Ninth-inning Warrior rally falls short against George Fox
LEWISTON, Idaho – Soft-tossing right-hander Clay Gartner bobbed and weaved his way through the Warrior lineup on Saturday and the result was the end of the Lewis-Clark State College baseball team’s 11-game win streak. Without issuing a walk or a strikeout, Gartner went 8.1 innings to lead George Fox University to a 5-3 win over the Warriors on day two of the Inland Cellular Tournament.
“They came and competed, and competed harder than we did,” said LCSC head coach Gary Picone. “The team that competes the hardest wins the game.”
The epitome of “compete” was shown in the effort of Gartner who used finesse and location to hold off a Warrior lineup that has averaged over 12 runs in the past 11 games. The sophomore faced multiple jams, but always seemed to find a way out.
With a lead-off home run by Alfonso Casillas (ninth of the season) in the second followed by a single by Trent Bridges, the Warriors looked to be delivering a knockout blow early on. However, Gartner got the next batter to ground into a double play to kill LC’s momentum and keep the score at 1-0.
Gartner, who is now 3-4 on the season, used double plays to squelch Warrior rallies in the fifth and seventh, and also was backed by good defense.
In the ninth, with the score 5-2, Lewis-Clark State put itself in a position to win. With one out, Casillas hit a sharp ground ball to the third baseman who misplayed it to commit George Fox’s first error of the game. Gartner, who had reached a pitch count of 101, then left the game to be replaced by Carl Mason.
The Warrior hitters seemed more suited for the harder-throwing Mason as the first three batters he faced each made solid contact. Bridges hammered an 0-1 pitch deep to left field, but the leftfielder made a nice running catch on the warning track. Next, Gino Casini lined a single back up the middle to put runners on first and second.
DeGuire followed this with a line drive just over the first baseman’s head and down the right field line to score Casillas and put runners on second and third. The next batter walked, but Mason was able to blow a 2-2 fastball past the final batter to end the game on a strikeout and earn the save.
The loss brings the Warriors to 35-14 overall, and lifts George Fox, an NCAA Division III school, to 26-12.
The Bruins scored one run on three hits in the third, two runs on an single by Eric Gantenbein in the fifth, manufactured a run in the sixth, and then were helped by a Warrior fielding error to plate one more in the seventh.
Overall, LCSC outhit George Fox 10-8, but the Bruins were aided by six walks.
Casillas, Bridges, and Bryan Abrey led LC with two hits apiece, and Casillas scored all three of the team’s runs. Derek Dixon led the Bruins with two hits and two runs scored.
Sunday is the final day of the three-day tournament and will pit Linfield against George Fox at 11 a.m., and Pacific Lutheran versus LCSC at 2 p.m.