Linfield clinches NWC with walk-off double in 2-1 win against George Fox
McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- With one swing of the bat, Kramer Lindell clinched the 2013 Northwest Conference championship for the Linfield Wildcats as his 13th-inning, walk-off double that landed on the foul line in left plated Jake Wylie for a 2-1 victory against George Fox on Sunday.
After the Bruins took the lead in the second, Linfield tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI groundout by Nick Fisher. After that, neither team scored for the next nine innings until Lindell came to the plate with one out in the bottom of the 13th. Wylie was on first after drawing a walk off of Bruins reliever Alex Keenan, and Lindell roped a line drive down the left-field line into the corner.
The starters for each team matched each other nearly pitch-for-pitch, both throwing nine innings. Zach Brandon allowed one run on eight hits with no walks and a pair of strikeouts for the Wildcats, and Bruin starter Tom Zarosinski allowed one run on seven hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.
Lindell and Wylie each had three hits for the Wildcats and the latter scored both of Linfield’s runs. The sweep pushed Linfield’s record to 29-5, and its 18-3 mark in NWC play ensures an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship, at a regional site to be announced May 12.
Derek Dixon, Zac Israel and Jared Chase each had a pair of hits for the Bruins. George Fox fell to 24-12 on the season and finished NWC play in second place with a record of 17-7.
Back-to-back singles by Danny Clifford and Dixon gave the Bruins a pair of base runners in the second. A sacrifice bunt moved them over to second and third, and Israel plated the first run of the game with an RBI single to center.
Both starters cruised through the third and Wylie drew a walk with one out in the fourth. After going from first to third on a base hit by Lindell, Fisher beat out the back end of a double-play attempt, which allowed Wylie to score the tying run.
The bats went silent for both teams through the middle and late innings, as the Bruins had five base runners in the fifth through the ninth, and the Wildcats had just four in the same span.
Things got interesting in the 10th as Justin Huckins came on in relief of Brandon. After hitting the first batter of the inning, Linfield’s closer retired the next three hitters in order to preserve the 1-1 score.
Following Huckins’ lead, Keenan plunked Jordan Harlow to start the bottom of the 10th, and a pair of walks loaded the bases for Wylie with one out and the game-winning run just 90 feet away. The NWC RBI leader hit a soft ground ball to short and was doubled up at first to end the inning.
The 11th and 12th were nearly identical to the 10th for the Bruins offensively, as the leadoff hitter reached, was sacrificed to second and then left stranded there by the next two hitters.
George Fox managed to get a pair of base runners in the top of the 13th as Josh Rapacz singled and Clifford walked with two outs, but a pop-up ended the frame.
The Wildcats finally got to Keenan in the bottom of the inning, as Wylie walked and Lindell sent Linfield home happy with the championship-clinching hit.