Strive as they might to be multi-dimensional, the Warriors never seem to stray too far from their fan-favored method of subduing opponents. Routs, especially those of the home run-fueled variety, are seldom separated by more than a couple of close calls.
So it was this weekend against Western Baptist. After carefully constructing a victory then sweating out another in extra innings, Lewis-Clark State capped the three-game series with a quick-strike spectacle that turned a pitchers' staredown into a runaway.
Behind four homers in a three-inning span, L-C drubbed Western Baptist 11-0 Saturday at Harris Field. In the preceding game of the afternoon doubleheader, the nation's second-ranked NAIA team prevailed 4-3 in 11 innings.
The victories over Western Baptist, counting Friday's 7-1 triumph, push L-C's record to 38-7 and its winning streak to a season-high 10 games.
And here are some additional numbers worthy of note: Saturday's second-game shutout, a combined effort from Sal Aguilar and Nate Kuhns, marked its seventh of the year while the home runs, including a sixth-inning grand slam by Brandon Morris, bumped its season total to 60.
The Warriors had three shutouts and 54 homers in all of 2003.
"Sometimes (the wins) come easy, but you can't expect all of them to," said Morris, who also homered in Saturday's first game, and now holds the team lead with 10. "You've just got to grind it out -- every game, every pitch."
As the last-place team in NAIA Region I, Western Baptist (11-19) probably made L-C toil more than most observers expected. The Salem, Ore., ballclub, also nicknamed Warriors, predominantly kept a lid on L-C's batting order with largely efficient pitching and nearly spotless defense.
"Their guys in the field made plays and most of their pitchers could throw three pitches for strikes," L-C coach Ed Cheff said. "We saw a lot of breaking balls, a lot of changeups."
In Saturday's opener, the Warriors also witnessed plenty of scoreless innings. After Morris' two-run homer to left-center field in the third, L-C was turned away in seven consecutive frames, stranding seven baserunners along the way and 12 for the game.
But after tying the game 3-all with an unearned run in the sixth, Western Baptist fared no better against reliever Ben Newton, who ultimately worked 4l innings.
Newton gave up only two hits, including an 11th-inning single that prompted Cheff to summon Nick Seely from the bullpen. With runners on first and second, Seely doused the threat by getting Chad Harms to pop up.
Although he delivered only four pitches, Seely (2-0) would get the victory as a result of what transpired in the bottom of the 11th. After singles by Tyson Dietz and Anthony Slagle, Derek Bruce was plunked by Scott Fitchett, loading the bases with one down. That brought up Jose Rodriguez, who lifted a fly to right field, sufficiently deep to score Dietz.
Aguilar (4-0) and Western Baptist starter Daniel Vander Kooi closely mirrored one another through the first four innings of the second game. But L-C got to Vander Kooi (0-1) in the fifth as, with two away and a runner on, Dietz pulled the first pitch he saw down the right-field line for his first home run of the year.
In the sixth, Rodriguez singled, Allen Balmer doubled then Tyler Best drew a five-pitch walk from Vander Kooi. Josh Gaylord came on in relief, and Morris deposited the junior right-hander's first delivery over the left-field wall for his second grand slam in eight days.
"I'm just being patient, and when I get the pitch I'm looking for I'm not missing it," said Morris, who has homered six times in the past two weeks.
In L-C's fall workouts, "he was clearly our best hitter," Cheff said of Morris, a right-handed swinger who until this month was used primarily against left-handed pitchers. "I think maybe he's getting back to that level, because he's hitting all types of pitching."
Six pitches later, Miguel Padilla bashed his second homer, a two-run shot to right-center that ended Gaylord's day.
Rodriguez belted his fourth home run, a two-run drive to left, in the seventh.
Aguilar surrendered eight hits over seven innings, walking one and striking out two, while Kuhns yielded a single while notching two strikeouts over the final two frames.
NOTES -- Junior second baseman Justin Fuller, bothered by soreness in his right shoulder, was limited to courtesy- and pinch-running duties this weekend. Cheff said Fuller, who is currently on an 18-game hitting streak, will not play Tuesday, when the Warriors travel to Ellensburg to face Central Washington, but may be used as a designated hitter in the four-game home-and-home series with Albertson that begins Thursday at Harris Field.