LEWISTON, Idaho – The eighth-ranked Lewis-Clark State College baseball team used a seven-run fourth inning and a combined four-hitter from Anthony Armanino and Carsen Nylund to win on Opening Day at Harris Field, defeating British Columbia 11-1 to make a winner of Jeremiah Robbins in his first game as LCSC’s head coach.
Jake Shirley hit a solo home run in the first at-bat of his Warrior career to get the offense started for LCSC, and fellow newcomers Brady Steiger and Ryan Sells had three hits apiece against the Thunderbirds in the second game of the NAIA West Tournament.
UBC defeated Concordia (Ore.) 4-3 in the opening game of the tournament earlier Friday.
“Our guys had a good mindset today,” said Robbins, who made his debut as LCSC’s head coach on Friday after spending seven seasons leading Western Oregon. “We had a little bit of weather last night and we had the guys here early getting the field ready, but they stuck with it. We pitched really well and for the most part, we stuck to our approach offensively. To score 11 runs in the first game of the year – we’ll take it.”
Armanino, a senior from San Carlos, Calif. who is coming off an All-West Region junior campaign, started 2013 off right against UBC, tossing five innings of two-hit ball. He struck out four and walked one, and allowed a single run in the third inning.
“I thought he looked really good,” Robbins said of Armanino, who was 10-1 for Lewis-Clark State last season.
Nylund came on to start the sixth and was similarly dominant, needing just 46 pitches in holding the Thunderbirds to two hits in four scoreless innings. The junior from Surrey, B.C. fanned four and did not walk a batter to earn the save.
Matt Thornton took the loss for UBC, giving up six earned runs on five hits in three innings starting with Shirley’s blast off the center field batter’s eye with one out in the second.
“He’s a really good player. We’ve seen it from him all fall and winter,” Robbins said of Shirley, a junior from West Covina, Calif. “He plays the game the right way.”
The Warriors tacked on another run in the third inning when Ryan Sells, one of six newcomers in the starting lineup for LCSC on Friday, singled and later scored on a wild pitch.
The floodgates really opened Lewis-Clark State in the fourth, but Thornton and UBC didn’t help themselves as Jacob Cano and Will Thorp were both hit by pitches to lead off the frame. Kyle Knigge advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt, and Shirley ended Thornton’s day with an RBI single to center.
Steiger greeted new Thunderbird pitcher Sean Callegari with a two-run single to right-center that scored Knigge and Kevin Knapp, running for Thorp. Sells followed with another opposite-field base hit to make it 6-0 Warriors.
Sako Chapjian knocked a pinch-hit single through the right side to reload the bases, and with two outs, Cano singled down the right field line to plate two more runs. Thorp, LCSC’s starting catcher, re-entered the game and also singled to right, driving in Chapjian with the seventh and final run of the frame.
All told, the Warriors sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning and peppered the right side of the field during the onslaught, a fact that particularly pleased Robbins.
“We stuck with our approach to work the middle and right side,” he said. “I thought as the game went on we got a little to pull-happy, which you can’t do when a team is trying to throw you soft away, but it’s good that we’re believing in the approach.”
The Warriors tacked on two more runs in the fifth on a two-run triple by Chapjian that scored Steiger and Shirley.
Lewis-Clark State continues play in the tournament on Saturday at 3 p.m. in a game against Concordia at Harris Field. Senior Mike Noteware will start on the mound for the Warriors, and first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.