Somewhere between the 18 walks and six hit batters, the 23 runs scored, the endless bottom of the fourth and the forever top of the eighth, there was some quality baseball played Monday night.
It was just hard to find.
However ugly or drawn out it might have been, Lewis-Clark State earned its 16th consecutive win of the season, crushing fellow NAIA foe British Columbia 16-7 at Harris Field.
The two teams will wrap up the two-game series today at noon.
Ironically, both L-C (44-7) and British Columbia (29-21) got quality performances from their starting pitchers -- albeit, UBC's starter Mark Roberts only went three-plus innings. It was when the bullpens took over that the game became mercilessly miserable.
"It's frustrating to watch when pitchers can't throw strikes," Thunderbird coach Terry McKaig said. "L-C has great hitters. They don't need walks and hit batters. We're just asking them to have a big inning."
But before Thunderbird relievers had problems getting the ball over the plate, UBC jumped to 2-0 lead in the first. The Warriors' Kyle Allen started the game getting two easy outs, but couldn't get out of the inning. After he surrendered a single and a walk, Brett Murray laced a two-run double to left-center.
The game then fell into a quick rhythm the next three innings. Both pitchers threw strikes and L-C showcased some nice glove work -- in the third, second baseman Justin Fuller snagged a grounder headed for center field, rotated and whipped the ball to first to nab Connor Janes.
"I thought we played great defense," Warrior coach Ed Cheff said. "Except for Fuller's throw in sixth (an errant throw to third that plated UBC's third run), we did real well in the field."
Roberts, UBC's starter who usually fills a relief role, exited the game in the fourth after giving up a walk and hitting Brandon Morris. He threw an effective 46 pitches allowing just one hit, but McKaig did not want to burn him out. The Thunderbirds just finished a three-game series sweep of Eastern Oregon, a conference opponent, and travel to intra-conference foe Concordia of Portland Thursday.
"Mark hasn't thrown much more than two innings all year," McKaig said. "He threw some of the best stuff he has all year, but we aren't going to throw him five or six innings.
"We love coming to Lewiston to play L-C, but we are in a conference race right now."
When Doug Grant replaced Roberts, UBC's trouble started. L-C scored six runs in the fourth and three in the fifth, seven of the runs coming off Grant (2-5). The big blow came from Ryan Stevenson who smashed a two-RBI single that glanced off the side of the mound and bounced into centerfield. Derek Bruce, Anthony Slagle and Allen Balmer all followed Stevenson with RBI base hits.
"We hit the ball well," Cheff said. "We got a lot of opposite field hits, but that's OK."
Allen (7-1) pitched six solid innings allowing four hits and walking two. After giving up two early runs, he showed signs of dominance.
"He would have gone longer, but we need to get the bullpen settled," said Cheff, in his 28th year at L-C. "Our bullpen situation hasn't been resolved over the last month."
Ryan Heil, who relieved Allen, walked four (three in the eighth) and gave up three runs. Nick Seely then allowed two runs in the ninth after hitting a batter and walking another.
Justin Fuller went 2-for4 to extend his hitting streak to 23 games, the fourth longest in L-C history.