Triple play, Ornelas's two HRs highlight win over Sunbirds
LEWISTON, Idaho – The Lewis-Clark State College baseball team used a well-rounded game, which included a strong pitching effort, a triple play and two home runs from Ben Ornelas, to defeat Fresno Pacific 7-1 in the first meeting between the two schools at LCSC’s Harris Field on Wednesday night.
The Warriors, ranked No. 6 in the NAIA poll, improved to 22-6 with their 11th straight win, while No. 16 Fresno Pacific had its five-game win streak snapped and fell to 25-11.
Senior Nick Masters had his longest and best outing of the season for LCSC. The senior right-hander went seven innings and allowed just five hits and one run, which came in the top of the first inning. He also struck out two and walked two.
Henry Buenrostro pitched the final two innings and allowed two hits. He also struck out three.
The Warriors turned a rare triple play – only the third turned by the Warriors during this decade. In the top of the fifth, the Sunbirds put two runners on when both Jared Coleman and Joey Norwood hit consecutive singles. Alec Mehrten followed with a grounder that LCSC shortstop Todd Muecklisch fielded, tagged Coleman as he tried to run by, and flipped to second baseman Kyle Melton for a force out. Melton’s relay throw to first was in time to get Mehrten for the rare feat. LCSC also pulled triple plays during the 2004 and ’05 seasons, both coming against Central Washington University.
At the plate, Ornelas continued his tear since becoming academically eligible to play two weeks ago. He crushed a three-run home run to right field that hit the LCSC Tennis Center, and added a solo shot to straight away center. Ornelas finished the game 3-for-4 with five RBI and two runs scored.
Along with the triple play, the Warrior defense turned in a number of outstanding plays, including a key one in the top of the first inning. After Ornelas dropped a throw to first to allow Dwight Nixon to reach base, a balk by Masters moved Nixon to second. Case Rigby then ripped a single to right field that LCSC right-fielder Kawika Emsley-Pai fielded and he threw a strike to catcher Brian Ward. Although Nixon arrived home before the throw, Ward successfully blocked the plate, caught the throw and tagged Nixon out.
Fresno Pacific eventually did pick up a run in the inning when Justin Keeney doubled to score Rigby.
The Warriors answered with three runs in the bottom of the second when Bernard Pena and Sean Halton both singled to right field. Ornelas then drilled his three-run shot to right field.
The Warriors then picked up single runs in the fifth through eighth innings. In the fifth, Todd Melton was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on s single by Josh Ashenbrenner. In the sixth, Ornelas hit his second home run of the game and third of the season.
LCSC made it 6-1 in the seventh when Emsley-Pai hit his second home run of the season, a solo shot to center field. The Warriors’ final run came in the eighth when Ornelas hit an RBI single to center.
In the 10 games he’s played in since becoming active, Ornelas is 17-of-37 for a team-high .459 average with six extra-base hits and 18 RBI.
Fresno Pacific starter Danny Mora also pitched well for the most part, allowing seven hits and six runs over seven innings. He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.
Norwood had two hits to pace Fresno Pacific.
The two teams continue their four-game series on Thursday with a 1 p.m. doubleheader. The series wraps up with a noon game on Friday.