By Travis Cross for D3baseball.com
Garrett Dorn defeated Chapman with his first complete game of the season on Saturday.
Photo by Ashlee Carmody for D3sports.com
In a stat-driven game like baseball the story can often go untold. Sure, unranked Linfield split with No. 2 Chapman this weekend, but that doesn't tell the story of the series. It doesn't remind you why you love the game of baseball as much as this series did for me.
Game 1: Linfield 7, Chapman 2
"[This weekend] was a chance to prove how good we really are." --Ryan Larson, Linfield
Friday night's game was Ryan Larson's and anyone who tells you different should be exiled to Elba. Larson notched his fourth complete game of the season and faced just one over the minimum through five innings. He struck out five Panther players in a game that lasted only 2:35. Chapman Radio sportscaster Saul Spady timed two middle-inning pitches that took a lightning-quick 15 seconds.
"I don't think he had a three-ball count until the ninth inning," said Chapman coach Tom Tereschuk.
"I think we're very underrated," Larson said.
Game 2: Linfield 9, Chapman 3
"We feel we're just as good as any team in the nation." -- Zach Boskovich, Linfield
A six run lead felt like 20. That's the best way to describe the way Cole Bixenman made the stadium feel. Bixenman hit two home runs (9,10), the first of which is probably somewhere over Wyoming by now. Teammate Zach Boskovich added one of his own, his team-leading 13th of the season ranking him 3rd in D-III.
Linfield's starter Garrett Dorn might have thrown the quietest complete game in D-III history. With Chapman starter Travis McGee throwing 78 pitches through the first three of his six innings, Dorn quietly went about his business, silently collecting his first CG of the year.
Fans thought that Linfield threw at least three pitchers during the blowout. Nope, just Garrett Dorn.
"This weekend was a good test for ourselves," said Dorn.
Game 3: Linfield 2, Chapman 5
"We needed someone to stop them." --Tom Tereschuk, Chapman head coach
Insert Brian Rauh.
The freshman leads Chapman in wins, ERA, strikeouts, saves, and the nation in hits per nine innings (through 4/11—4.47). Rauh threw his third CG of the season striking out seven and allowing two earned runs. In the game, his groundout-to-flyout ratio was a staggering 18:1.
"We knew they had a good freshman and he was the best guy we faced all weekend," said Dorn.
But it was another freshman who saved the series for the Panthers. Down 2-1 and pressing for runs in the fifth, shortstop Tyler Surnbrock powered a game-tying, series-changing homer to left. The first of his career, the blast erased the tension from the dugout and Tereschuk had his stopper. The Panthers scored three in the next inning to go ahead for good.
"It was definitely a momentum shifter, it sparked us up again," said Surnbrock.
"I think we had a chance to win all four games," said Boskovich.
Game 4: Linfield 5, Chapman 11
"All [Tereschuk] said was, 'Keep them from scoring and we'll win you this game." --Ben Levitt, Chapman.
Listen to the guy with over 250 wins, he might know what he's talking about.
Levitt did just that, taking over the pitching duties in the 3rd inning and the game shortly thereafter. Levitt threw 6.1 innings of four-strikeout relief to earn his first win of the 2010 campaign and a series-split.
While Levitt was holding the Wildcats at bay, the Chapman offense was running wild. Joe Lehman had three hits for the second consecutive game and paced an offense that had hits and RBI's from seven of nine starters. They broke out from their series-long slump and played like the team that earned the No. 2 spot in DIII.
The box scores will tell you of the two home runs by Bixenman, but not the first class ticket the first rocket got. They'll tell you Rauh threw a complete game but not how he shouldered the pressure of Chapman's weekend with only his right arm.
Sure, Surnbrock hit a homer, but a box score will never explain the smile he tried to subdue as he bounded into the dugout.
"I ran pretty fast around the bases there," he said.
That's a moment he'll never forget, nor will I. But the box score won't tell you that.