By Myles Bridgewater-Jackman
Sports Information Student Assistant
McMINNVILLE, Ore. - The Lewis & Clark College Pioneers drop the first two games of a three game series against the defending West Region Champion, Linfield Wildcats.
In a game which Lewis & Clark outhit the No. 14 Wildcats, errors would be the Pioneers undoing as Linfield would go on to win 5-1.
Ryan Strombom (0-4) toed the rubber for Lewis & Clark, going the distance for the Pioneers, allowing only three earned runs over eight innings pitched. Strombom effectively stranded runners throughout the day, leaving 10 Wildcats on base.
The Pioneers looked to jump out of the gates in the first inning and loaded the bases on an error, single and a walk. However, before L&C could drive anyone in, Linfield starter, Chris Haddeland, set down the next two batters to retire the side.
Connor Eggleston and Nick Lockwood would reach base safely on a pair of base hits to lead off the second, but the Pioneers once again struggled to break their goose egg. Linfield retired the next three batters and moved to the bottom half of the inning with the game still scoreless.
A pair of errors, allowing Ben Andrews and Jo Carroll to reach base safely, set up an opportunity for Ryan Ross to drive in the first run of the game. On a 2-1 pitch the Linfield DH knocked a base hit up the middle, driving in Andrews. Strombom was able to maintain his composure on the mound, and bounced back to retire the next three batters via popup.
In the bottom of the third the Wildcats would score another run on a Pioneer error. Finn McMichael hit the first pitch he saw into right field for a single and moved up to second on a sacrifice. Eric Lawson would also hit a first pitch single to right, placing runners at the corners with no outs. Andrews then reached on an error, allowing McMichael to score. Linfield loaded the bases but Strombom was able to escape the jam with a fly out.
The Pioneers once again got close to breaking through in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Lockwood was hit by a pitch, Ben Beck slapped a single to right center but EJ Hand was unable to drive in Lockwood from third and popped out to end the inning.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth. After a walk and a bunt single to leadoff the inning, McMichael attempted to move the runners over on a sac bunt. Strombom fielded the ball but the throw to first pulled second baseman Tommy Massari off the bag and allowed Hilpert to score from second. VanDomelen then hit a grounder to short, bringing in Mason on the sacrifice to make the score 4-0. With runners on the corners and 1 out, Andrews hit a high fly ball to centerfield. Beck laid out for a diving grab and doubled up Lawson at first, but not before McMichael tagged up and crossed the plate for the fifth Linfield run of the game.
Things got quiet until the top half of the seventh inning. With one out, Beck collected his second hit of the day and was driven in on a hard hit RBI double to left center by Hand for the Pioneers first run of the game. Beck would finish the day 2-3.
Linfield reliever Garrett Miller completed the victory for the Wildcats, working the final two frames and retiring five of six batters faced.
The second game of the doubleheader between Lewis & Clark and Linfield featured a pitching matchup between the Pioneers' John Trupin (0-2) and Linfield starter Aaron Thomassen (3-2).
Both pitchers maintained dominance through the first three innings, keeping the game scoreless until the bottom of the fourth.
After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Trupin was one strike away from polishing off Ryan Ross and sending the game to the top of the fifth. Ross had other plans, swatting a single to left center to extend the inning. The next batter, Chance Laboda, contributed a single of his own and allowed Ross to advance to third. Brady Rediger followed suit and hit the third single of the inning, driving in Ross and placing runners at the corners once again. Laboda raced home on a passed ball to make the score 2-0. Trupin ended the inning on a flyout to prevent any more damage.
The next inning the 'Cats would tack another run to the board. With two outs, Andrews hit an RBI single to left to drive in McMichael, who reached base on catcher's interference. Trupin did well the rest of the game, completing the game and denying Linfield any more runs despite their 14 hits on the night.
The Pioneers once again broke through against Wildcats in the top of the seventh inning. Eric Hyun pinch hit for Michael Kinkenon, reaching on a fielder's choice. Hyun then advanced to second on a wild pitch. The wild pitch would be a mute point as Sean Shepherd collected a one-out walk, to give the Pioneers runners at first and second. Two batters later, Eggleston knocked in Hyun with an RBI single to make the score 3-1. Thomassen, however, would halt the Pios' two-out rally, retiring the next batter he faced on a ground out to end the inning.
The Pioneers battled to put runners in scoring position in each of the final two innings, but reliever Cody Walker scraped together the final five outs without allowing a run to complete his second save of the season.
The final matchup of the three game series between Lewis & Clark and Linfield will begin at noon, Sunday, March 8.