutheran University, and two were hit by Ryan Pladson, ’18. One of Pladson’s homers was a two-run walk off in the bottom of the 11th inning to win the game against PLU.

Pladson’s home runs were his fifth and sixth of the season. Hilpert’s were his ninth and 10th of the year, a team high and the second most in the Northwest Conference.

Hilpert’s 10 home runs this season were more than he had hit in his prior two seasons combined, and are the most hit by any Linfield player since Cole Bixenman hit 10 in 2011.

“I swing big, with everything I’ve got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can,” said Hilpert, quoting one of the greatest power-hitters of all time, Babe Ruth.

But in game one on Friday, it was supreme pitching that got Linfield the win, with Cason Cunningham, ’19 and Cal Neely, ’18 combining for a two-hit gem for the 3-0 shutout victory against George Fox University.

Cunningham pitched the first five and two-thirds innings, allowing one hit while walking three and striking out a season high nine batters. Cunningham received the win, putting his final record at 5-1 for his freshman campaign.

Cunningham’s nine strikeouts put him at 66 total Ks for the season, a NWC high.

Neely had three strikeouts through his three and one-thirds innings, giving him 50 on the season, fourth most in the NWC.

McMichael, Hilpert and Brady Rediger, ’18, each recorded an RBI against George Fox to give Cunningham and Neely run support.

Linfield’s Saturday game against PLU took two extra innings, but the ’Cats were still able to get the 6-5 victory in dramatic fashion thanks to Pladson’s two-run walk off homer.

It was not the first clutch hitting that game. In the bottom of the eighth inning, down 4-2, Lawson hit a two-run home run to score McMichael and tie the game, which would eventually for the extra innings.

Riley Newman, ’17, started the game, pitching eight innings, allowing six hits and four runs, while striking out six batters.

Dylan Peters, ’18, pitched the final three innings, allowing one run off three hits. Peters was awarded the win, his first of the season.

The final game of the season saw Linfield face George Fox again. The Wildcats won easily, dominating in a 14-5 slugfest.

Perryman started the final game of his career, throwing four innings, allowing three runs off four hits and five walks, while striking out three. Perryman got the win, and finished his final season with a 4-3 record.

Carter Buuck, ’18, and Connor Scott, ’17, threw a combined two innings as middle relievers.

Walker pitched the final three innings of the season, sitting down all nine batters he faced, three with strikeouts. Walker got his sixth save of the season, which is tied for third most in a season by a Linfield pitcher. His 11 career saves are the second most in program history.

Ben Andrews, ’17, led the offense, going two for four, scoring four runs and hitting four RBIs. Pladson also was a big contributor, going two for three with three RBIs, including a two-RBI homer in Linfield’s five-run third inning.

Linfield’s final three wins put their season record at 25-15 on the year.

The ’Cats ended the year on a five-game win streak, while winning eight out of their final 10.