MONMOUTH, Ore. – The fifth-ranked Lewis-Clark State College baseball team got home runs from Cody Lavalli, Ryan Sells and Bobby Joe Tannehill early on, and Sal Arena put in some solid relief out of the bullpen to help the Warriors beat Western Oregon 9-6 on Friday at WOU Baseball Field.
LCSC improved to 35-9 on the season with the victory over the Wolves, an NCAA Division II program. It was the first game of a four-game set at WOU, with a doubleheader coming Saturday followed by the series finale on Sunday.
Anthony Armanino got the win on Friday after seven innings of five-hit ball. He allowed three earned runs, struck out six and walked three in moving to 8-2 on the season.
The Warriors’ senior lefty was staked to an early lead, as Lewis-Clark State scored four times in the top of the first inning off Western Oregon ace Spenser Watkins (6-5).
Lavalli’s team-leading eighth homer, a no-doubt three-run blast to straightaway center field, was the big blow in the frame. The homer scored Tannehill, who laced a one-out single, and Brady Steiger, who was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second.
The home run also extended the hitting streak to 14 games for Lavalli, the reigning NAIA West Player of the Week.
With two outs, Kyle Blackwell singled to left field and scored on an RBI single by Jacob Cano.
Blackwell, like LCSC coach Jeremiah Robbins, was returning to Western Oregon for the first time since moving to Lewis-Clark State to begin this season.
Western Oregon came right back with two runs in the bottom of the first on a two-run homer by Blake Miller, the first home run allowed by Armanino this season.
After Miller’s homer, Armanino settled down as the Warrior offense continued to tack on runs against Watkins.
In the top of the third, Lavalli led off with a single before Sells drove his sixth homer of the season down the left field line to make it 6-2 in favor of the Warriors.
The Wolves added a run in the fourth to make it 6-3, but Tannehill homered off WOU reliever Jesse Pratt in the sixth to help the Warriors regain the four-run lead. The opposite-field blast was the fourth homer of the season for Tannehill.
In the top of the eighth, Lewis-Clark State extended the lead to five runs when Steiger singled up the middle to plate leadoff man Jake Shirley, who alertly advanced to second base on a deep fly out by Tannehill earlier in the inning.
It wound up being an important run, as Western Oregon erupted for three runs in the bottom of the eighth off LCSC reliever David Murillo.
Arena entered the game with one out in the eighth with the bases loaded and two runs in but he struck out pinch-hitter Daniel McNabb for the second out.
Miller singled to left field to drive in the third run of the inning for the Wolves, but further damage was prevented when Blackwell made a great block of home plate to tag out Josh Solemsaas for the final out of the inning.
The Warriors tacked on a critical insurance run in the top of the ninth off Ethan Flory, the third pitcher of the day for Western Oregon.
Blackwell reached on a throwing error, and moved to second when the ball went into the Wolves dugout. After an out, pinch-runner Zach Holley advanced to third on Cano’s fly out, and scored on Tariq Staton’s sharp single up the middle.
It was Staton’s first at-bat of the game after replacing Kevin Knapp in center field in the seventh.
Arena allowed a two-out infield single in the bottom of the ninth, but got pinch-hitter Grant Moscolo to fly out to Lavalli in right to end the game and record his sixth save of the season.
The Warriors and Wolves resume the series with a doubleheader on Saturday, with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.