SEATTLE - Brian Ward hit a three-run home run with one out in the top of the ninth inning and Nick Masters struck out eight of the 10 batters he faced, including three straight with the bases loaded when he entered the game in the seventh inning, to help the Lewis-Clark State College baseball team defeat the University of Washington 5-2 on Tuesday night.
With the score tied at 2-2 entering the ninth inning, UW reliever Geoff Brown struck out Kyle Melton, but then walked Paul Martin and gave up a single to Josh Ashenbrenner.
Brown was then replaced by Brian Pearl and his first pitch of the game was crushed by Ward for a three-run home run to left field. It is Ward’s second home run of the season.
As impressive as that was, Masters’ performance was outstanding. The senior right-hander from Lewiston had his best performance of the season to improve to 3-2 overall.
Masters entered the game in the seventh after Dustin Willis ran into trouble with a walk and a pair of singles to load the bases with no outs. Willis then gave up and RBI single to Jake Rife that allowed the Huskies to tie the game at 2.
Masters replaced Willis and struck out UW’s No. 3-5 hitters to get out of the jam. Masters then struck out two of the four batters he faced in the eighth (he hit one while the other grounded out to end the inning) and fanned all three batters he faced in the ninth.
In all, LCSC pitchers struck out 12 in the game.
LCSC starter Tom Peale and Willis put up nearly identical numbers. Each pitched three innings and allowed four hits and one earned run with two strikeouts. The only difference was the Peale walked one while Willis walked three.
The Warriors, ranked No. 5 in the NAIA, improved to 34-11 with the win, while the Huskies had a four-game win streak snapped and fall to 18-25.
The game included a 47-minute rain delay prior to the start of the fourth inning.
Kyle Conley got the UW on the board in the first inning when he hit a two-out, solo homer to left. It was his 17th of the year and the 40th of his career. His 17 homers ties him for fifth on UW single-season record list. He is also just the third player in Husky history to hit 40 or more in a career.
The Warriors tied the game in the top of the third on back-to-back singles by Martin and Ashenbrenner, who moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by Ward. Ben Ornelas followed with an RBI single.
After the rain delay, the Warriors took a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Kawika Emsley-Pai reached on a single and moved to second on a balk. Melton hit a two-out single to score Emsley-Pai.
Ashenbrenner finished with three of LCSC’s nine hits in the game, while Ornelas added two. UW’s top three hitters in the lineup had two hits apiece and combined for six of UW’s eight hits.
The Warriors will be back on the road Friday for a four-game series against Dixie State in St. George, Utah. The two teams meet at noon in a single game on Friday, at noon in a doubleheader on Saturday, and at 11 a.m. in a single game on Sunday, which is scheduled to be the Warriors’ final road game of the season.