Warriors go down in Inning 15
By JIM BROWITT of the Tribune
There was a little-league home run, a
scarcely seen scoring sequence and the
ejection of two Gonzaga coaches along with a
player. And all this transpired before the
The first one, that is.
"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" blared two
times over the Harris Field PA on Thursday,
a facetious statement in a contest that drug
on like a doubleheader but didn't take quite
as long to play.
This contest, the opener of the 51st
annual Banana Belt tournament, covered
nearly 4 1/2 hours and 15 innings, matching
it with the longest game in the recorded
history of Lewis-Clark State baseball.
That would be the most memorable aspect
of it from the Warrior perspective, since
Gonzaga prevailed 8-7.
L-C continued to labor with its offensive
production, scoring only once following the
sixth inning. That run, coming off D.J.
Kooken's sacrifice fly to tie the game in
the bottom of the ninth, was unearned. And
so were the Warriors' first three.
"We're not hitting well at all," said Ed
Cheff, whose team had 12 -- one less than
Gonzaga -- but only five after the sixth.
"Some guys are lacking the toughness and
confidence they need at the plate, and it's
just a struggle."
Gonzaga, meanwhile, was flush with
scoring opportunities. The Bulldogs, who
drew four walks, had three batters hit by
pitches and reaped the benefit of four L-C
errors, stranded 15 baserunners, 10 of them
in scoring position -- including four in
"We weren't very efficient. We didn't
take advantage of guys we had on (base) or
pitch counts that were in our favor,"
Gonzaga coach Mark Machtolf said. "But we
finally got a big hit."
That came from Jackson Brennan with one
away in the Zag 15th. After leadoff batter
Scott Campbell was plunked by Mike Miller
(1-1) and sacrificed to second, Brennan, who
belted a two-run homer in the second,
doubled into the right-center gap.
Nic Benton singled with two down in the
bottom of the 15th -- five of L-C's six
extra-inning baserunners reached with two
outs -- but Cory Powell, Gonzaga's fifth
pitcher, got a game-ending groundout from
L-C "made us work for it, but it was good
to get back in the win column," said
Machtolf, whose team, now 8-6, had lost its
previous four games. "That's the kind of
game that's tough to watch from a distance."
Machtolf was relegated to a removed
vantage point after being ejected in the
fifth inning. He had questioned plate umpire
Joe Stegner on a fair-ball ruling of a bunt
by Thompson down the first-base line.
Then in the seventh, Stegner threw out a
Gonzaga player and assistant coach after
calling a strike on Zag batter Ryan Wiegland.
L-C, which didn't trail until Zach
Woodward's home run to lead off the ninth
put Gonzaga up 7-6, scored twice in the
first in a preposterous manner. Following
Thompson's single, Matt Vogel pushed a
sacrifice blunt to the left side. Bobby
McEwen, the Bulldogs' starting pitcher,
fielded it then threw wildly to first.
Thompson scored before Woodward, the right
fielder, even got the ball, and the speedy
Vogel easily beat the throw to the plate.
Another McEwen error, this on an errant
pickoff attempt, led to a run in the third
that made it 3-2 L-C.
But Gonzaga squared things in the fourth,
even though it appeared the Warriors had
gotten out of the inning unscathed. With one
down, two baserunners on and Jeff Duda
having just replaced L-C starter Shannon
Wirth, Darin Holcomb smacked a drive to deep
right field. Jessie Roehl, who apparently
had trouble initially locating the fly, made
an over-the-shoulder catch just in front of
the wall and quickly rifled the ball to
first, doubling off Campbell.
But Tyson Van Winkle, who was at third,
tagged up and scored before the third out
Cheff, who discussed the sequence with
Stegner, acknowledged afterward the ruling
was correct. The only question was whether
Van Winkle had properly tagged up.
"It may not have made any difference,"
Cheff said, "but we should have appealed."
NOTES -- Two Banana Belt games are on tap
today at Harris Field. L-C will play Chicago
State at 2 p.m., followed by Gonzaga and
Washington State at approximately 4:30. ...
The Warriors' other documented 15-inning
game dating back to 1971 was a 6-5 loss to
WSU on March 1, 1986. That game,
interestingly enough, took place in Las
Vegas as part of the UNLV's Desert Classic.