LEWISTON, Idaho –Although it wasn’t the perfect shaving cream pie to the face, Lewis-Clark State College junior Alphonso Casillas wasn’t complaining Friday night.
Neither were his teammates.
The infielder/designated hitter smacked a pair of home runs and drove in five runs in the opener and then hit a two-run double with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning of the second game to help the Lewis-Clark State College baseball team sweep an NAIA West doubleheader from the University of British Columbia 7-6 and 2-1 at LCSC’s Harris Field.
During a post-game interview with the media, the Indio, Calif., product was answering a question when a teammate hit him with a handful of shaving cream and rubbed it all over his face. It’s a celebration common in the Major Leagues.
“It’s good,” Casillas said. “But shaving cream?”
There was a lot for Casillas and the Warriors to celebrate Friday. His first home run was a two-run blast in the first inning of the opener, which snapped a 36-inning scoreless streak when the Warriors were shutout in four consecutive games. It got the ball rolling as the Warrior collected 10 hits, but did have to hold off three runs in the final two innings by the Thunderbirds.
In the second game, the Warriors needed Casillas’ key blow to get past a strong performance by UBC pitcher David Otterman.
The sweep by the 18th-ranked Warriors over the No. 7-ranked Thunderbirds tightened the conference standings. UBC is 20-5 in league play and 24-10 overall, while LCSC improves to 12-6 and 23-10. The two teams meet in another doubleheader at 1 p.m. on Saturday and conclude the five-game series with a single game on Sunday, also at 1 p.m.
“This feels really good, especially to get two victories,” Casillas said.
The Warriors, who had earlier morning batting practice during the week in an attempt to shake out of the hitting slump, got things rolling early in the opener with five runs in the first two innings. In the first, Trent Bridges singled and Casillas, batting cleanup, hit a two-run home run to left field for a 2-0 lead.
“I think that relaxed us,” Warrior coach Gary Picone said of the runs.
The Warriors added three more in the second when Cody Weiss doubled and a pair of walks loaded the bases with one out. Bridges followed with a single through the left-side of the infield and Casillas followed with a two-run single to left for a 5-0 lead.
“I just wanted to be patient today and see the ball,” Casillas said. “My dad always tells me to take a deep breath before stepping into the box.”
UBC finally got to LCSC starter Tyrell Poggemeyer (5-1) for its first hit and run in the fifth inning and then added two more in the sixth to cut the margin to 5-3. Casillas answered in the seven with a solo home run to right, his third of the season, and a bases-loaded throwing error on a potential doubleplay ball allowed another run to score to make it 7-3.
UBC, however, made things interesting for LCSC. The Thunderbirds had three hits to push across a run in the eighth to make it 7-4, and then after the first two batters were put down in the ninth, the T-birds used two singles and a walk to load the bases. After a hit batter forced in a run, Keaton Briscoe followed with a higher chopper infield single to make it 7-6. Reliever Zach Arneson ended the game when he struck out Blake Carruthers.
Casillas finished the game 4-for-5 with five RBI and two runs scored. Bridges and Weiss added two hits each. Carruthers went 3-for-5 with an RBI for UBC.
The second game was a pitcher’s duel between Otterman and LCSC’s Tyler Barrett. Neither one allowed a run until the sixth. Barrett allowed three hits and one run in 6.2 innings. He also struck out nine, but did walk five. He was replaced by Alex Murrieta, who pitched the final 2.1 innings and didn’t allow a hit. He did walk two and struck out two.
Otterman took a five-hit shutout into the ninth inning with just one walk and eight strikeouts, but the Warriors managed to put three hits together to pull out the win.
Weiss started the rally with a single to right and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kevin Lovelace. Bridges followed with an infield single to third, which forced Weiss to remain at second base. Casillas followed with a two-run double to right field to end the game and give LCSC its second walk-off win of the season.
Casillas went 2-for-4 in the game with two RBI to finish the day at 6-for-9 with seven RBI and two runs scored. Bridges also had two hits for the Warriors, while Kevin Nickel had an RBI single for UBC in the sixth after a pair of walks.
Picone praised the pitching staff and the Warriors’ approach at the plate for being more patient.
Next week, the Warriors will play a six-game series with Corban to help make up games lost to rain in a series earlier in Salem. The two teams will play a 3 p.m. doubleheader on Thursday, and then a pair of noon doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday, all at Harris Field.