Pioneers bats start hot, use solid defense to win opener in a split with Linfield

Pioneers bats start hot, use solid defense to win opener in a split with Linfield

McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- The Lewis & Clark Pioneers scored four runs in the second inning and used sturdy pitching and defense to close out a 7-1 win over the Linfield Wildcats in the opener of a relocated doubleheader on Monday afternoon.

Playing as the home team at Linfield's Del Smith Stadium, Lisa Kumasaka brought in three runs when she singled into left field and advanced to third following a throw from Linfield's Jacinda Swiger that hit a sliding runner at third base. The sequence followed Zoe Juarez's RBI single that put the Pios up 4-0.

"Both games together, they came out with so much fire and intensity," said head coach Shawna Cyrus. "I'm not sure I've ever seen our team play that way. [Linfield's] ranked, and we really had nothing to lose except go out and play hard. They set the tone pretty quickly."

Lewis & Clark has now defeated Linfield in three consecutive seasons after being swept in the season series in each of Cyrus' first five seasons as coach.

Kumasaka, Lewis & Clark's freshman centerfielder, was great defensively as well. In the fourth inning, she made a catch at the wall to steal a potential leadoff double by Linfield's Cheyenne Fletcher and ran in to catch a ball off the bat of Kaela Ingram to end the inning. Kumasaka later made a running, over-the-shoulder catch in left centerfield.

"Going and sticking my glove out and hoping for the best," said Kumasaka of those defensive moments. "[On Fletcher's at-bat,] it was hit pretty hard and I honestly thought it was over my head, but you just got to go for them."

Kaili Akimseu (1-5) earned her first career complete-game victory and her first win of the season. She allowed one run on six hits and five strikeouts.

"I had a lot of confidence in myself and a really good catcher behind the plate who knows my pitches," said Akimseu. "I have a lot of trust in her and my defense."

The Pioneers didn't commit an error in either game. The Wildcats had good starts end on key defensive plays by the Pioneers. In the third inning, Danielle Duman and Jacinda Swiger reached base with singles, but Alissa Buss hit a line drive to Tiana Rosario at third base, who threw to Katelyn Duilio at second to end the inning.

Lewis & Clark (3-15; 3-11 NWC) regrouped when needed, too. In the sixth inning, Linfield followed a single by Fletcher with another by Melanie Oord to left field. Lewis & Clark left fielder Stephanie Garcia slipped approaching the fly ball, which allowed Oord to reach safely. Still, Akimseu caught Erin Kinney's pop up to end the inning.

"Defense is everything. Pitching can be there, but if the defense is not there, it all falls apart. I feel like the defense is always there and has my back," said Akimseu.

Shelby Saylors (7-3) took the loss for the Wildcats, who were led by a 2 for 3 performance from Fletcher.

Game 2

Lewis & Clark fell behind early as Linfield scored seven runs in the first inning on the way to a 13-6 loss in game two.

Emily Allen had a first-inning grand slam and Cheyenne Fletcher finished 4 for 5 from the plate to lead Linfield. Brooke Chapman threw a complete game to improve to 7-1 this year for the Wildcats.

The Pioneers got five runs back in the bottom of the third. Three runs came on RBI singles by Lindsay Yearman, Ateisha Norton and Jenai Rojo, and two more came across during Tiana Rosario and Ashley Bolick's at-bats.

Savannah Dickson threw 120 pitches in early relief of Lewis & Clark starter Kalin Rooney. Dickson threw 6 1/3 innings and allowed four earned runs on 13 hits, as Linfield totaled 19 in the game. Dickson had four strikeouts.

"She did great, and she's been doing great," said Pios head coach Shawna Cyrus of Dickson, a freshman. "The last few outings, she's done a great job. [Linfield] had a lot of bloopers - a ton of bloopers - things just fell in. They're a good team, so you give them those little things, then they can get the big ones, so it all adds up.

The Wildcats (18-4; 7-3 NWC) totaled 19 hits.

Lewis & Clark's other run was from freshman Frankie Warden, who pinch hit and smacked her first career home run over the right-center field wall.

"I'm going to have a huge smile on my face going to bed tonight," said Cyrus. "That made my whole day. She works hard all the time. We put her in to pinch hit, and to see that, puts a big smile on my face."

Rooney (2-5) was coming off a complete-game shutout on Saturday against George Fox. She had a 2.04 earned-run average entering the game, which ranked third in the Northwest Conference.

Monday's games were part of a heavily shifted schedule in a season that has been impacted by weather frequently. Lewis & Clark was originally supposed to host Lower Columbia College on Tuesday, but had to cancel that game to make up two with Puget Sound instead. The doubleheader in Tacoma, Wash. begins at 1 p.m.

Other Northwest Conference Games - Monday

Whitworth 15, Pacific 1 (6 inn.)
Whitworth 6, Pacific 4 

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