May 29, 2010

By Bryan Rose
Special to NCAA.com

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. - Linfield College scored two or more runs in seven innings on Saturday on the way to a 25-11 rout of SUNY-Cortland in a a winner's bracket match at the NCAA Division III baseball championships.

The Hornets collected their 25 runs on 20 hits and took advantage of three Cortland errors and 14 walks.

"We swung the bats well tonight and were able to get a lead and add on," Linfield (McMinnville, Ore.) coach Scott Brosius said. "It's something we talk about all year long, the little things lead to big things. We focus on playing nine innings and winning each inning."

Cortland got on the board first thanks to catcher Anderson Gardner's solo home run with two out in the opening frame. Gardner later added a two-run homer and finished the game going 2-for-2 with three RBI and four runs scored. He also reached on a walk and was hit by a pitch twice in the game.

"Anderson Gardner is simply one of the best players in the country," Red Dragons' coach Joe Brown said. "Truly, he is an amazing young man."

But it was Linfield's offense that stole the show. The Wildcats scored three runs in the second inning to take the lead and, after Cortland tied the game on Gardner's second home run, Linfield's Mitch Webb hit a three-run shot that put the Red Dragons up for good.

Linfield punctuated the game with an eight-run seventh inning that erased any thoughts of a Cortland comeback.

"We just kept trying to get good at bats," Brosius said. "We just wanted to continue to play our game."

Linfield was led offensively by Kelson Brown who went 4-for-7 with five RBI. Tyson Smith added a 2-for-3 performance and collected three walks to get on base five times. He also had two stolen bases.

For Cortland, Steve Nickel added a home run to go with Garnder's two blasts. Nickel went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored.

Garrett Dorn earned the win, allowing six earned runs on nine hits through seven innings. He struck out five and walked one.

Cortland's Mike Assmann suffered the loss. He pitched three innings and gave up six runs on six hits. The Red Dragons used six pitchers in the contest. Cortland catcher Billy Ribeiro was ejected from the game in the seventh for arguing balls and strikes.

The win gives Linfield its second win of the championship in which they have outscored their opponents 37 to 11.

Brosius said his team will not take any opponent lightly.

"We know there is a lot of good teams in this tournament," he said. "And we need to get a lot more wins to get where we want to be. Nobody is looking ahead.

Linfield meets either Heidelberg or Illinois Wesleyan at 8 p.m. Sunday. Cortland will face John Hopkins in a 1 p.m. elimination game.

Brown said his team will shake off this loss and be ready for tomorrow's matchup.

"It's over, we're alright," he said. "We are still here. What we did yesterday put us in a position to be here. Two teams went home today and one of them was not us."

Brown said his team never quit in this game and pointed to the four runs his squad scored in the ninth.

"This team never thinks they are out of it," Brown said.