DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The four-game series between perennial NAIA powerhouses No. 8 Lewis-Clark State College and No. 7 Embry-Riddle ended in a split on Saturday afternoon at Sliwa Stadium. For the second straight day, the Eagles rallied late to win by a final score of 4-3.
Embry-Riddle, which enjoyed a 4-3 walk-off win in the ninth inning on Friday, plated the go-ahead run with two outs in the seventh. The run was scored when Adam Cellini reached base via a fielding error and pinch runner Connor Williams advanced to second and third on wild pitches before being brought home by Kyle Chastain’s single up the middle.
Despite dropping back-to-back one-run games, the Warriors end up with a solid 4-2 record in their weeklong test in Florida.
The four road wins, which included a 3-2 victory over No. 13 St. Thomas and a 7-2 win against Webber International, put the Warriors in good position to move up in the national poll, which will be released on Tuesday. LCSC now stands at 24-7 on the year, while Embry-Riddle is 25-7.
Saturday’s game began with a burst scoring but quickly returned to the trend of the series and ended up as another pitching duel. Six of the seven total runs were scored in the first two innings.
LCSC’s Jake Shirley and Kyle Knigge led off the game with back-to-back doubles down the right and left field lines, respectively. Knigge plated Shirley with his drive and then came in to score when Ryan Sells hit a groundball fielder’s choice to shortstop.
In the second inning, LCSC added its third run thanks to an RBI single up the middle by Shirley. Bobby Joe Tannehill scored on the hit after reaching base on a fielding error by the second baseman. Embry-Riddle had three errors in the game.
The Eagles used three hits to score one run in the first. Chastain put ERAU on the board with a hard hit groundball that took a huge hop over the head of the second baseman. Chastain finished 2-for-4 with two RBI’s.
Embry-Riddle then pounded three more hits to tie the game at 3-3 in the second. A groundball fielder’s choice scored the Eagles’ second run and a wild pitch brought home the third.
The Eagles finished with nine hits to LCSC’s six.
Chad Modomo picked up the win for the Eagles. The senior went seven innings, struck out five, and surrendered five hits and three runs (one earned). Eric Green held the Warriors scoreless over the final two frames to earn the save. He struck out two.
After playing 10 games in the last nine days, the Warriors’ pitching staff, understandably, looked a little worn on Saturday but still managed to keep the game within reach.
Carsen Nylund, who threw 7 2/3 innings in the win over St. Thomas on Monday, started the game but went just two frames. LCSC then used three pitchers in relief including Seth Haehl, Sal Arena, and Steve Thompson. Arena, who pitched the night before, didn’t give up a hit or a walk, but was tabbed with an unearned run and took the loss.
The Warriors’ defense looked solid again on Saturday and helped the team avoid damage a couple of times.
Sells, the third baseman, got the Warriors out of a bases-loaded jam in the third when he charged a soft hit groundball near the mound, fielded it cleanly, and made a strong off-balance throw to narrowly beat the runner at first.
Tannehill also made a couple fine plays at shortstop, and seems to be making a strong case for continued starts at the position. The Warriors are 13-2 when Tannehill starts at short—with the two losses coming in the last two days—and 11-5 when someone else gets the start.
Lewis-Clark State’s Brady Steiger, named the NAIA Player of the Week on Tuesday, had a rare off day at the plate. The junior went 0-for-5 and saw his 17-game hitting streak come to an end.
Both teams now look to stay hot during the second half of the season and perhaps meet again at the Avista NAIA World Series, held in Lewiston on May 24-31. Information and tickets for the Series are available at www.naiaworldseries.com.
The chances of the two teams meeting again this year are actually not bad as Embry-Riddle is one of only three teams to have appeared at every NAIA World Series since 2008. LCSC and Oklahoma City are the other two.
Next week the Warriors hit the road again, traveling to Caldwell, Idaho, for four games against the College of Idaho. The series is part of a stretch of 14 straight games on the road for LCSC.
NOTE: Saturday’s game was originally scheduled for 3 p.m., Pacific, but was moved to 11 a.m. due to a strong chance of rain later in the day.