1996: Lewis-Clark State College Baseball NAIA World Series Championship No. 9
SIOUX CITY, Iowa --
Frankly, it was bound to be an enchanting spring. It began with Ed
Cheff standing at the precipice of a rarely achieved coaching milestone and the Warriors
eager to reclaim the distinction of being the NAIA's best.
One fulfillment seemed to lead to the other. On the last weekend of the regular season the
Warriors presented Cheff with his 1,000th victory, and three weeks later they furnished
themselves with a national championship.
Both were apt landmarks in weather-marked campaign, which began amid February snow
flurries in Lewiston and concluded in between
torrential thunderstorms at Sioux City, Iowa, on the final day of May. In this 3 1/2-month
span L-C compiled a 53-11 record, including 33 wins in its final 36 games, and 15 straight
to end the season.
The last nine in the string were indeed poignant. Encumbered only by rain delays, L-C
breezed through the Far West Region Tournament, outscoring opponents 62-14 in four games.
Then the Warriors moved on to the NAIA World Series in Sioux City, where their hitting
prowess was upstaged by monumental pitching
frugality. In their five series games the Warriors allowed just eight runs and limited
foes to an 0.80 earned run average, both national
tournament records. This punctuated the team's 2.66 ERA, the second-lowest in Cheff's 20
years at L-C.
But patience proved to be the Warriors' most valuable virtue in Siouxland, which
was tormented by seemingly incessant rain during their stay.
The series was postponed two days, interestingly enough with L-C four innings into its
second game, against Cumberland, Tenn.
The Warriors maintained their composure through the 65 1/2-hour delay, eventually beating
Cumberland 9-4, and throughout the subsequent rounds leading up to the title game.
In the final contest, against St. Ambrose, Iowa, L-C piled up 16 hits in the first
five innings and reaped a four-hit, 10-strikeout complete game from freshman right-hander
Matt Randel en route to a 9-0 victory and its ninth national title in 13 years.
The Warriors immediately got to St. Ambrose's Todd Zaehringer, who threw a two-hit shutout
in the Bees' 2-0 first-round victory over St. Mary's, Texas. They surpassed that hit total
in the first inning, but came up empty when Ethan Rodriguez was thrown out at the plate
trying to score on Troy Silva's bad-hop single.
Designated hitter Trent Kies led off the second with his third home run of the
season, a drive that bounced directly atop then over the 12-foot-wall in straight-away
center field. Allen Jackson then drilled a two-out single, moved to third on Rijo-Berger's
left-field line double
and scored on a Zaehringer wild pitch.
Three runs followed in the fourth inning, in which the catalyst was Ethan
Rodriguez's two-run double, and four more came in the fifth. Jackson began things with an
RBI single, and an ensuing double by Rijo-Berger brought Brian Nelson on in relief of
Zaehringer. Nelson, however, proceeded to issue a bases-loaded walk to Keith Habig and
surrender an RBI single to Art Baeza and a sacrifice fly to Troy Silva.