Linfield Wins Pitchers' Duel to Start Twinbill Sweep of Willamette, 2-1 and 8-2

Semlacher Goes 3 for 3 in Opener for Bearcats

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Ryan Larson of Linfield College won a pitchers' duel with Willamette University's Brandon Simon (So., RHP, Los Angeles, CA/Pacific Hills HS) in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, March 12, helping the Wildcats take a 2-1 win over the Bearcats in Northwest Conference action. In the second game, Linfield scored five runs -- four unearned -- in the first inning on its way to an 8-2 victory.

Linfield, ranked #9 in the NCBWA/D3baseball.com Top 25, upped its record to 10-4 overall, 4-1 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 8-5 overall, 3-2 in the conference.

The teams will conclude the three-game weekend series with one game on Sunday, March 13. First pitch at John Lewis field is set for 1 p.m. (PDT)

Larson (3-0) threw a complete game to win the opener for Linfield. He allowed seven hits and one run, while striking out four batters and giving up one walk. Simon (2-1) tossed seven innings as the starter for Willamette. He struck out five batters and allowed one walk, limiting the Wildcats to two runs (one earned) and four hits.

WU reliever Ryan Smith (Jr., RHP, Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS/U. of Redlands) pitched the final two innings. He threw two scoreless innings despite giving up a leadoff hit in each stanza. He earned two strikeouts.

The combined result of the pitching in Game 1 was a low-scoring battle.

Willamette took an early 1-0 lead when Tyson Giza (So., CF, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) singled to open the bottom of the first, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tommy Kawamura (Fr., 2B, Renton, WA/Lindbergh HS) and scored on a single to right center by Doug Bloom (Sr., SS, Salem, OR/South Salem HS).

The tying run was scored by Linfield in the top of the fourth. Dustin Smith started the inning with a fly ball to left field and reached first base when T.C. Lee (Sr., LF, Lafayette, CA/Acalanes HS) dropped the ball while slipping on the wet outfield grass. Kyle Chamberlain moved Smith to third with a sacrifice bunt and Cole Bixenman drove Smith across the plate on a sacrifice fly to Lee in left field.

Linfield pulled in front 2-1 with a run in the fifth.

Robert Vaughn singled as the leadoff batter in the inning. He stole second, went to third on a wild pickoff throw one out later and scored on a single by Nate McClellan. With two outs, a walk put runners at first and second, but Simon forced a fielder's choice to get out of the inning with WU trailing by only one run.

WU put on pressure in the seventh inning, but was unable to force across the tying run. Max Stepan (Sr., C, Pueblo, CO/Pueblo County HS) singled with one out. He reached third with two outs when Tosh Semlacher (Fr., 2B, Gold River, CA/Jesuit HS) doubled down the right field line. Larson forced Michael Oliver (Jr., DH/1B, Seattle, WA/West Seattle HS) into a ground out to end the threat.

In the bottom of the ninth. Lee recorded an infield hit with one out. Stepan followed with a line drive to Jesse Boustead in left field. Sky Kelley (So., RF, Portland, OR/Jesuit HS) hit into a fielder's choice to end the game as Lee was thrown out on his way to second base.

Semlacher was 3 for 3 for Willamette in Game 1. His double was the only extra-base hit by either team. Four other Bearcats earned one hit apiece. Linfield's six hits were recorded by six players.

The first inning of the second game gave Linfield a 5-0 lead. The Wildcats sent 10 batters to plate and took advantage of three hits and two errors. Eric Evenson, who was hit by a pitch to start the game and eventually scored on a single by Bixenman, tallied the only earned run. Also scoring for Linfield during the inning were Smith, Bixenman, Allan and McClellan.

Linfield added a run in the fourth inning, as Evenson singled, went to second on a sacrifice and crossed the plate on a two-out double by designated hitter Clayton Truex. Truex advanced to third on a wild pitch, but Bixenman fouled out to end the inning.

WU cut the lead to 6-1 with a run in the sixth. Brandon Chinn (Fr., 1B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) opened the inning with a single. Giza also singled with no outs. Vaughn, the starting pitcher for Linfield, recorded a strikeout, but Bloom hit into a fielder's choice in which Chinn beat the throw to third. Lee drove in Chinn with a sacrifice fly to center field.

After Lee's sac fly, Stepan walked to load the bases, moving the tying run to the on-deck position. Vaughn registered his second strikeout of the stanza, forcing WU to strand three runners.

The Wildcats tacked on one earned run and one unearned run in the top of the seventh. WU completed the scoring in the bottom of the eighth, when Lee reached base on a fielder's choice and eventually scored on a single by Adam Reid (San Jose, CA/Lynbrook HS).

Vaughn (3-1) pitched seven innings to earn the win. He had eight strikeouts while allowing five hits and two walks. Evan Hilberg threw the last two innings for the Wildcats and added three strikeouts.

WU starter Blake Paisley (Jr., RHP, Saratoga, CA/Saratoga HS) fell to 2-1 with the loss. He had one strikeout and no walks in four innings. Only two of the six runs scored against Paisley were earned.

Bixenman was 3 for 5 with two runs and an RBI for Linfield in Game 2. McClellan went 2 for 4, scored once and drove in two runs. Kevin Coleman also went 2 for 4. The Wildcats achieved 10 hits.

Bloom led WU with a 2-for-4 performance in the second game. Lee was 1 for 3 with a run and one RBI. Willamette earned seven hits during the game.

BOX SCORES

Linfield College 2
Willamette University 1
Statistics

Linfield College 8
Willamette University 2
Statistics

Brandon Simon of WU allowed just two runs (one earned) and struck out five batters.

Brandon Simon of WU allowed just two runs (one earned) and struck out five batters.