Dyche, L-C ditch Zags
Copyright of The Trib
By MATT BANEY
OF THE TRIBUNE
Nine days before the NAIA World Series kicks off, the Lewis-Clark State
baseball team played the sort of game you usually see in the city league
softball ranks. The Warriors slugged 22 hits and outlasted Gonzaga 18-11
Wednesday night at Harris Field.
So was this a good or bad way for L-C to conclude its regular season?
Come their Series opener May 27, will the Warrior hitters be brimming with
confidence? Will the pitchers be doubting their stuff?
"No, no, no -- you can't make nothing out of this," said L-C coach Ed
Cheff, whose team stands at 44-7 and is ranked No. 1 in the NAIA. "It's just
one of those nights where neither team pitched really well. It would have
been a lot nicer to see a 3-2 game -- for both teams."
So this 3 1/2-hour offensive showcase will probably have little bearing
on the Warriors' pursuit of their 14th national title. But it will have a
lingering effect on two LCSC subplots.
Leadoff hitter Joey Dyche, who had seen his stratospheric average begin
to dip in recent games, went 5-for-5 against the Zags. That performance
bumped his average up 14 points, to .503 (91-for-181).
Dyche will enter the Series on target to break Chad Miltenberger's
single-season school record of .482, set in 1983. The record is something
Dyche is aware of.
"My family, they let me know -- they read the paper," said the junior
from San Dimas, Calif. "Guys around here always tease me. ... I try not to
pay attention to it, but I definitely notice it."
After getting hits in his first five at-bats, Dyche had a chance for
another piece of history in the seventh. One more hit would have given him
six, and tied Pat Mackey's single-game school record set in the 1987 Series.
But Gonzaga pitcher Brandon Blank tossed four out-of-the-zone offerings.
Dyche watched all of them, then trotted to first.
"That's cruel," Dyche said of the quasi-intentional walk. "But I don't
blame him. It doesn't hurt my feelings."
Meanwhile, the L-C pitching staff had one of its bumpier outings this
season. Even with five of its front-line pitchers -- Derrick Landavazo, Brad
Davis, Kyle Wright, Austin Weilep and Sal Aguilar -- working no more than
two innings apiece, the Bulldogs tallied 12 hits and seven walks.
Plus, 10 of their 11 runs were earned. That inflated the Warriors' staff
ERA from 2.21 to 2.37. So they will now have to make up ground in order to
break the school record of 2.30 set in 1977.
Gonzaga (28-22) set the tone for this game by scoring two runs in the
first. That rally was aided by two LCSC errors.
But the Warriors pieced together a seven-run retort in their half of the
first. The first five batters slapped hits, and Gonzaga pitcher Josh Bryant
was lifted after just one-third of an inning.
Up 10-9 in the fourth, L-C took command for good with a five-run burst.
Dyche and Ryan Stevenson drove in two runs apiece with a single and a
NOTES -- The Warriors are assured of no more than nine losses this
season. They will be just the third club in Cheff's 29 seasons to have less
than 10 setbacks. ... Third baseman Allen Balmer was removed in the sixth
inning after straining his right shoulder. Cheff said Balmer and pitcher
Chris Kissock are the primary injury concerns entering the Series. ... The
Warriors wore their seldom-seen all-white uniforms in this game. They had
returned Wednesday afternoon from their road game against Washington, so
there wasn't time to wash their usual blue tops-gray pants ensemble.