No. 5 Eagles soar in series opener with Warriors
LEWISTON, Idaho – Adam Paulencu’s fastball kept the Warriors scoreless and JT Warmoth’s grand slam in the sixth changed the complexion of the game, as No. 5-ranked Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University exploded to pick up a 15-0 win over the No. 11-ranked Lewis-Clark State College baseball team at Harris Field on Monday night.
With Warrior starter Austin Pentecost matching Paulencu pitch for pitch and strikeout for strikeout through the first four innings, Monday’s contest between the two NAIA powerhouses seemed to be a textbook pitchers’ duel. Even after Embry-Riddle strung four hits together and took a 3-0 lead in the fifth, the game still felt like it could go either way.
This feeling completely changed with one swing of the bat in the sixth.
Two walks and a fielding error loaded the bases and this brought Warmoth to the plate. Warmoth, a senior who had entered the game in the fifth because of an injury, launched the first pitch he saw deep over the wall in left field.
The blast seemed to open the offensive floodgates for the Eagles as they went on to score 12 runs in the final four innings.
“We got beat by a really good team tonight, and we have a chance to play them three more times,” said LCSC head coach Gary Picone. “We knew they were a good team, and that’s why we scheduled this series.”
The four-game series, which has been billed as the World Series Warm-up because of the long history both teams have had at the national championship, will continue with a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. It will wrap up with a final game on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Paulencu, a 6-foot-4 junior who is known to reach 94 mph on the radar gun, fanned eight batters while surrendering four hits and four walks to pick up the win. The right-hander is now 3-1 on the year. He threw a season-high 117 pitches.
Pentecost, who retired in order the first nine batters he faced, ended up going six innings and surrendering seven runs, three of them being earned. He struck out seven and gave up six hits and four walks. The right-handed senior dips to 4-2 overall.
Despite sitting half the game on the bench, Warmoth finished the night 3-for-3 with a home run, a double, three runs scored and four runs batted in. He entered the game as a pinch runner in the fifth after centerfielder Frankie Arias was injured diving head first into third base. It was later determined that Arias suffered a concussion and is expected to be out for a week.
Four other Eagles also had multiple hits in the game. Jeff Lemon was 3-for-6 with two RBI, Mike Gragilla was 2-for-4 with three runs scored, and Arias and Ben Kline had two hits apiece.
Jordan Payne and Keven Hawk had two hits apiece for LCSC, but the Warriors, now 20-8 overall, had nothing to show for it as they left 11 men on base, including two in the seventh, two in the eighth, and three in the ninth.
The Eagles outhit the Warriors 17-7 overall. Some of Embry-Riddle’s hit were smashed, but a good number of them seemed to just barely drop in somewhere in the outfield or sneak between a couple of gloves in the infield.
For Embry-Riddle, now 25-7 overall, the victory might bring with it a small feeling of revenge for the 19-0 loss to LCSC in the opening round of the 2008 Avista NAIA World Series.
With 19 appearances between the two teams combined, LCSC and Embry-Riddle stand as the two most frequent attendees at the World Series in the past 10 years. As such, the teams have met on a number of recent occasions.
After Monday’s loss, LCSC is now 3-4 against Embry-Riddle all-time.