Warriors Win 14th
National Baseball Title
Jose Castenon drew a bases-loaded walk
with two outs in the top of the 11th inning to force in
the winning run as Lewis-Clark State College claimed its
14th national baseball title by defeating Cumberland
University 5-4 in the championship game of the 50th
annual Avista NAIA World Series on Friday night.
The Warriors, who finished
Photo by John Roy
the season at
47-8, capture the title before a hometown crowd of
5,480, the largest to see a Series game in Lewiston.
That also pushed the total attendance for the Series to
more than 43,000, which is an all-time Series record.
Friday’s contest was delayed at the start
by 40 minutes because of a rain storm that hit the area
LCSC and Cumberland, which winds up
51-18, put on a show in the title game with numerous
defensive plays, power hitting and impressive pitching
late in the game. LCSC’s third pitcher, Shannon Wirth,
threw five innings of hitless ball after Cumberland
collected 12 hits in the first six innings. Wirth walked
three and struck out seven to pick up the win and finish
7-1 on the season.
After Cumberland scored a run in the
bottom of the sixth to tie the contest at 4-4, neither
team could score until the 11th. That’s when Mark
Thompson started the rally by being hit a pitch, one of
nine hit batters in the game. Matt Vogel singled
Thompson to third and then stole second base. With first
base open, Cumberland elected to intentionally walk
Series MVP Allen Balmer to load the bases. Castenon then
drew a full-count walk to force in the decisive run.
The single by Thompson was the only hit
in the final five innings by either team.
Cumberland’s Courtney Propst was hit by a
pitch to start the bottom of the 11th and moved to
second on a sacrifice bunt. After Alberto Cruz walked,
Angel Mercado struck out and Nolan McCue hit a grounder
to third, which Balmer fielded and touched the base for
the force out, sending LCSC players into a dog pile
celebration near the pitcher’s mound.
LCSC, which was ranked No. 1 in the NAIA
for the entire season, lost its opener in the 10-team
double-elimination tournament, but won five straight
do-or-die games to capture its 14th crown since 1984.
Cumberland was playing in only its second title game
after winning the Series in 2004.
Cumberland gained the upper hand early in
the game when Dorian Rojas hit a solo home run in the
first and Propst hit a solo shot in the third. Mercado
also had an RBI single in the third as Cumberland led
3-1 after three innings.
LCSC battled back with a run in the fifth
on a solo home run by Justin Fuller to lead off the
inning, while Mark Thompson’s two-run single in the top
of the sixth put LCSC ahead 4-3.
Cumberland tied the score in the bottom
of the sixth on an RBI single by Rojas.
Matt Vogel had three hits for LCSC, while
Fuller and Jessie Roehl had two apiece. Rojas had three
hits, two RBI and two runs scored for Cumberland, while
Propst and Mercado added two hits and an RBI apiece.
Cumberland starter Zach Whitmer gave up
10 hits and four runs in 5.2 innings and walked two.
Reliever Adam Tomlinson allowed only one hit during the
final 5.1 innings. Tomlinson walked three and struck out
LCSC starter Austin Weilep allowed six
hits and three runs in 2.1 innings, while Mike Miller
went 3.2 innings and gave up six hits, but just one
Both teams left 14 runners on base.
The contest was the fifth title game to
go into extra innings and the first since 1986 when
Grand Canyon defeated LCSC 6-5.