Bloom Hits Game-Winning Double to Send Willamette Past Linfield, 6-5, in Game #2

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

McMINNVILLE, ORE. -- Doug Bloom (So., SS, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) drove in David Tufo (Sr., 3B, San Bruno, CA/Burlingame HS) from second base with a two-out RBI double in the top of the ninth inning to send Willamette University past Linfield College, 6-5, in the second game of a doubleheader at Roy Helser Field on Saturday, April 18. In the opener, Linfield tallied five runs in the first inning and went on to defeat the Bearcats, 6-1.

Willamette ended the doubleheader at 16-16 overall, 13-12 in the NWC. Linfield went to to 25-8 overall, including 20-6 in the NWC.

For Willamette, Kyle Stalker (Sr., Bellevue, WA/Sammamish HS) blasted two solo home runs, with one in each game. His first homer of the afternoon came in the top of the ninth inning of Game #1 to break up the shutout. Linfield outhit the Bearcats, 14-6, in the opener.

Stalker's second home run, his 13th of the season, was in the eighth inning of Game #2. The homer over the right field fence tied the score at 4-4. Jack McGee (Sr., RHP/3B, Hillsborough, CA/St. Ignatius HS) followed with a double. McGee advanced to third on a wild pitch and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Mitchell Rowan (Fr., RF, Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS).

Zach Boskovich of Linfield smacked a solo homer in the bottom of the inning to create a 5-5 tie. It was not immediately clear if Boskovich hit the ball off the net protecting the scoreboard or bounced it off the fence. Either way, the ball went back into play and was initially ruled a double, but was eventually changed to a home run.

Two batters later, Tyson Smith of Linfield smacked a double to right field. He tried to stretch the hit into a triple, but was tagged out by Tufo at third.

After the Bearcats surged in front in the top of the ninth, McGee went to the mound and faced just three batters to record his fourth save of the year. Colin Clark (Sr., RHP/OF, Tigard, OR/Tigard HS), who threw four innings of relief for Willamette, improved to 3-1 with the win. Garrett Dorn (3-3) pitched the ninth inning for Linfield and took the loss.

The late-game heroics by the Bearcats completed WU's comeback from a 4-0 deficit. The game was scoreless after 3 1/2 innings, but the Wildcats plated three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Cole Bixenman singled to start the rally, then scored on a double by Stew Davis. Tyson Smith hit a two-run double later in the inning.

Linfield added a run in the fifth. Eric Everson singled through the left side and Dustin Smith walked. Evenson scored when Bixenman hit into an error by Rowan in right center. Clark, pitching his first inning of relief, forced three consecutive fly outs to end the inning.

WU cut the lead to 4-3 with a trio of runs in the seventh. T.C. Lee (Sr., LF, Lafayette, CA/Acalanes HS), Rowan and Michael Rierson (Jr., Salem, OR/Sprague HS) hit consecutive singles, as Lee scored the first run.

A sacrifice bunt by Tufo moved the remaining runners to second and third. Rowan scored on a ground out by Max Stepan (So., C, Pueblo, CO/Pueblo County HS) and Rierson reached home on a single by Michael Dearborn (So., 2B/OF, Solana Beach, CA/Torrey Pines HS).

In the opener, WU starter Blake Paisley (Fr., Saratoga, CA/Saratoga HS) gave up on six hits and an error in the first inning, but allowed just one more run before leaving the game after 5 1/3 innings. David Stott (So., Gervais, OR/Gervais HS) pitched the final 2 2/3 innings and held Linfield without a hit or a run. Stott also tossed the first four innings of the second game.

Reese McCulley of Linfield pitched all nine innings in the first game and improved to 7-0. He struck out five batters and allowed four walks.

Linfield's big first inning included RBI singles by Don Bard and Tyson Smith. Another run scored on a sacrifice fly by Bixenman, one scored when Ryan Larson hit into a fielder's choice, and one scored on a balk.

Dustin Smith opened the second inning with a double for Linfield. He was picked off at second, but the Wildcats recorded three more hits during the inning to produce a run. Bixenman scored on a single by Davis.

Dearborn doubled and Bloom walked for Willamette with two outs in the third inning, but the runners were left on base. WU also stranded two runners in the fifth inning after Tufo hit a bunt single with two outs and Dearborn was hit by a pitch.

Davis finished 3 of 3 for Linfield in the opener. Bard went 3 for 4 and Dustin Smith was 2 for 4. Six different Wildcats scored during the game. Stalker's home run, Dearborn's double and Lee's 2-for-4 performance led Willamette in the Game #1.

WU outhit the Wildcats, 14-9, in the second game. Stalker was 3 for 4. Dearborn, McGee, Rowan and Rierson added two hits apiece. Six difference Beasrcats crossed the plate. Linfield was paced by Evenson, Bixenman and Tyson Smith, who all went 2 for 4.

Willamette and Linfield will complete the four-game series with a doubleheader on Sunday, April 19. First pitch at Roy Helser Field is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).

GAME #1 - BOX SCORE
Linfield College 6
Willamette University 1
GAME #2 - BOX SCORE
Willamette University 6
Linfield College 5
Doug Bloom hit a double in the ninth inning to bring home the winning run in Game #2. It was his ninth double of the season.

Doug Bloom hit a double in the ninth inning to bring home the winning run in Game #2. It was his ninth double of the season.

Jack McGee earned his fourth save of the season by closing out the second game of the doubleheader.

Jack McGee earned his fourth save of the season by closing out the second game of the doubleheader.

Kyle Stalker hit two home runs during the doubleheader.

Kyle Stalker hit two home runs during the doubleheader.