LEWISTON, Idaho – The seventh-ranked Lewis-Clark State College baseball team completed a four-game sweep of Simpson (Calif.) University by winning both ends of a doubleheader on Sunday at Harris Field.
The Warriors (34-9 overall, 20-4 NAIA West) had a pair of big innings to help fuel a 9-2 victory in the opener before rallying late for a 4-2 comeback win in the nightcap. It was the fifth straight series victory for Lewis-Clark State in regional play.
Simpson falls to 3-34 overall and 1-19 in NAIA West play with the defeats on Sunday.
The Warriors asserted control of the first game quickly, putting up six runs in the bottom of the third inning against Simpson starter Cameron Imhoff (0-9). Jacob Cano, who went 4-for-8 with four RBI in the twinbill, started the rally with a sharp single to right field, and advanced to third on Kevin Knapp’s double.
After an out, Bobby Joe Tannehill drove in Cano with a run-scoring groundout. Brady Steiger drew a walk to put runners on first and third, and Cody Lavalli drove in his sixth run of the weekend with an RBI single to make it 2-0.
The next four Warriors collected base hits, as LCSC sent 10 men to the plate in the six-run outburst.
That was enough for Lewis-Clark State starter Steve Thompson (4-3), who allowed two earned runs on five hits in seven innings of work. He walked one and struck out four, and LCSC tacked on three more runs in the fifth with Cano’s two-run single serving as the big blow.
Tyler Duffin worked the final two innings in the victory.
The nightcap took much longer to be decided, as the Warrior offense struggled to figure out Red Hawks starter Joshua Graves.
The 6-foot-10 Graves kept the Warriors off-balance with breaking stuff, and the Red Hawks scored a pair of unearned runs off LCSC starter Seth Haehl in the second inning. Simpson held the 2-0 lead until the fifth inning, when the Warriors cut the lead in half when Cano scored on a wild pitch after doubling to the left-center field gap.
LCSC had other opportunities to score off Graves to that point, but weren’t able to cash in. Overall, the Warriors left nine men on base in the game.
“He was throwing a couple of different pitches for strikes, and we made zero adjustments at the plate,” Lewis-Clark State coach Jeremiah Robbins said of Graves. “When you’re chasing pitches up in the zone against a guy that tall, you’re not going to have much success.”
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Warriors finally broke through.
Lavalli, who went 10-for-17 with four runs scored and seven RBI in the four games against Simpson, hit his team-best seventh home run of the season to lead off the frame to tie the game at two.
After Ryan Sells walked on a 3-2 pitch, Kyle Knigge beat out a bunt when Graves tripped trying to field it. With runners on first and second, Kevin Hawk executed a perfect sacrifice bunt off reliever Alex Lee to move the runners up 90 feet.
Cano finished his banner weekend with a two-run single up the middle to give the Warriors the lead.
David Murillo (4-0) earned the victory with three innings of perfect relief, striking out five of the nine batters he faced.
“David has been that guy for us all season. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, he gives his best effort every time out,” Robbins said. “It’s good that we’re finding ways to win at this point in the season, but our hitters need to be better going into Western Oregon next weekend.”
The Warriors will make their final road trip of the 2013 season, heading to Monmouth, Ore. for a four-game series with Western Oregon beginning on Friday with a 2 p.m. game.