WALLA WALLA - A young Whitman College baseball team took its lumps as defending Northwest Conference champion Linfield slugged its way to a doubleheader sweep Saturday afternoon in Borleske Stadium.
Linfield, improving to 8-3 NWC and 11-4 on the season, won the opener 21-3 and took the nightcap 11-1. The losses dropped Whitman to 2-6 in conference and 2-18 overall.
With a cold wind blowing out to left field, the Wildcats hammered five home runs as part of a 24-hit attack in game one. Clayton Truex led the hit parade with four safeties, including his first round-tripper of the season, in six at-bats.
Linfield senior Ryan Larson tossed seven innings of four-hit ball to get the pitching victory. He fanned six and didn't walk a batter.
Whitman bunched four of its eight hits into a three-run bottom of the eighth. Sophomore Kyle Buckham singled with one out, moved to second base on a ground-out and scored on sophomore Cam Young ripped his third hit of the game into left field.
Sophomore Aaron Cohen then clubbed his third homer of the season over the left-field scoreboard.
Zach Boskovich belted his fourth home run of the season -- a two-run shot to left -- as Linfield took charge with five runs in the third inning.
Tim Wilson and Jordan Harlow also homered for the Wildcats as part of three-hit games. Nate McClellan singled, doubled and tripled in his only three at-bats. Jake Wylie made a late appearance, smacking a two-run homer in his only trip to the plate.
In game two, after Linfield tallied an unearned run in the top of the first inning for a 1-0 lead, Whitman loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the second. Sophomore Jimmy Madden was hit in the foot by a pitch, freshman Peter Valentine drilled a single through the left side and sophomore Chris Konolige reached in a slow roller up the middle.
But Linfield starter Robert Vaughn wiggled off the hook with a ground ball to short.
Freshman Will Thompson started on the hill for Whitman and collected five strike-outs through the first three innings, although the Wildcats made it 2-0 with another unearned run in the top of the third.
A porous Missionary defense opened the door for three more Linfield runs in the fourth. With one out and a runner on first, a double-play ground ball was booted, and Michael Hopp capitalized by poking a two-run double down the left-field line. Kevin Allan's RBI-bunt single made it 6-0 Wildcats.
Vaughn, also a senior, went six innings for Linfield, balancing four hits against four strike-outs. His infield also turned three double plays on his behalf.
Justin Huckins relieved for Linfield in the bottom of the seventh, and Valentine crushed his first pitch over the left-field wall for his first college home run.
Down 11-1 headed to the bottom of the ninth, Whitman again threatened sophomore Kyle Moyes, Valentine and Konolige drew walks. But Linfield's infield turned its fourth double play of the game to seal the victory.
Thompson finished with six strike-outs while surrendering six hits and six runs over six innings. Only three of his runs were earned.
Wylie doubled and tripled and scored three runs to power the Wildcat offense in game two. Kramer Lindell also had two hits, including a triple, and knocked in two runs. Hopp collected three RBI on two hits.
Valentine and Cohen had two hits apiece in the nightcap for Whitman.
The two teams return to Borleske at noon Sunday for a third and final game.
Linfield 015 230 604 - 21 24 3
Whitman 000 000 030 - 3 8 2
Larson, Nolte (8) and Chamberla, Wylie; Weeks, Hobson (6), Matherly (7) and Harned.
HR - Lin-Wilson, Boskovich 4, Wylie, Truex, Harlow. Whit-Cohen 3.
Hits - Linfield: Wilson 3, Johnson 1, Boskovich 2, Urness 2, Wylie 1, Lindell 2, McClellan 3, Truex 3, Harlow 3, Boustead 1; Whitman: Buckham 1, Young 1, Cohen 1.
Linfield 101 301 032 - 11 10 2
Whitman 000 000 100 - 1 5 5
Vaughn, Huckins (7), Thomassen (8) and Wylie; Thompson, Sutich (7), Gavin (8) and Madden.
HR - Whit-Valentine 1.
Hits - Linfield: Wilson 1, Allan 2, Boskovich 2, Fisher 1, Boustead 1, Wylie 3, Hopp 1; Whitman: Valentine 1.