‘Cats take game one, fall to Willamette in two and three

Camille Botello, Staff writer

The Wildcats’ strong offense, including two home runs by Scott Hilpert, ‘17, and Alex Hendra-Brown, ‘18, lifted the team above the Willamette Bearcats in game one of their three game series last weekend.

Also contributing on offense with singles were Brady Rediger, ‘18, Kekoa Kaulukukui, ‘17, Ben Andrews, ‘17, Colton Robinson, ‘20, and Hilpert. “I think our team’s biggest strength is our power up and down the lineup. Anyone in the lineup, on a given day, can go off and crush the ball,” Hilpert said.

David Brosius, a freshman and McMinnville native, started at the mound for the Wildcats in game one. He had four strikeouts before he was taken out in the top of the fourth inning.

Hilpert’s two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning and Hendra-Brown’s in the bottom of the second put the Wildcats ahead of Willamette, 4-1, heading into the third inning.

A Bearcat home run in the top of the fourth scored one more for Willamette, leaving the score at 4-2.

Cal Neely, ‘18, relieved Brosius half way through the fourth inning. He had five strikeouts and only allowed one Bearcat base hit in the following five innings. “On the mound you try and just focus on one pitch at a time. Being able to forget about the mistakes or the chaos that is going on is huge for all pitchers,” Neely said.  

“We have a great pitching staff. We have multiple guys coming out of the bullpen that would be starters on other teams in our region,” Andrews said.

Linfield’s strong defense and baserunning, including one double play and three stolen bases by Kaulukukui, also contributed to their game one win. “Game one was full of high energy throughout the whole game. This really helped us to keep scoring throughout the game and play good defense,” Neely stated. “We’ve been practicing our hitting and baserunning all season so we just got to stay aggressive and trust the process,” Kaulukukui said.

The Linfield Wildcats won the first game of the series, 6-2.

A Willamette come back late in the top of the ninth inning cost Linfield game two on Saturday morning.

The ‘Cats put up two runs early in the first inning and were able to hold onto their lead until late in the game.

Cason Cunningham, ‘19, and Ethan Jones, ‘20, were on the mound for Linfield in game two. “Cason threw way too good not to get the win. EJ (Jones), came in and pitched very well. It’s a tough spot for a freshman to come in and close, but he is a gamer and a clutch guy for us out of the bullpen,” Hilpert said.

The ‘Cats had high energy in the first half of game two, but “got complacent” and didn’t keep that energy, Neely said. “We had a great chance to score multiple times and have a big inning in game two, but it just didn’t play out.” Willamette’s pitcher “threw well and was able to keep us off balance,” Hilpert stated. “This game was a heartbreaker,” he continued.

The ‘Cats lost game two, 3-4.

Willamette’s momentum from game two carried over to game three.

“Game three was like game two because again we started off with two early runs and we thought we had all the momentum. We again took those two early runs for granted and didn’t score again until we were down big,” Neely said.

“They were ready to play, and I thought after putting up two runs in the 1st we would be fine, but they were able to bounce back,” Hilpert added.

A controversial call by the umpire in the top of the fourth inning left the Wildcats and their fans upset. The call preceded two Bearcat runs.

The ‘Cats played games two and three back to back, and it’s sometimes difficult to come back and win after an early loss.

The Wildcats lost game three, 4-10, costing them the series. They play at George Fox next Saturday.