McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Linfield College starter Robert Vaughn made the Pomona-Pitzer Colleges Sagehens cry “uncle” while his teammates exploded for seven runs in the first two innings en route to a 10-0 win Friday night here at Roy Helser Field, advancing the Wildcats to the title game of the NCAA Division III Baseball McMinnville (West) Regional.
Pomona-Pitzer (31-10), suffering its first loss in the tournament, will play Mississippi College (38-10) at 12:00 noon Saturday in an elimination game, with the winner taking on Linfield (33-11) approximately 45 minutes following the conclusion of the first game. The regional champion will advance to the NCAA Division III World Series May 28-June 1 in Appleton, Wis., and will be the first team to represent the West Region other than Chapman University since George Fox University won it all in 2004 (Linfield reached the World Series in 2008 but was the Central Region champion).
Vaughn, an All-Northwest Conference hurler as a freshman two years ago when the Wildcats went to the World Series, appeared fully recovered from the Tommy John surgery which had stalled his college career as he scattered four hits in seven shutout innings. He struck out 13, including the side in the first inning and two each in the second, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh, and walked three in raising his record to 2-1.
The Wildcats jumped on Pomona starter Leo Rosetti (6-4) for four runs in the first, taking advantage of two costly Sagehen errors that kept the inning alive. Zach Boskovich was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in Tyson Smith with the first run, Cole Bixenman and Boskovich scored on a two-out error at short, and Ryan Larson singled in Rhett Fenton for the final tally.
Linfield expanded its lead to 7-0 with a three-run second on consecutive run-scoring two-out singles by Boskovich, Fenton, and Mitch Webb. Guy Stevens relieved Rosetti after the Webb hit and shut out the Wildcats on one hit over the next 5 1/3 innings, allowing only one hit while striking out seven with a big-breaking overhand curve in that stretch, but the damage had been done.
The Wildcats finally solved Stevens and reliever William Grodzicki for three more runs in the eighth to ice the game. Tyson Smith drew a lead-off walk and scored on Dustin Smith’s double off the right-field fence, then Kelson Brown greeted Grodzicki with an RBI single to center. Boskovich later singled in Brown.
Tyson and Dustin Smith and Boskovich each had two of the Wildcats’ 10 hits, with Tyson Smith scoring three times and Boskovich knocking in three. No one had multiple hits for Pomona-Pitzer.