Six pitchers combine on two-hit shutout of Patten
Six Lewis-Clark State College pitchers combined on a two-hit shutout to help the Warriors wrap up NAIA West Conference play with a 5-0 win over Patten University at LCSC's Harris Field on Sunday.
The win clinches the conference title for the Warriors, who are now 37-10 overall and finish 25-6 in conference play. LCSC, ranked No. 10 in the NAIA, finishes league play a week ahead of the eight remaining NAIA West teams, but College of Idaho, which stands in second place, already has seven league losses and can't catch the Warriors.
Because LCSC is the host team for the Avista NAIA World Series and receives and automatic berth into the 10-team double-elimination tournament, the Warriors will not participate in the NAIA West Conference Tournament. The eventual second-place finisher will play host to the five-team tournament the first weekend in May. The eventual winner will earn an automatic berth into the opening round of nationals.
More important for the Warriors was the outstanding pitching they received on Sunday from six players who haven't seen a lot of time on the mound this season for various reasons, nearly all of them injuries. So going into the game, Warrior coach Gary Picone went with a pre-determined inning and pitch count for each pitcher.
Seth Haehl, who is coming off Tommy John surgery from last year, allowed one walk in his two innings and picked up the win to improve to 2-0 on the season. He was followed by Luke Goodgion, who struck out five but hit two batters in his two innings. Garrett Tygerson went the next 1.2 innings and struck out two.
Brock Jessup was the fourth Warrior pitcher but his first pitch in the top of the sixth went for Patten's first hit of the game, a single by David Whiteside. Jessup went 1.1 innings with three strikeouts, and was followed by an inning each from Sal Arena and Mitchell Wilhite, who played the first eight innings at second base. Arena struck out one and walked one, while Wilhite gave up a one-out single to pinch-hitter Isaac Duran in the top of the ninth. Duran, however, was eliminated on a ground ball double play to end the game.
In all, the Warriors pitchers struck out 11, walked two and hit two.
"Our pitching was good and all the guys threw well," Picone said. "That's not easy to do. All of them knew they were only going to get out there for an inning or two, and it was important for them to throw well."
Picone said as the Warriors get ready for the postseason and have to trim the roster, the coaching staff needed to see what the pitchers who haven't thrown as much this season could do. Although he didn't call it an audition, Picone said he liked what he saw with his staff.
While the six were tying up Patten's bats in helping the Warriors sweep the four game series (LCSC outscored Patten 42-6 during the series), another LCSC player was making his mark at the plate. Kevin McLeod, who was making just his fourth start of the season, went 4-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and a run scored.
"Kevin had a nice game," Picone said. "The first two he hit were solid shots."
Alfonso Casillas, back in the Warrior lineup after missing some time with a hamstring injury, went 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Jordan Payne added an RBI and two runs scored.
Picone said it was good to see Casillas and Kyle Knigge back in the Warrior lineup after coming back from injuries, but that the team is still pretty beat up. Picone expects infielder Trent Bridges to be out until the Series, while pitcher Carson Nylund is questionable. He said he hopes to have infielder Bobby Tannehill back next weekend, but added the team may have lost another player because Kevin Hawk suffered a hand injury against Patten and will have it further examined this week.
In Sunday's game, the Warriors grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second when Eric Peterson singled, but was forced out on a grounder by Billy Silvestri. A single by Knigge moved Silvestri to third, while a single by McLeod drove in the first run.
In the fifth and seventh Casillas drove in Payne with singles. In the fifth, Payne led off with a double, while in the seventh, Payne reached second on a throwing error.
The Warriors added their final two runs in the eighth when Patten starter Sean Rogers finally wore down. Rogers allowed 12 hits and three walks in his eight innings with one strikeout.
Knigge began the Warriors' rally in the eighth with a single, and McLeod followed with a single. Aaron DeGuire was then hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. After a force out at home on a grounder, Payne was hit by a pitch to force in a run, while Connor Moore drew a bases-loaded walk to force in the final run.
The Warriors have six games remaining this season, all against NCAA Division III opponents. LCSC entertains Linfield College for a three-game series starting this Friday at 6 p.m. at Harris Field. The two also play single games at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
LCSC then closes out the regular season on May 4-6 in a tourney in McMinnville, Ore. LCSC will face Linfield again, along with George Fox and Pacific Lutheran.