Fifth-inning rally lifts LC over Whitworth
Consecutive RBI single to right field from Trent Bridges, Brian Gaylord, and Alfonso Casillas sparked a four-run fifth inning and the Lewis-Clark State College baseball team escaped a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the top of the ninth by turning its third double play of the game to defeat Whitworth 5-3 in nonleague action at LCSC’s Harris Field on Wednesday night.
The Warriors trailed 3-0 after three innings in the contest, which was played in intermittent rain showers and cool temperatures. LCSC rallied for a 5-3 lead and then rode its defense and pitching to the win, which was the team’s third straight. LCSC is now 14-5 overall while Whitworth falls to 6-10.
It was the seventh straight time LCSC has defeated Whitworth and the Warriors have now won 27 of the last 28 meetings. LCSC also turned a season-high three double plays on the night and four Warrior pitchers combined to strikeout a season-high 12 batters.
LCSC coach Gary Picone said he was pleased with the Warriors’ performance overall, especially because the game was basically an extension of the team’s road trip. LCSC was scheduled to play four games at the University of British Columbia last weekend in Vancouver, B.C., but constant rain showers changed the schedule each day and the Warriors only got three games in. On the trip home, the Warriors beat St. Martin’s on Tuesday in Lacey, Wash., but even then had to play at a different stadium because of playing conditions. Wednesday’s contest against Whitworth appeared to be in doubt when heavy rains hit Lewiston late in the afternoon.
“It seems like we’ve had a bunch of games like this and you just never know when you are going to play,” Picone said. “The challenge is to stay focused and play. We started out that way tonight, but we didn’t stay focused.”
Whitworth scored three runs in the third inning off of LCSC starter Cody Fassold, who was been struggling of late. Brandon Ellendt singled to start the Pirate third and ended up on third after a single by Kevin Valerio. Michael Takemure was hit by a pitch to the load the bases, and Landon Scott brought in the first run with a sacrifice fly to center. Tyler Pfeffer followed with a two-run double to end Fassold’s night.
Cody Garner came in and got out of the jam and allowed just one hit in 1.2 innings with three strikeouts. Zach Clanton, now 1-0 on the season, pitched the next three innings and allowed just one hit with four strikeouts. Casey Edelbrock earned his first save of the season by pitching the final two innings and allowing two hits with two strikeouts.
Edelbrock did get in a bit of a pickle in the ninth when CJ Perry had a pinch-hit single and Gerhard Muelheims followed with a walk. Ellendt then dropped a bunt that turned into a single when the LCSC defense didn’t communicate who was fielding the ball and who was covering the base. That allowed Whitworth to load the bases with no outs.
Edelbrock, however, got Valerio to strike out on an 0-2 pitch and then Takemure grounded into a double play to end the game.
The Warriors picked up their first run of the game in the fourth inning when Gaylord doubled to right and eventually scored on a single by Braxton Miller.
LCSC used four hits, but did leave the bases loaded in its big fifth inning. Gino Casini started the rally with a walk and Cody Weiss followed with a single. After a pitching change, Bridge singled to bring in Casini, Gaylord singled to score Weiss, and Casillas singled in Bridges for a 4-3 lead. Mike Bush was then hit by a pitch to load the bases and Miller picked up his second RBI with a sacrifice fly to right. A walk reloaded the bases with one out before consecutive fly outs helped Whitworth escape without further damage.
Both teams collected nine hits in the contest. Gaylord and Casillas had two each for LCSC, while Miller finished with two RBI. Scott and Ellendt had two hits apiece for the Pirates, while Pfeffer drove in two runs.
“I thought for 5-6 innings we had a pretty good mentality on offense,” Picone said. “For us to be a good offensive team, we need to be consistent. We can’t just turn it on and off.”
Whitworth retired the final 11 Warrior batters in a row, including two in the fifth inning.
LCSC will resume play on Friday when it starts a two-game series with Central Washington. The two meet at 6 p.m. on Friday and then again at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
NOTE: Picone also announced the Warriors have added two games to its road trip in April in Monmouth, Ore., against Western Oregon. The two teams will now play April 7 and 8 at 2 p.m. and then at noon on April 9 and 10. All will be single nine-inning contests.