Walk-off single in the ninth lifts Warriors past Wolves
LEWISTON, Idaho – With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Alfonso Casillas drove a ball off the base of the left-center field wall to give the Lewis-Clark State College baseball team a dramatic walk-off win over Western Oregon University at the Inland Cellular Tournament on Friday night. The clutch hit broke a tie and handed the Warriors a 14-13 victory.
“It’s great playing against these guys,” said LCSC head coach Gary Picone about facing Western Oregon. “It takes nine hard innings to win. I enjoyed the game. They’re a quality opponent.”
Lewis-Clark State, ranked No. 11 in the NAIA, put on one of its strongest hitting performances of the season on Friday, however, Western Oregon, ranked No. 17 in NCAA Division II, matched the Warriors stroke for stroke.
With 30 hits in the game, both teams put up crooked numbers on the scoreboard. The Warriors opened with a 6-2 lead, Western responded with an 8-6 edge, and LCSC came back to make it 13-9, however, the Wolves answered with four runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 13-13.
The Warriors’ ninth-inning rally started with a one-out triple off the right-center field wall by Jordan Payne. The Wolves then chose to intentionally walk LCSC’s No. 2 hitter Kyle Knigge, who was already 4-for-5 on the night. They followed this by intentionally walking Trent Bridges who was 3-for-4.
The intentional walks established a force out at every base, unfortunately for the Wolves, the intentional walks also brought LCSC’s cleanup hitter to the plate. Casillas, who had hit a three-run homer in the third inning (his fourth of the year), connected on a 2-1 fastball to bring home Payne and end the game.
The win improves LCSC to 7-2 overall and extends the team’s win streak to five games. Western Oregon is now 8-3.
Lewis-Clark State had a season-high 18 hits in the game and was led by four from Knigge, three apiece by Bridges and Billy Silvestri, and two apiece from Payne, Casillas, and Aaron DeGuire. Casillas led the team with five runs batted in, Silvestri had three, and Knigge and Bridges had two apiece.
“The key thing for us was that our hits were from up and down the lineup,” said Picone. “We had some big hits tonight from guys at the top and bottom of our order.”
Key hits from the top of LCSC’s lineup included an RBI triple by Knigge and a two-run home run by Bridges in the seventh. Providing some spark near the bottom of the order was Silvestri, batting in the seventh spot, who had an RBI single in the second and a two-run single down the right-field line in the sixth.
Bo Folkinga led Western Oregon with two home runs and six runs batted in on the day. The first baseman hit a two-run homer in the first, and a grand slam in the fifth. Western’s ninth-inning rally was highlighted by a two-run double by Matt Nylen. Nylen finished 2-for-4 with three runs batted in.
With both teams swinging for and often reaching the fences, no pitcher was able to enjoy an extended stint on the mound.
Carsen Nylund started the game for the Warriors and was clipping along pretty well with six strikeouts in four innings until running into trouble in the fifth. Garrett Tygerson entered the game in long relief and held the Wolves scoreless for a couple of innings until the rally in the ninth. In the ninth, Sal Arena came in with two outs and was able to gather the final out of the inning, but only after surrendering a couple of unearned runs. Because LCSC rallied in the bottom of the ninth, Arena was credited with the win.
LCSC ended up with four errors in the game which led to four unearned runs. Western Oregon committed two errors.
“I like the mentality we have right now at the plate,” said Picone. “But the bottom line is we’re going to have to field and pitch better to get to where we want to go at the end of the season.”
In the two tournament games earlier in the day, Saint Martin’s fell to Central Washington 12-3 and to Western Oregon 19-2.
On Saturday, Central Washington and Western Oregon will play at 10 a.m., Central Washington and LCSC will play at 1 p.m., and Saint Martin’s will face LCSC at 4 p.m. On Sunday, the bottom two seeds will play at 11 a.m., followed by the top two seeds at 2 p.m.