Bearcats Defeat #1-Ranked Linfield, 7-3, in McMinnville

Baseball Moment of the Year

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

SALEM, ORE. -- It's always great to get a win against a major rival in any sport. The win gains even more value when the archrival you've defeated is ranked #1 in the nation. That was the case when Willamette University defeated Linfield College, 7-3, on March 8, 2014 in McMinnville, Ore.

The Wildcats entered the three-game Northwest Conference series holding the #1 ranking in the D3baseball.com Top 25. Linfield won the first game of the series 5-2 on March 7, but the Bearcats prevailed in the first game of a doubleheader the following day.

Willamette took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Ty Wyatt (Fr., DH, Keizer, OR/McNary HS) doubled and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Andrew Wilson (Jr., OF, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS). Linfield tied the score with a run in the seventh inning.

In the top of the eighth inning, Brandon Chinn (Sr., 1B/RF) got things started with a bunt single. Tosh Semlacher (Sr., OF, Gold River, CA/Jesuit HS) pinch-ran. With one out, Wyatt singled, moving Semlacher to second base.

Tiras Koon (Jr., 1B/C, Honolulu, HI/Iolani School) went to the plate with two outs. After three pitches, Koon trailed in the count at one ball and two strikes. He sent the fourth pitch out of the ballpark for a three-run homer, giving Willamette a 4-1 lead.

Linfield scored two runs on four hits in the bottom of the eighth, but left two runners on base as the Bearcats kept a 4-3 advantage. Nate McClellan and Chance Laboda each hit RBI singles during the inning for the Wildcats.

Willamette sealed the win with three runs in the top of the ninth. Rolenn Himuro (Jr., OF, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) singled and Devin Bales (Jr., 3B/OF, Graham, WA/Graham-Kapowsin HS/Grays Harbor College) moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt.

Tommy Kawamura (Sr., 2B/SS, Renton, WA/Lindbergh HS) and Hunter Gallant (Jr., SS/3B, Rescue, CA/Ponderosa HS) each hit infield singles, loading the bases. Himuro scored on a walk with two outs. The final two runs crossed the plate when Brad Breier (Jr., C, Torrance, CA/South HS) singled to center field.

Willamette's starting pitcher, Peter Hoffman (Jr., RHP, Hayden, ID/Lake City HS), went seven innings and recorded the win. He allowed just one run, six singles and three walks, while earning six strikeouts. Relief pitcher Jackson Watt (So., RHP, Rocklin, CA/Whitney HS) pitched the final two innings for WU to earn his second save.

Linfield won the second game of the doubleheader 5-2 and went on to win the Northwest Conference title and qualify for the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Wildcats lost just one other game in conference play as they finished 22-2 in the NWC.

Willamette used the win over Linfield to gain momentum for a 15-4 record over 19 games. The streak included 12 consecutive NWC victories with three-game sweeps of George Fox University (ranked 17th), Lewis & Clark College, Pacific University and Whitman College.

The Bearcats concluded the year at 22-17 overall for their best winning percentage since 2003. Willamette went 14-10 and tied for fourth place in the NWC.

Tiras Koon blasted a three-run home run in the eighth inning to break a 1-1 tie in Willamette's 7-3 win over Linfield.

Tiras Koon blasted a three-run home run in the eighth inning to break a 1-1 tie in Willamette's 7-3 win over Linfield.