LCSC rallies in the ninth to beat NNU
LEWISTON, Idaho – Todd Muecklisch (pictured above) was hit by a pitch with bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to force in the winning run to complete a wild comeback as Lewis-Clark State College baseball team scored five runs in the ninth to edge Northwest Nazarene University 8-7 in the opening game of the Guardian Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Tournament at LCSC’s Harris Field on Thursday afternoon.
After NNU scored three runs in the top of the ninth for a 7-3 lead, the Warriors used three walks, three singles and two hit batters to produce five runs and claim the wild win.
The victory lifts LCSC to 4-1 on the season, while NNU is now 6-2.
Up until the bottom of the ninth, the Warriors ran into all sorts of problems in the game. They committed an uncharacteristic five errors and had collected just five hits. LCSC also committed some mental mistakes by throwing to the wrong base and having a baserunner picked off.
“The only good thing about this one was the ninth inning offensively,” LCSC coach Ed Cheff said.
Northwest Nazarene, located in Nampa, Idaho, got the early lead when it scored in the first inning of LCSC starter Matt Stabelfeld. Sean McDonald started the rally with a one-out double and scored on a single by pitcher Jon Kelly.
LCSC picked up three runs in the fourth for a 3-1 advantage. With two outs Sean Halton cracked his first home run of the season. Vaughan Prow followed with a single and Pat Murray drew a walk. Muecklisch then smacked a two-run triple to left field.
NNU tied the game in the top of the fifth when a throwing error, a single, and a hit batter loaded the bases for a two-run single by McDonald.
The Crusaders took a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth when a throwing error and a walker set up an RBI single by Tyler Nicholson.
The score remained 4-3 until the ninth when NNU scored three times off LCSC reliever Zach Clanton, a freshman. LCSC had two errors in the inning, which allowed one run to score. Ty Windall added an RBI single, while a sacrifice fly by Keller drove in another run.
Keller also pitched a strong game for the Crusaders. The left-hander went seven innings and gave up five hits and three runs. He also walked four and struck out three.
In the LCSC ninth, Muecklisch started the inning by flying out to center. A pair of walks set up an RBI single by Kyle Melton. After Cristin Tarango flew out, Paul Martin added an RBI single. An intentional walk to Halton loaded the bases and Prow followed with a two-run single to right field to tie the game. Kris Miller then drew a walk on a 3-1 count to load the bases and Muecklisch was hit by the first pitch he saw from reliever Cory Warburton to end the game.
Clanton, the fourth pitcher for LCSC, wound up with the win to go to 1-0 on the season. Clanton pitched three innings and allowed two hits and three runs. He struck out one. Stabelfeld allowed four hits and three runs in 4.2 innings.
Prow was the only Warrior with more than one hit as he finished with two along with two RBI. Muecklisch finished with three RBI.
McDonald had two hits and two RBI for NNU, while Keller added two RBI and Nicholson two hits.
When asked what to make of LCSC’s performance, Cheff said there is still much to learn about this team. He said this is only the fifth game in a 58-game season and it would be premature to judge the team on this game, but he did allude that he would like to see more out of his seniors.
The tournament continues on Friday with three games. St. Martin’s takes on NNU at 10 a.m., and Dickinson State will make its season debut in a 12:30 p.m. contest, also against NNU. Dickinson State and LCSC then meet at 3 p.m.
Two more games will be played on both Saturday and Sunday