Warriors ride one-run lead to victory against Saints
LEWISTON, Idaho – The Lewis-Clark State College baseball team dodged in and out of trouble all afternoon, but in the end the two runs it scored in the first inning were enough to bring down Saint Martin’s University 2-1 at the Guardian Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Tournament on Friday.
With the way the game started one might have thought the Warriors were going to pound their way to another lopsided victory. However, the sunny afternoon contest featured a strong outing by Saint starter Michael McIver who threw seven scoreless frames after the first inning.
The pivotal first inning for the Warriors began with a bunt single up the first base line by Jason Hague. A few pitches later, Todd Muecklisch hit a line drive triple onto the warning track in center to bring Hague home. The Warriors second run—and game winning run—was more or less a gift from the Saints.
With Muecklisch on third, Josh Ashenbrenner grounded a 2-2 pitch straight to the third baseman who fielded the ball cleanly, took a look at the runner heading for home, thought twice, and then threw the ball to first for the first out of the inning. A good throw to the plate might very well have gotten Muecklisch.
At the time, probably few in attendance would have guessed the Warriors would end up scoring only two runs, and before the game was over probably few thought the two runs would be enough to win.
With eight hits and six walks, Saint Martin’s, an NCAA D-II school, left 14 men on base, had a runner on base every inning, and had a runner in scoring position in seven different innings.
The Saints only run came in the third—and it came without the use of a hit. Andrew Elke led off with a walk, one batter later Aaron Johnson walked, Travis Jones did the same, and then, after a Warrior pitching change, Josh Grenier was hit by a pitch to force in the run. Luckily for the Warriors, a ground out to second ended the inning and left the bases loaded.
The Warriors also got out of a tight jam in the fourth. Blaine Evans led the inning off with a single up the middle. After advancing to second on a wild pitch, Evans was sent to third via a sacrifice bunt. Then with a runner on first and third with only one out, Evans was picked off by pitcher Tyler Barrett.
The Warriors used four pitchers to keep up with the pace that McIver was setting for the Saints. Kyle Cruikshank started the game and allowed only the one run in two and two-thirds innings despite walking six. Barrett came in next and pitched one scoreless inning before handing the ball over to Seth Haehl. Haehl, a right-handed sophomore, then threw four and one-third of an inning to earn the win. Haehl gave up five hits and struck out four.
Jorge Sanchez came to the mound in the ninth inning and earned the save, but—as was the trend of the game—it wasn’t without a struggle from the Saints. Sanchez gave up a bloop single to the first batter, but struck the next batter out with a fastball on the outside corner. Jones then singled to push the tying run to second base with only one out. However, Sanchez responded and squelched the comeback by getting the next batter to fly out to left and then by whiffing the final batter to end the game.
After reaching double digits in hits in every game so far this season, the Warriors were held to five hits against McIver. Hague was the only Warrior with multiple hits in the game as he went 2-for-4 to move his team-leading batting average to .591.
McIver, a 6-foot-10 left-hander, threw 103 pitches in the game and finished with no walks and two strikeouts.
The win means the Warriors are now at 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the tournament, while Saint Martin’s is 2-7 and 1-1. In the first game on Friday, Saint Martin’s bested Central Washington 10-3, and in the final game of the day Western Oregon defeated Linfield College 6-4.
The five-team four-day tournament will continue with three games on Saturday and two on Sunday. On Saturday, Linfield and Saint Martin’s play at 10 a.m., Western Oregon and LCSC are at 12:30 p.m., and Central Washington and Western Oregon will round at the day at 3 p.m.
Saint Martin’s 10, Central Washington 3
Starter Thomas DeBoer earned the win as he pitched eight innings and surrendered only two runs. He gave up eight hits and struck out three.
Thanks to four hits, including two doubles, the Saints put five runs on the board in the sixth inning to blow the game open.
The Saints had 10 hits in the game including a two hit (two doubles), three RBI day from Cody Brooks. Teammate Aaron Johnson had two doubles, two runs, and an RBI. Brett Bielec was the only Wildcat with multiple hits in the game as he smacked a solo home run in the first inning and then hit a double in the fifth.
The loss drops Central Washington to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the tournament.
Western Oregon 6, Linfield 4
Linfield struck first by scoring two runs in the second inning and two more in the third, but Western Oregon responded with five runs in the fourth.
Western Oregon used four singles and a throwing error to take the lead in the fifth, and then rode the perfect relief performance of Kirk Lind. Lind went the final four innings without surrendering a run and with five strikeouts to earn a save. Starter Brad Keitxman went five innings and gave up four runs to earn the win.
Western’s Logan Lotti had a game-high three hits. Linfield had four players with two hits and finished with 11 hits overall.
Western Oregon improves to 3-7 on the season and 1-0 in the tournament, while Linfield falls to 4-2 and 0-2.