McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Pacific Lutheran had hoped to stay firmly in the race for the Northwest Conference baseball crown when it played a three-game series against Linfield, but the Lutes instead took 11-1 and 6-2 losses to the Wildcats.
Ryan Larson and Zach Manley turned in stellar pitching performances for No. 19 Linfield (19-7, 15-5 NWC), which stretched its current win streak to six games, a season high. Against Larson and Manley and two relievers, the Lutes (17-10, 9-5 NWC), who dropped from second place to fifth in the NWC standings, managed just 11 hits total in the two games.
Game 1 - Linfield 11, PLU 1
PLU (17-10, 9-5 NWC) struck first when Sammy Davis led off the game with a line drive double to center. After a sacrifice bunt, Jacob Hoffman stroked a base hit to left field, plating Davis and giving the Lutes the early 1-0 edge. With the bases loaded, Larson worked out of the jam by coaxing a ground ball for an inning-ending double play.
Linfield responded in its half of the first, plating two runs thanks to back-to-back RBI singles, and then added two more in the second to make it 4-1.
Larson, a former conference pitcher of the year, got into a groove by throwing six consecutive scoreless innings.
Linfield added a run in the fifth and six more in the sixth to put the game away.
Larson pitched seven innings on the day, allowing one run on six hits and one walk while recording six strikeouts on the way to earning his fifth win of the year.
PLU starter Collin Nilson was driven from the game after allowing five runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings of work.
The Lutes had six hits in the game, led by Hoffman with two.
Game 2 - Linfield 6, PLU 2
Zach Boskovich hit a homer and drove in four runs to help Linfield complete the doubleheader sweep.
Similar to how things transpired early in Game 1, PLU scratched out a single run in the first, helped in part by a bases-loaded walk from Manley. A strikeout and groundout ended the inning however, and Manley managed to limit the damage to a single run.
Linfield wasted no time taking the lead in its half of the frame, as Boskovich clobbered his fifth home run of the season. The three-run blast gave Manley a 3-1 cushion to work with.
The Lutes threatened in the third, putting runners on first and second with two out. But Manley recorded a strikeout to evade the inning unscathed.
Manley matched Larson's performance in Game 1 nearly pitch-for-pitch as he threw four scoreless innings after the first. The streak was snapped by a solo home run from Taylor Wattenberg in the sixth, which brought the Lutes within three runs of Linfield.
The Wildcats' offense was stymied through the middle innings, as Trevor Lubking didn't allow a run between the third and eighth.
Robert Vaughn threw three scoreless innings of relief for Linfield to earn his second save of the season. He allowed just one hit and struck out four batters in the appearance.
Manley exited after six innings, allowing two runs on four hits with eight strikeouts, and earned his third win of the season.
PLU managed just five hits, including two by Corey Moore.
- PLU -