Warriors pick up 40th win on the season
MCMINNVILLE, Ore. – Three Lewis-Clark State College pitchers combined on a four-hitter and the Warrior batters belted out 16 hits to help LCSC roll past George Fox 10-2 on Saturday at Linfield College.
The win in the Linfield round-robin tournament helped the Warriors improve to 40-12 on the season. It marks the 32nd time in the last 33 years the LCSC baseball program won at least 40 games in a season.
The Warriors, ranked ninth in the NAIA, close out the regular season in the tourney that features three NCAA Division III teams with the Warriors on Sunday against Pacific Lutheran at noon.
Mitchell Wilhite, the second Warrior pitcher, had a solid outing to earn the win. The junior right-hander from Concord, Calif., pitched 5.1 innings and allowed two hits, one run, and one walk. He also struck out five.
“I thought Wilhite pitched well for us,” LCSC coach Gary Picone said. “We came into the game and threw well when we needed it.”
Wilhite, 2-1 on the season, replaced starter Austin Pentacost, who battled with control problems. Pentacost tossed the first 2.2 innings and allowed two hits and one run, but issued six walks. He also struck out two.
Senior Zach Clanton pitched the final inning and picked up a strikeout. In all, LCSC pitchers struck out eight in the contest.
The Warriors also had a strong day at the plate to drop the Bruins to 20-19 on the season. Every Warrior starter had at least two hits, scored two runs, or drove in two runs.
“I just thought we needed a more aggressive offensive approach,” Picone said. “The last game (a 5-4 loss to Linfield) we were not as aggressive on offense as we needed to be. I would like to see a more aggressive offensive approach.”
Senior Trent Bridges, who recently missed 12 games with a fractured finger, went 4-for-5 with three runs scored. Eric Peterson and Alfonso Casillas both went 2-for-5 with two RBI and Peterson also scored twice. Jordan Payne went 3-for-5 with three runs scored, while Braxton Miller and Kyle Knigge drove in two runs apiece.
Along with the 16 hits, LCSC benefitted from seven walks, three hit batters and two errors, all of which provided plenty of scoring opportunities.
The Warriors struck for single runs in the first and third innings for a 2-0 lead. Bridges singled with two outs in the first and went to third on a single by Peterson. When Peterson became caught in a run down, Bridges was able to score before Peterson was tagged out. In the third, Payne singled and eventually scored on a single by Connor Moore.
Four walks by Pentacost in the third inning helped George Fox score a run, but Wilhite entered the game and got a bases-loaded fly out to escape the jam.
The Warriors made it 3-1 in the fifth when Bridges doubled to right and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Knigge.
George Fox cut the margin to 3-2 in the sixth, but the Warriors were able to break the game open with a four-run eighth inning. Payne and Moore started the LCSC rally with walks and Bridges followed with a single. Payne tried to score on the play but was thrown out at home. Peterson followed with a two-run single, and singles by Knigge and Billy Silvestri loaded the bases. Miller then singled to right to score two and make it 7-2.
The Warriors added three insurance runs in the ninth. Payne opened the frame with a single. Moore was hit by a pitch and Peterson walked to load the bases. Casillas then hit a two-run double to right and Knigge drove in the final run with a sacrifice fly.
Picone said he will likely split pitching duties for Sunday’s game to get one last live look at some of the players. LCSC is guaranteed a spot in the 10-team Avista NAIA World Series later this month in Lewiston and must get its roster down to 24 players by then.