Two wins lift Warriors to best start ever
SALEM, Ore. – With two wins over Willamette University on Saturday the Lewis-Clark State College baseball team is off to its best start in school history. Playing a doubleheader, the Warriors defeated Willamette 5-2 in game one before pounding the Bearcats 15-0 in game two.
The Warriors, riding a 13-game win streak, now stand at 30-2 overall which surpasses the 29-2 record compiled by the 2008 national championship squad. The 2008 team finished the season at 58-7 en route to LCSC’s 16th and most recent NAIA World Series title.
Three solo home runs and solid pitching helped the Warriors handle Willamette in game one, while a barrage of offense early on sealed the fate of game two in a hurry.
LCSC, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA, had five home runs on the day and all of them were solo shots with the exception of a three-run bomb hit by Kevin Lovelace (photo) in the second game. Lovelace and Brian Gaylord led LCSC by driving in four and three runs, respectively.
The losses sink the NCAA D-III Bearcats to 9-17 on the season. The Warriors are now 29-2 against Willamette and have won the last 20 meetings. LCSC’s last loss to the Bearcats came on April 30, 1994.
On the second pitch of game one, Michael Bush put the Warriors on the board with a solo homer to right field—it was the freshman’s first home run in a LCSC uniform. In the third inning, Murray hit his sixth long ball of the season to put his team up 2-0, and then in the sixth, Ashenbrenner scored the fifth and final run via a shot to right field. It was number six for Ashenbrenner as well.
LCSC used three pitchers in the first contest with starter Tyler Knigge being credited with the win. Knigge struck out three and went three and one-third innings while walking three and surrendering a run and two hits. Tim Stuvland and Henry Buenrostro served in relief and both notched three strikeouts apiece. Stuvland gave up one run in three and one-third, while Buenrostro held the Bearcats scoreless over the final two and one-third innings to earn his sixth save of the season.
After tying 7-7 in hits during the first game, LCSC outhit the Bearcats 16-5 in game two with the majority of its runs coming in the third and fifth innings.
Lewis-Clark State’s third inning rally began with three straight bunt attempts. Gino Casini and Connor Moore led off with back-to-back bunt singles, and then Travis Georgius reached base via an error by the pitcher on a sacrifice bunt attempt. The bunt attack was followed by two singles, a double, and a sacrifice fly to hand the Warriors a five spot in the third inning and a lead of 7-0.
The Warriors then used six hits including a home run from Lovelace and a two-run double by Gaylord to plate seven runs in the fifth. Gaylord struck again in the top of the ninth with full-count home run to center field.
After collecting a hit in 18 straight games, Murray was held hitless in game two. The senior’s streak ties him with current major leaguer Brendan Ryan for the eighth longest hitting streak in program history.
Tyrell Poggemeyer, Cody Fassold, Jorge Sanchez, and Zach Clanton shared the pitching duties for the Warriors in game two. While all four pitched well enough to keep the Bearcats from crossing the plate, Fassold’s performance was especially impressive as he fanned four batters and didn’t surrender a hit in his three innings of work to earn the win.
Mitchell Rowan and Sky Kelley provided the majority of the offense for Willamette. Both players finished with three hits and two runs batted in on the day.
The Warriors and Bearcats will meet again at noon on Sunday for the final game of the three-game series.