Linfield Edges Bearcats, 5-4, in 10 innings

Stepan Goes 3 for 5 with a Single, Double and Home Run

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Linfield College scored one run in the ninth inning and one run in the first extra inning, as the Wildcats rallied past Willamette University, 5-4 in 10 innings, on Monday, March 14 at John Lewis Field, in the continuation of a game suspended on Sunday.

Linfield, ranked #9 in the NCBWA/D3baseball.com Top 25, improved to 11-4 on the season, 5-1 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette dropped to 8-6 overall, 3-3 in the NWC.

The game was suspended with Linfield batting and one out in the top of the sixth inning. Willamette held a 4-3 lead when the game was stopped. Play resumed at 4:30 p.m. on Monday.

Willamette kept its one-run advantage until the top of the ninth inning.

Kevin Allan opened the ninth with a double to deep center that Tyson Giza (So., CF, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) almost caught but couldn't hold. Allan moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt. He scored when Kevin Coleman hit a hard grounder that second baseman Tommy Kawamura (Fr., Renton, WA/Lindbergh HS) misplayed with the infield pulled in.

With two outs Eric Evenson singled to right field. Coleman advanced to third and Evenson went to second on a wild pickoff attempt trying to throw out Coleman at second.

WU pitcher Parker Johnson (So., RHP, Carlsbad, CA/La Costa Canyon HS) kept the Wildcats from moving into the lead by forcing Dustin Smith into a ground out.

In the bottom of the ninth, Doug Bloom (Sr., SS, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) singled to center field with one out. T.C. Lee (Sr., LF, Lafayette, CA/Acalanes HS) flied out to right field for the second out.

Max Stepan (Sr., DH/C, Pueblo, CO/Pueblo County HS), who already had a double and a home run during the game, put together an extended at bat before flying out to the warning track in right field on the 11th pitch.

The Wildcats moved into the lead when Cole Bixenman scored from third base on an error with two outs in the top of the 10th. Clayton Truex started the inning with a double to the left field corner, but was thrown out at third on an attempted sacrifice bunt by Bixenman. Kyle Chamberlain singled to center, sending Bixenman to second.

Ryan Smith (Jr., RHP, Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS/U. of Redlands), who began pitching for WU at the start of the inning, got Allan to hit a fly ball to right field for the second out. Jesse Boustead then hit a grounder into the gap between short and third base.

Bloom grabbed the ball and threw from his knees, but missed Kawamura at second, as Bixenman rounded third and scored. Ryan Larson walked to load the bases before the inning ended when Danny Urness flied out to left center.

Willamette advanced two runners to third in the bottom of the 10th.

Sky Kelley (So., RF, Portland, OR/Jesuit HS) singled to right field to open the stanza. Tosh Semlacher (Fr., 3B, Gold River, CA/Jesuit HS) reached first and second on a throwing error by Chamberlain the catcher, while Kelley went to third on the play.

Kelley was thrown out at home after an errant pitch as the Wildcats were attempting to intentionally walk Brandon Chinn (Fr., 1B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS). Chamberlain ran down the ball and threw to pitcher Spencer Crepeaux, who barely beat Kelley with the tag at the plate.

Semlacher advanced to third on the play. Chinn received ball four and walked to first. Crepeaux ended the threat by getting Dylan Summers (Jr., C, Lake Oswego, OR/Lakeridge HS) to hit into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Chamberlain finished 3 for 5 with two runs for Linfield. Bixenman went 2 for 5 and scored twice, while Allan was 2 for 4 with a homer, two runs and an RBI. Crepeaux, who threw all five innings on Monday for the Wildcats, moved to 1-0 with the win. He allowed four hits and no runs.

Stepan led Willamette with a 3-for-5 performance, that included three-quarters of the cycle with single, double and home run. He scored one run and drove in three. Bloom, Kelly and Semlacher each went 2 for 5.

The game was close throughout, including the action on Sunday prior to the suspension of play.

Linfield took a 1-0 lead on a solo home run to left center by in the second inning. Willamette moved in front, 2-1, when Stepan doubled in a pair of runs in the bottom of the third.

The Wildcats regained the lead at 3-2 by scoring twice in the top of the fourth. Nate McCellan drove in Cole Bixenman on a ground out to tie the score. Kevin Coleman brought Kyle Chamberlain with a single up the middle.

Willamette tied the game when Semlacher singled, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chinn and scored on a two-out single by  Kawamura.

Stepan gave WU a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run to right field. It was Stepan's fifth home run of the season and 19th of his career.

Chamberlain grounded out to first base to start the top of the sixth for Linfield. Allan faced a 1-1 count when the downpour started, ultimately suspending the game.

WU starting pitcher Chris Torgerson (Sr., RHP, Sacramento, CA/Jesuit HS) pitched all 6 1/3 innings for Willamette. He struck out three batters and allowed six hits. The Wildcats' starter, Chris Mueller, went 3 2/3 innings before he was relieved by Zach Manley. Mueller registered three strikeouts and gave up six hits.

Willamette will return to action this weekend with a Northwest Conference series at George Fox University in Newberg, Ore. The teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday, March 19, starting at 12 p.m. (PDT). The Bearcats and the Bruins will conclude the series with one game on Sunday, March 20 at 1 p.m. (PDT).

BOX SCORE
Linfield College 5
Willamette University 4
10 innings
Max Stepan hit for three-quarters of the cycle and drove in three runs against the Wildcats.

Max Stepan hit for three-quarters of the cycle and drove in three runs against the Wildcats.