WALLA WALLA - With Cole Bixenman and Zach Boskovich hitting home runs in each game, the Linfield Wildcats strengthened their hold on first place in the Northwest Conference with a 17-5 and 20-0 doubleheader sweep of Whitman College Saturday afternoon at Borleske Stadium.
Linfield, improving to 7-1 in the NWC and 15-5 overall, used a pair of seven-run innings to take charge of the opener.
Whitman, now 3-5 and 3-16, struck for four runs in the bottom of fourth inning to narrow its first-game deficit to 8-4. But the Wildcats pulled away on the strength of a seven-run sixth inning.
Linfield kept the hits and runs coming in the nightcap against three Whitman freshman pitchers. Bixenman hit for the cycle and collected six RBIs as part of a 25-hit onslaught. His two-run homer in the fifth inning was his sixth of the season.
Bixenman drove home five runs in the first game. Three of those RBIs came on a second-inning round-tripper.
Boskovich drilled solo home runs in the fifth inning of both games. That boosted his season total to eight.
Most of Whitman's highlights came in its four-run fourth inning in the opener.
Jay Richards and Eric Tolleson led off that inning with singles, and Richards took third base on an Eric Korsmo fly ball to left field. Blaine Mercado reached on a fielder's choice to third as Richards beat the throw home.
Jason Sease followed with a double to right-center, scoring a second Missionary run. Two more runs were scored when Joe Rodhouse singled to the shortstop hole and Justin Weeks lifted a sacrifice fly to center.
Whitman added a final run in the bottom of the ninth on Rodhouse's second home run of the season.
Ryan Larson tossed the first six innings for Linfield, scattering six hits, to get the pitching victory.
Tyson Smith, who belted a three-run home run in the sixth, was one of eight Wildcats with two hits in game one. Robert Vaughn also had three RBIs with his two hits.
Richards, Rodhouse and Sease had two hits each for Whitman.
Game two was all Linfield. Starter Garrett Dorn got the win, going six innings while yielding two hits and four walks. Relievers Casey Cameron and Kelson Brown finished off the shutout.
Bixenman was one of three Wildcats with four hits in the nightcap. Dustin Smith and Jared Adamson also had four-hit games.
Tolleson and Patrick Stauffer had Whitman's two hits.
The two teams complete their weekend series with a single game on Sunday, starting at noon at Borleske Stadium.
Linfield 170 017 001 - 17 16 0
Whitman 000 400 001 - 5 8 3
R. Larson, George (7), Mosbrucker (9) and Webb. Tolleson, Sease (6), Grisdale (9) and Weeks.
HR - Linfield: T. Smith, Bixenman, Boskovich. Whitman: Rodhouse.
Hits - Linfield: T. Smith 2, D. Smith 2, Brown 2, Bixenman 2, Coleman 2, Boskovich 2, Vaughn 2, Evenson 2. Whitman: Richards 2, Tolleson, Sease 2, Rodhouse 2, Stauffer.
Linfield 206 430 041 - 20 25 0
Whitman 000 000 000 - 0 2 4
Dorn, Cameron (7), Brown (9) and Bixenman. Nortz, Settle (6), Weeks (9) and Korsmo.
HR - Linfield: Bixenman, Boskovich.
Hits - Linfield: T. Smith, Cederberg, D. Smith 4, Brown 3, Bixenman 4, Fenton, Coleman, Boskovich 3, Adamson 4, R. Larson 3, Vaughn 2, Evenson 2. Whitman: Tolleson, Stauffer.