By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director
McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Linfield College scored two runs in the seventh inning of the first game and earned one run in the final inning of the second game, as the Wildcats defeated Willamette University 3-2 in both halves of a Northwest Conference doubleheader on Wednesday, April 6 at Del Smith Stadium.
The Wildcats improved to 20-11 on the season, 12-8 in the NWC. Willamette dropped to 13-12 overall, 9-11 in the NWC.
Wildcats Rally in First Game
In the first game, Willamette took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but two errors by the Bearcats and three hits by Linfield allowed the Wildcats to come from behind for the win.
Kenzie Schmoll grounded out toward shortstop and Paige Smotherman popped up toward first base to begin the inning. Danielle Duman singled down the right field line. Darian Stedman hit an infield single, with pinch-runner Jessica Woodruf advancing to third on a throwing error at shortstop.
Jen Hiatt reached base when a low throw to first was trapped on the ground. Woodruff scored on the play to tie the score. Alissa Buss drove in Stedman with the winning run on a single to center field.
Willamette began the game by taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Ashley Pender (Sr., 2B, Reno, NV/North Valleys HS) belted a leadoff double to left center. Pender went to third on a ground out by Kathryn Moore (So., 3B, Reno, NV/Robert McQueen HS) and scored with two outs on a single to left by Mallory Asaro (Jr., SS, Rocklin, CA/Rocklin HS). Asaro was thrown out at second on the play.
The Wildcats tied the game in the bottom of the first with an unearned run. With one out, Buss singled to right field. After Cheyenne Fletcher struck out, Melanie Oord hit into an error in right field that allowed Buss to score, while Oord advanced to third base.
Both teams went five consecutive innings without a run, until the Bearcats moved in front in the top of the seventh.
Alex Shields (Jr., C, Lake Forest, CA/El Toro HS), who went 3 for 3 in the game, started the stanza with a double to left center. A ground out by Carrie Fox (So., OF, Dupont, WA/Steilacoom HS) sent Shields to third. With two outs, Shields scored when Kaylin Bullert (Fr., 3B, Red Bluff, CA/Enterprise HS) reached base on an error by the second baseman.
Both starting pitchers tossed complete games and both teams earned six hits. Shelby Saylors of Linfield improved to 10-2 after striking out four batters and allowing no walks. Jade Smith (Jr., RHP, Chico, CA/Chico HS) of Willamette fell to 5-8, but gave up no earned runs.
Linfield Breaks Tie in Second Game
The teams were tied at 2-2 when the second game entered the bottom of the seventh.
Emily Allen singled for the Wildcats to start the inning. Pinch-runner Maddy Colson went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Buss. Fletcher flied out, and then Oord belted a double to left center to drive in Colson.
Linfield scored the first run of the game in the second inning, and added a run in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead. Duman hit a solo home run with two outs in the second.
In the top of the third, WU filled the bases with no outs on a bunt single by Alexia Pratt (Jr., OF, Roseville, CA/Woodcreek HS), a hit batsman when Pender was plunked by a pitch, and a single by Moore. A strikeout, a pop-up and a grounder toward third forced the Bearcats to leave the bases loaded. In the bottom of the third, Allen blasted a leadoff home run.
The Bearcats put together a strong inning in the top of the fifth, scoring two runs to tie the game. Pender connected for a single to center with one out. Moore also singled to center, and then both runners advanced on a passed ball.
Danielle Saunders (So., LF, Salem, OR/McNary HS) walked, loading the bases. Asaro drove home Pender and Moore with a double to right field. Saylors replaced Linfield's starting pitcher, Maddy Dunn, and escaped the jam with a fly out and a strikeout.
Linfield loaded the bases in the sixth inning but did not score.
Saylors picked up the win by pitching 2 2/3 innings. She moved to 11-2 on the season. Willamette reliever Makayla Hari (Jr., RHP, Salem, OR/Blanchet Catholic HS) also pitched 2 2/3 innings. She dropped to 2-2 with the loss.
Linfeld outhit the Bearcats 8-6. Allen was 2 for 3 and Oord went 2 for 4. Asaro was 2 for 3 and drove in two runs for Willamette. Moore finished 2 for 4 with a run scored.
Up Next for Willamette
The Bearcats will take on George Fox University in Northwest Conference action on Saturday, April 9 and Sunday April 10 in Newberg, Oregon. The teams will play a doubleheader starting at 12 p.m. (PDT) each day.