Linfield beats Trinity (Texas) to win Austin Region to make third finals trip
AUSTIN, Texas -- Gutsy performances are what get it done in the playoffs, and Linfield got plenty on Saturday.
Setting a single-season wins record and defeating the same top 10 club two out of three times, top-ranked Linfield (38-7) advanced to the NCAA Division III Baseball Finals for the third time in program history after scratching out 3-1 win against sixth-ranked Trinity (Texas) (40-9) in the final game played at Tornado Field.
“Difficult, grind, exciting and gut-wrenching,” are the words head coach Scott Brosius used to describe the last day of the Austin Regional, which came down to a season-on-the-line doubleheader between the Wildcats and Tigers.
After missing the previous two games due to an injury suffered in the first inning of Wednesday’s opener, Jake Wylie returned to the Linfield lineup Saturday as the team’s designated hitter. The junior delivered a game-winning RBI single in Game 11 to give the ‘Cats a 3-1 lead with nine defensive outs to record for a return trip to Appleton.
Pitching in his third game of the tournament, ace Chris Haddeland held the Tigers scoreless in the final 5.2 innings to pick up the victory, his 13th of the year. Linfield's righty pitched an incredible 16 scoreless innings in Austin, racking up 12 strikeouts against zero walks for two wins, a save and recognition as the tournament MVP.
A third regional championship in six years did not come without drama for the Wildcats, who lost a 3-2 contest to the Tigers in the noon game before bouncing back for a 3-1 win in the afternoon.
“Trinity is a very good team. We knew that we were going to be in a dogfight all day long,” Brosius said. “After a disappointing first game, when we were right there in such a close game, I just thought we did a great job of regrouping and resetting ourselves emotionally and physically to play a very strong second game.”
Wylie, Corey VanDomelen and Nick Fisher each registered two hits for the Wildcats in Game 11. Defensively, five Linfield pitchers held the Tigers to just four combined runs.