Friday’s win marked LCSC’s four walk-off win of the season and seventh walk off victory over Concordia in their 69-game history. LCSC has won 62 of those meetings, including four of the last five that have gone into extra innings.
Concordia, which defeated LCSC 7-2 in Thursday’s opener of the four-game series, appeared to be headed to another victory behind starting pitcher Mitch Ludtke, who blanked the Warriors for the first seven innings.
LCSC, however, responded with two runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game and used solid pitching of its own to claim the victory.
“This was a really good game with two really good pitching performances,” LCSC coach Gary Picone said. “It was a shame it ended the way it did (walk-off walk) because it was a great ballgame.”
Ludtke went nine inning and allowed eight hits and two runs. He struck out 10 and walked four before he gave way to reliever Eric Weir to start the 10th inning.
Michael Noteware had another solid outing for LCSC. He allowed seven hits, one walk and two runs over his eight innings and struck out three. Terik Gofinch pitched two innings of hitless ball and earned the win for his first decision of the season.
“Both of our pitchers threw well,” Picone said.
Concordia scored single runs in the third and sixth innings to take a 2-0 lead. In the third, Jordan Keener reached on an infield single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a single by Ryan Rodriguez. In the sixth, Sheldon Austria opened with a single and Jared Young added a one-out single. After a wild pitch moved the runners up to second and third, Mike Cero was intentionally walked to load the bases. Cole Shidaki followed with an RBI single but Bufton, the LCSC right-fielder, gunned out Young at home to stop the rally.
LCSC had some opportunities early but just couldn’t get the key hit when needed. The Warriors left 11 runners stranded on base.
“I thought we swung the bats well in the first four innings, but we just couldn’t get the ball to drop in when needed,” Picone said. “But we had more quality at-bats tonight.”
The Warriors got to Ludtke in the eighth to tie the game. Jordan Payne’s infield single started the rally and Trent Bridges brought in the first run with a double, one of three he had on the night. Billy Silvestri singled Bridges to third and Braxton Miller grounded out to short, which allowed Bridges to score the tying run. The Warriors, however, left Silvestri stranded at third.
“That was a good inning for us,” Picone said. “It was a much better effort all-around for us tonight. We had more quality at-bats in that inning.”
Both teams put a runner on in the ninth, and Concordia also put a runner on in the 10th, but was unable to score.
In the bottom of the 10th, Bridges led off with a double to right-center field and then went to third on a wild pitch. After Silvestri walked, Miller was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up a force out at home. The strategy worked early when Bobby Tannehill hit a bouncer back to the mound that Weir fielded and threw home for the force out. Weir, however, walked Peterson on a 3-1 count to end the game.
Bridges, who played shortstop in the game while Tannehill played second, finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Zach Holley and Jordan Payne had two hits apiece.
Young was the only Concordia player with two hits.
The two teams wrap up the four-game series with a noon doubleheader on Saturday. Concordia is now 19-17 overall and 11-11 in NAIA West play.