Upon examination of Lewis-Clark State's winning streak, which on Monday night grew to 22 games, it becomes apparent there has been very little luck involved.
True, L-C caught some breaks in the latest addition to its string of success, a 7-5 victory over Gonzaga. But these weren't exactly the evening's defining moments.
The Warriors generated those without any assistance.
Scoring the game's final three runs -- the final two through back-to-back triples -- and reaping the benefit of Nick Seely's pressure-defiant pitching, L-C reached the 50-win plateau for the 16th time in Ed Cheff's 28 years as the Warriors' coach.
On only six occasions during this streak, which dates back to April 7, has an opponent stayed within six runs of the Warriors, 50-7. Gonzaga, 24-27, is the only team to have done it twice.
"Games against good teams -- we want them close," said Seely, who worked 2l one-hit innings of final relief, dodging a heap of trouble in both the seventh and the eighth, to run his record to 5-0. "The better quality teams we face, the less likely it is we're going to blow them out."
Cheff presumably had that in mind when he set up L-C's regular season-ending stretch -- the Warriors are at Washington today and, after a night's stay in Seattle, will be back at Harris Field on Wednesday to take on Washington State.
"It's a tough turnaround, but it's going to be a good test," said Cheff, whose team is ultimately preparing for its participation in the NAIA World Series, now just 11 days away.
Gonzaga did its part. The Bulldogs jolted L-C in the second inning with a four-run outburst by way of home runs from Bobby Carlson, David Johnson and Aaron McGuinness -- all off starter Aaron Mills in a nine-pitch span.
The Zags were poised to further rattle the Warriors in the seventh, loading the bases with the help of walks (two by Derek Landavazo and one by Seely of Carlson, the first batter he faced) with one away. A sacrifice fly by Jeff Culpepper broke a 4-all tie, but Johnson's subsequent flyout minimized the damage.
Following Josh Celigoy's single with two down in the bottom of the seventh, L-C got its first bit of good fortune -- Brandon Morris' sharp grounder down the third-base line struck the bag and bounced high enough to allow him to reach on an infield single. Tyler Best followed with a double to right that knotted things at 5.
In the Gonzaga eighth, Seely walked the leadoff batter, McGuinness, on four pitches, struck out Jason Wederspahn then yielded a single to Matt Reding, which moved McGuinness to third.
L-C pitching coach Gary Picone headed for the mound to chat with Seely, apparently having forgotten he had made a visit during McGuinness' at-bat.
"It slipped my mind too; otherwise I'd have yelled at him not to go out there," said Cheff, acknowledging that the coach's second visit should have required Seely to be pulled from the game.
But before Picone crossed the baseline, he was asked by the umpires if he intended to make a pitching change. Although Picone said no, he was inexplicably allowed to visit with Seely without having to change pitchers -- despite the protests of Gonzaga coach Mark Machtolf.
Five pitches later, Seely induced Marshall Branton into a grounder that became an inning-ending double play.
Seth McCauley opened the L-C eighth with a pinch-hit triple high off the right-center field fence, then Anthony Slagle tripled down the right-field line. Derek Bruce followed with an RBI single.
Seely, who has assumed the role as L-C's closer, adhered to a more customary form in the ninth, retiring Brad Welker, Kiel Thibault and Carlson -- Gonzaga's Nos. 2, 3, and 4 batters -- in order.
Seely "had to go after some pretty good hitters, and he got the job done," Cheff said. "He stepped up to the challenge; a lot of guys did."
NOTES -- Junior left-hander Kyle Allen (7-1, 2.51 ERA) will get the pitching start for L-C tonight. ... Justin Fuller's seventh-inning single extended his school-record hitting streak to 29 games. Fuller, whose shot glanced off the glove of Wederspahn, the first baseman, was thrown out at second trying to stretch the hit into a double.