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Linfield Athletics | April 5, 2014

No. 1 Linfield sweeps Pacific Lutheran for 11th consecutive victory

  Zach Brandon recorded five strikeouts against zero walks to improve to 22-3 in four seasons.

McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- A five-hit shutout and five-RBI performance by Linfield's two returning All-Americans sparked the top-ranked Wildcats to an impressive doubleheader sweep of Northwest Conference foe Pacific Lutheran, 3-0 and 7-1, on a wet Saturday afternoon.

Chris Haddeland hurled complete-game shutout in Game 1 and Jake Wylie smacked three home runs, including two in Game 2, to pace the Wildcats, who ran their record to 23-3 overall, including 15-1 against league opponents.

Alec Beal went 4-for-8 for the 16-11 Lutes, who slipped from second to fourth place in the NWC team standings with an 8-5 conference record. 

GAME 1: Linfield 3, Pacific Lutheran 0
Haddeland threw a 114-pitch shutout, scattering just five hits across nine innings, to earn his third complete-game victory of the season. Linfield's ace outdueled PLU's Travor Lubking, who held the edge in strikeouts (nine to five) but surrendered six hits and all three runs to the Wildcats.

Save for Ben Welch's single in Pacific Lutheran's half of the first inning, both Lubking and Haddeland got out to great starts, matching one another with three up, three down innings in the bottom of the first and top of the second, respectively.

But Clayton Truex shook Lubking's confidence with a single to left field, prompting a short mound conference. Sensing blood, Wylie attacked the next pitch, sending it over the left-field fence that amounted to a quick 2-0 lead for the home team.

From power to small ball, Linfield tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth to expand their advantage to 3-0. Wylie drew a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Kramer Lindell, but was tagged out on a fielder's choice at third. It made no matter, however, because successive singles from Chance Laboda and Kenny Johnson plated Jo Carroll for the third Wildcat run of the day.

Haddeland was steady all afternoon as he and the Linfield defense calmly worked their way out of the few jams they found themselves in. Lindell sprinted about the third of the width of the outfield to make a diving grab on a fly ball in the first, Haddeland sparked an inning-ending double play in the fifth and the infield easily handled 14 grounders without committing a single error.

Kory Vanderstaay and Alec Beal provided some offensive life for the Lutes with back-to-back singles in the second, but a routine grounder to second erased the threat. Tanner Bogart tried to spark a late rally with a hard-hit ball up the middle, but only managed to make his way to third -- on a groundout and passed ball -- before the Wildcat defense recorded the third out.

During their final opportunity to rally in the ninth, the Lutes put two runners on via Collin Nilson's single and Wildung's drawn walk and had the tying run at the plate, but Eric Lawson snagged a line drive out of mid-air along the third-base line to sew up the shutout.

GAME 2: Linfield 7, Pacific Lutheran 1
Zach Brandon earned his 22nd career victory on the mound, Wylie added home runs No. 12 and 13 to his career total and the Wildcats extended their winning streak to 12 games with the Game 2 victory.

Wylie picked up right where he left off, drilling a double to the left-field corner wall to lead off the second. Lutes starter Chris Bishop sprinted off the mound to make a diving catch on Lindell's sacrifice attempt, so Wylie had to wait to advance to third on Carroll's fly to right.

It looked like Linfield's starting catcher would be marooned on the far corner when Nate McClellan sent a grounder up the middle, but the throw to first came in at first baseman Wildung's ankles, and the Wildcats' speedy designated hitter made his way to second as Wylie trotted the final 90 feet to home plate.

Linfield scored in a multitude of ways in the fourth, from Wylie's second home run of the day to a run snuck in during a game of pickle between first and second base. Wylie blasted a solo shot over the left-field wall -- in nearly the exact same place as his Game 1 homer -- to get the Wildcat offensive wheels churning again. 

Lindell, Carroll and McClellan followed up with three consecutive singles, Carroll snaking around Bishop's attempted tag out along the first-base line and McClellan plating Lindell. Johnson singled to load the bases, and when Linfield's lineup turned over yet again, Corey VanDomelen beat out a double play to first as Carroll trekked home. With Lawson at the plate, VanDomelen attempted to steal second, and in the ensuing rundown, McClellan completed his trip around the bases to give the Wildcats a 5-0 advantage.

Pitching with a sizeable lead, Brandon rolled through Linfield's defensive half of the fifth inning with three consecutive outs. His rest in the dugout was short, however, as Bishop responded by retiring Linfield's middle of the order in the bottom half of the frame.

Nicholas Hall dropped a bloop single into shallow center, and advanced to second when Vanderstaay's grounder was elusive enough to trip up Johnson's plan to turn a bases-clearing double play. Hall made his way home on Beal's single and Welch's fly out, giving the Lutes their first score against the tough Linfield defense, which flexed its muscles again when Carroll laid out for a flyout for the final out in the sixth.

Brandon got out of trouble in the seventh, making a bare-handed grab and tossing to first for the third out of a potentially dangerous inning in which he surrendered a single to Wildung and a double to Daniel Altchech.

After Brandon wrapped up his afternoon, Zach Manley took the mound to start the eighth. The senior worked his way back from a 3-0 count to strike out Vanderstaay, and after Beal singled down the left-field line, the Wildcat defense turned a double play, needing just three more outs for the doubleheader sweep. 

Wylie gave the ‘Cats even more breathing room in the eighth, sending a third ball over the left-field wall to score two runs after Truex drew a leadoff walk.

Garett Speyer yielded a single to Nilson, but otherwise was untouchable in the ninth, forcing the Lutes into a pair of popouts and a groundout to prevent any last-gasp comeback attempt.