Austin, Texas - The top-ranked Linfield Baseball team scored four runs in the third inning to build an early lead and held on for an 8-3 win over Pomona-Pitzer on Thursday in the second round of the NCAA West Regionals at Concordia University's Tornado Field.
The loss eliminates Pomona-Pitzer after the Sagehens fell 4-3 in 11 innings on Wednesday to Texas-Tyler. Linfield improves to 36-6 on the year and 2-0 at the regionals, while Pomona-Pitzer ends its season at 29-16.
Sophomore third baseman E.J. Lopez (Fresno, Calif.) cut a 2-0 Linfield lead in half when he led off the bottom of the second with his first career homer over the fence in left field (home run is pictured). However, the Wildcats responded with a four-run third to move ahead 6-1. Michael Hopp had a two-run, two-out single with the bases loaded to make the score 5-1, and Tim Wilson followed by pushing a bunt single for an RBI to stretch the lead to 6-1.
Pomona-Pitzer did get a pair of RBI hits from its seniors, who were playing in their final collegiate games. Nick Gentili (Glendale, Calif.) ripped an RBI double down the right field line in the third, and Erik Munzer lined an RBI single back up the middle in the fifth, but the Sagehens were unable to put a serious dent in the Linfield lead.
The Sagehens got strong work from the bullpen, as juniors Drew Helgren (Seattle, Wash.) and Robert Weller (Irvine, Calif.) allowed just two hits and one unearned run in five innings of work combined. However, Aaron Thomassen threw seven solid innings to protect the early lead for Linfield, improving to 11-1 on the year. Sophomore shortstop Sam Fox (New York, N.Y.) was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Hopp was 3-for-5 with two RBI for Linfield.
Pomona-Pitzer loses seven seniors off this year's team, including the outfield of Gentili, Munzer and Mike Moyer (Oakland, Calif.), who all had RBIs at the regionals (Moyer had an RBI single against Texas-Tyler yesterday). The Sagehens do return its entire infield and sophomore Jake Bruml (San Mateo, Calif.), who led the team in wins as a pitcher and RBI as a hitter, including a two-run homer in his first NCAA Regionals at-bat yesterday.