Warriors take two from UBC in NAIA showdown
LEWISTON, Idaho – It was a beautiful day with two of the best teams in the nation competing pitch for pitch and swing for swing in a doubleheader on Saturday at Harris Field. In the end, in a matchup featuring teams with the second and third highest winning percentages in the NAIA, the Lewis-Clark State College baseball team added two losses to the University of British Columbia’s impressive record. The Warriors, ranked No. 6 in the NAIA’s preseason poll, topped the 13th-ranked Thunderbirds 8-7 in the opener and then won 8-1 in game two.
Brian Burke and Pat Murray played a big part in the Warriors’ offensive success on Saturday, while the performances of pitchers Tyrell Poggemeyer and Stephen Foster highlighted game two. Burke went 6-for-9 on the day with a home run and five runs batted in, and Murray went 5-for-6 with a homer and two RBI. Poggemeyer and Foster combined to pitch nine innings without surrendering an earned run and with 11 strikeouts.
The two wins bring the Warriors, who are now on a six-game win streak, to 23-2, while the losses snap UBC’s four-game win streak and drop its record to 20-5. The three-game series will conclude with a 12 p.m. contest on Sunday. Fans are reminded that free Warrior baseball player cards will be handed out at the game.
Two aces, both with 5-0 records, took the mound to start Saturday’s first tilt. LCSC’s Tyler Knigge struck out two and faced the minimum in the first two innings before running into trouble in the third. UBC’s Eric Brown struck out three and held the Warriors to two runs until control issues led to his demise in the fifth.
Josh Ashenbrenner put the Warriors’ on the board in the first inning by smacking a line drive home run to straight away center field, but the Thunderbirds answered with a rally in the third.
Five singles, including a timely bloop to shallow right-center, helped plate three runs for UBC in the third.
The Warriors regained the lead in the fourth thanks, in large part, to a walk and two hit batsmen early in the inning. Ashenbrenner led the inning off with a single up the middle and he was eventually pushed around the bases via the free pass and bean balls. Jake Eccles had the only other hit of the inning when he singled with the bases loaded to plate one run. LCSC’s final run of the inning, which made the score 6-3, came from a sacrifice fly to right field by Kevin Lovelace.
Down 7-5, the Thunderbirds scored two runs on two doubles and a single to tie the game in the top of the eighth. However, LCSC answered with a run in the bottom of the inning. Murray and Burke started the inning with singles, a balk advanced both the runners, and one batter later an intentional walk to Eccles loaded the bases. A fielder’s choice ground ball to the second baseman by Gino Casini scored the go-ahead run.
Henry Buenrostro then pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn the win. The senior faced five batters in the inning. He gave up a double to one and walked another, but got the other three to watch strike three sail across the plate.
Lewis-Clark State had 11 hits in the first game including two from Jason Hague, Ashenbrenner, Murray, and Burke. British Columbia had 12 hits and was led by three hits from Andrew Firth and two from Nic Lendvoy and Christian Jolley.
The second game had a lot fewer runners cross the plate and wasn’t near as close thanks to strong outings from Warrior pitchers. Poggemeyer threw the first six innings of the game and struck out six Thunderbird hitters. The only run he surrendered came in the sixth inning via a wild throw by the shortstop on a ground ball that would have ended the inning. Foster pitched the final three frames to earn the save. He struck out five and walked none.
Sheldon McDonald pitched seven innings and surrendered 11 hits and four earned runs to be tabbed with the loss.
LCSC, which outhit UBC 14-9, scored its runs in bunches in the second game. Burke hit a two-run blast to center and Murray followed with a solo home run to left center to score three runs in the fourth. Then in the eighth, the Warriors used three hits, including a two-run double by Burke, to plate four more.
With hits in both games, Murray is on a 12-game hitting streak.
The Warriors now hold a 65-11 advantage over the Thunderbirds, and a 45-7 mark against them at Harris Field. Last season the teams split 3-3.