Warriors split doubleheader; win streak ends
LEWISTON, Idaho – A ninth inning home run by Josh Jackson, which cleared left fielder Sean Halton’s glove by less than a foot (left), brought the Warriors’ 11-game winning streak to an end in the first game of a doubleheader on Thursday afternoon. The Lewis-Clark State College baseball team fell to Fresno Pacific 5-4 in the opener, but relied on relief pitcher Colby Hawk to nail down a 4-3 win in game two.
After three games between the two teams, the Warriors currently lead the LCSC-FPU series 2-1. The final game of the four-game set is scheduled for Friday at noon. The Warriors, ranked No. 6 in the NAIA, head into the final game with a 23-7 record, while the 16th-ranked Sunbirds are at 26-12.
The first game was a back-and-forth battle that ended with the tying run on third base.
Lewis-Clark State struck first with two runs in the first inning. Josh Ashenbrenner singled through the right side and Brian Ward, who finished the game with three hits and two RBI, ripped a double down the left field to put runners on second and third. The Sunbirds then decided to intentionally walk Halton to load the bases. Matt Allen was then hit by a pitch and Ben Ornelas drew a walk to give the Warriors a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the second, the Sunbirds capitalized on two walks with two singles to even the game up at 2-2. This lead was short lived, however, as Ward unloaded a towering home run to left field on the first pitch of the following inning.
With the score 3-2, Fresno gained its first lead in the fifth via a leadoff double by Andrew Douglas followed by an RBI single by Dwight Nixon, a double by Case Rigby, and a sacrifice fly from Justin Keeney to score Nixon.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Warriors evened the score at 4-4 as Ashenbrenner singled through the left side and Ward drove him home with a double to right center.
The following innings were scoreless up until the top of the ninth when Jackson muscled a 3-1 pitched over the wall in left center and just out of reach of the leaping Halton.
The Warriors attempted to mount a rally in the bottom of the inning.. Kyle Melton led the inning off with a double that bounced just shy of the warning track in left center. After a strikeout, a groundout to second base advanced Melton to third. Ward then stepped to the plate and hit the ball hard—but right at the second baseman for the final out of the game.
The second game was also a back-and-forth affair, but this time the Warriors grabbed the lead in the fourth and never let go thanks to the scoreless innings thrown by Hawk.
Hawk, a right-handed junior, pitched the final 5 2/3 innings surrendering only four hits to earn the win and improve to 2-0. He had six strikeouts and zero walks.
Helping out the pitchers was Ward who threw out two would-be-base-stealers in the second game and one in the first.
Outhit 13-9, LCSC played small ball to overcome the Sunbirds.
Two walks put runners on first and second for LCSC’s Kris Miller in the first inning. Miller, starting in his first game since suffering an elbow injury on Feb. 22, lined a single through the left side of the infield to plate LCSC’s first run. Miller finished with a game-high three hits.
In the top of the second, Fresno gained a 2-1 lead after a leadoff walk and doubles from Douglas and Tylor Pryor.
The Warriors then tied the game 2-2 in the third. Ashenbrenner led off with a walk, and advanced to second on a groundout to third base. Ben Ornelas then plated Ashenbrenner with a single through the right side.
In the top of the fourth, the Sunbirds used three hits to take the lead. Douglas started the rally with a single up the middle and was pushed around the bases by singles from Anthony Lowell and Rigby.
LCSC then responded by manufacturing two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Trent Bridges led off and was hit by a pitch. The bean ball was followed by the speedy Melton who pushed a bunt between the pitcher and first base to give LCSC runners on first and second. Martin then loaded the bases and matched Melton’s feat by bunting down the third base line for a base hit. Halton, pinch hitting, was then plunked by an 0-1 pitched to drive in the tying run, and Ashenbrenner followed with a sacrifice fly to shallow right field to drive in what would be the winning run.