Concordia beats LCSC for first time in program history
LEWISTON, Idaho – Tommy Whalen’s RBI double in the top of the ninth inning broke a tie game and helped the Concordia University baseball team defeat Lewis-Clark State College for the first time in program history with a 5-4 triumph in the season opener for both teams in the Regence Blue Shield of Idaho Tournament at LCSC’s Harris Field on Friday.
LCSC entered the game with a 41-0 record against Concordia, which is from Portland, Ore., and the Warriors, who are the three-time defending NAIA national champions, hadn’t lost a season opener since 1993 when it fell to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Concordia never trailed in the game as it roughed up LCSC starting pitcher Nick Masters for six hits and three runs in just 1.1 innings. LCSC eventually rallied to tie the game, but Whalen’s late-game heroics gave the Cavaliers the victory.
Concordia picked up two runs in the top of the first inning when Ben Lanier singled and went to third on a double by Jimmy Rudig, who finished the game 4-for-4 with an RBI. JJ Berg followed with an RBI single and Whalen drove in his first run of the game on a sacrifice fly to left field.
The Warriors answered with a run in the bottom of the first when Kris Miller made his first at bat as a Warrior a memorable one. The junior transfer from San Jacinto Community College hit a solo home run to left field to make it 2-1.
Concordia scored single runs in the second and third innings to take a 4-1 lead. In the second, consecutive singles by Mike Dickman, Lanier and Rudig produced a run and ended Masters’ outing. In the third, one of two Warrior errors started the rally and a single by Cameron Baker produced the run.
In the fifth inning, the Warriors cut it to 4-2 when Josh Ashenbrenner opened with a double. With two outs, he moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on another wild pitch.
LCSC tied the game in the bottom of the seventh, again with Ashenbrenner starting the rally. This time Ashenbrenner drew a walk and Paul Martin added a bunt single. After a sacrifice bunt moved runners to second and third, Matt Allen singled to left to score both. The Warriors, however, left runners on first and third in the inning, which would be a theme for LCSC in the late innings.
In the eighth, the Warriors threatened to take the lead when a single and two walks loaded the bases with two outs. But a ground out by Miller back to the pitcher got Concordia out of the inning.
In the Cavaliers’ ninth, Rudig started the rally with a one-out single and was replaced by a pinch-runner. After a ground out moved the runner to second, Whalen hit his double to right-center field for a 5-4 lead.
LCSC appeared ready to answer when Allen started the bottom of the ninth with a single and went to second on a wild pitch. After a pop out, Pat Murray reached on a fielding error, which moved Allen to third. Kawika Emsley-Pai then walked to load the bases with one out. However, Travis Georgius struck out and Ashenbrenner popped out to the shortstop to end the game.
LCSC stranded 13 runners in the game, including eight in the final three innings.
Ashenbrenner finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored for LCSC, while Allen and Sean Halton had two hits apiece. Rudig and Whalen combined for six of Concordia’s 11 hits.
Both teams used three pitchers in the game. Concordia started Ben Rue went six innings and allowed six hits and two runs. Steven Taft picked up the win by throwing the final 1.1 innings. He gave up one hit and two walks, and struck out one.
Reliever Henry Buenrostro took the loss for LCSC. He pitched two innings and gave up two hits and one run with three strikeouts. Zach Clanton was the second LCSC pitcher and went 5.2 innings and allowed just three hits and one unearned run with four strikeouts.
Both teams resume action in the tournament on Saturday. Concordia faces Corban College at 10 a.m., while LCSC meets Patten of Oakland, Calif., at 12:30 p.m.
The five-team four-day round-robin tournament continues through Monday.