Miller's eight RBI help LCSC paste Corban 13-2
Junior Braxton Miller continued his hot start by belting a pair of home runs, including a grand slam, and driving in eight runs to help the Lewis-Clark State College baseball team roll past Corban University 13-2 in the final game of the Red Lion Tournament at LCSC’s Harris Field on Sunday.
Miller hit a two-run home run in the second inning and a grand-slam in the fourth inning for his third and fourth home runs of the season to help LCSC improve to 5-0 and win the tournament title going away.
Miller finished one RBI short of tying the program’s single-game record of nine set by Ryan Kies in 1997. Miller’s performance marked the 11th time a Warrior finished with eight RBI in a game. Miller actually was on deck when Vaughan Prow lined out with the bases loaded to end the bottom of the eighth inning.
Miller also was involved in a violent game-ending collision when Corban’s Nate Hiebert crashed into the catcher after a relay throw home. Hiebert was unable to knock the ball free from Miller and made the final out, but Miller did suffer a bloody nose from the collision.
Sunday’s contest wasn’t much different than the first four in the tournament for LCSC. The Warriors scored four runs in the first inning to take control of the game. LCSC outscored its opponents 22-1 in the first inning of the tournament. LCSC also scored at least nine runs in every game and has outscored its opponents 64-15 this year.
“I thought we started well,” LCSC first-year coach Gary Picone said. “The key thing for us is guys are getting on in front of the guys who are producing the big numbers. They’re keeping the line moving, so to speak, which is an important concept.”
Miller, Gino Casini, and Brian Gaylord, the heart of LCSC’s order, have combined for 39 RBI, five doubles, two triples and eight home runs this season. Miller is hitting .500 (8-of-16) with two doubles, a team-best 15 RBI and seven runs scored. He also has a slugging percentage of 1.375, an amazing number.
LCSC got rolling right away on Sunday with four runs on five hits in the first inning after sending 10 batters to the plate.
“We talk about starting a game, coming out ready to play,” Picone said.
Kevin Lovelace started the rally with a single and Connor Moore and Casini followed with singles to load the bases. Gaylord brought in the first run with a fielder’s choice, while Miller’s sacrifice fly to right made it 2-0. After a walk to Trent Bridges, Lucas Shawn and Kyle Knigge hit RBI singles.
LCSC pushed the score to 6-0 in the second when Gaylord hit a two-out double and came home on Miller’s two-run home run to left-center field.
Corban picked up its two runs in the fourth with the help of two LCSC errors. A throwing error allowed the first run to score while Aarason Perry drove in the second run with a ground out.
LCSC answered with four runs in the bottom of the fourth for a 10-2 lead. Lovelace was hit by a pitch, Casini singled, and Gaylord walked to load the bases for Miller, who hit his grand slam to straight away center field.
LCSC’s final three runs came in the fifth when an error, a walk, and a hit batter loaded the bases. Casini grounded out to third to drive in the first run, and Gaylord and Miller followed with consecutive RBI singles to right.
Miller was then pinch-hit for in the seventh inning and re-entered the game, but didn’t collect another at-bat.
Lovelace finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored, while Gaylord was 2-for-3 with two RBI and three runs scored. In all, LCSC had 13 hits, four hit batters, and collected five walks.
Zach Hull, a sophomore from Moscow, went the first four innings on the mound for LCSC and picked up the win in his first outing of the season. The left-handed allowed two hits and two unearned runs and struck out one. Zach Clanton went the next three innings and allowed five hits, while Paula Anaya and Alex Murrieta each pitched an inning. The four pitchers allowed 11 hits, but did not issue a walk.
Tyler Doornink, the first of six pitchers for Corban, took the loss. He allowed seven hits and six runs in two innings.
In Sunday’s other game, Concordia defeated College of Idaho 8-4.
The final tournament standings had LCSC at 5-0, Concordia at 3-2, College of Idaho at 1-3, and Corban at 0-4.
LCSC is home again this week for another tournament, the five-team Guardian Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Tournament, which will take place Friday through Sunday. Joining LCSC will be Central Washington, St. Martin’s, LCSC, Western Oregon, and Linfield. Action starts at 10 a.m. with CWU and St. Martin’s. LCSC will play St. Martin’s at 12:30 p.m. Friday.