LEWISTON, Idaho -- The second-seeded Lee (Tenn.) Flames came out on the winning end of a slugfest with No. 7 seed Lewis-Clark State College, taking the winner’s bracket matchup 14-11 before 4,790 fans on Saturday evening at Harris Field.
The game punctuated the second day of competition at the 2013 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series.
The win, which featured four lead changes, 25 combined runs and 27 combined hits, sent Lee (50-10) into a winner’s bracket matchup with No. 3 seed Embry-Riddle on Monday at 6:30 p.m. PDT.
Lewis-Clark State (42-14) drops into the loser’s bracket, and will take on No. 4 seeded Northwood (Texas) in an elimination game at noon on Monday.
“It was a good battle between two good teams,” Lewis-Clark State coach Jeremiah Robbins said. “They’re a very good club, and they got key hits at the back end of the game that we didn’t get.”
The contest between two NAIA baseball heavyweights turned into a battle of the bullpens early on, as neither team’s starting pitcher made it beyond the fourth inning.
Lewis-Clark State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by senior catcher Kyle Blackwell, but Lee immediately answered back with six runs in the top of the second, taking advantage of a Warrior error to jump-start the rally.
Unfazed, LCSC fought back from the four-run deficit, chasing Lee starter Myles Smith with a six-spot of its own in the bottom of the third to retake the lead 8-6. Smith lost his command in the frame, hitting two batters to force in one run and walking home another.
It was Lewis-Clark State starter Carsen Nylund’s turn to make an early exit in the fourth inning, exiting with arm tightness after giving up a two-out walk to Danny Canela that loaded the bases. Designated hitter Corey Davis cleared them with a triple down the right field line to greet reliever Garrett Wilson as the Flames regained a 9-8 advantage.
It was Wilson’s first appearance since March 20 against Webber International (Fla.) ending a nine-week layoff due a shoulder injury.
That lead widened to 10-8 in the fifth on a mammoth home run by Lee first baseman Karsten Strieby, his third of the season. The solo shot cleared the fence in straightaway center field.
The Warriors fought back yet again in the bottom of the fifth, tying the game back up at 10 apiece after an RBI single by Bobby Joe Tannehill and another run-scoring knock off the bat of first baseman Eric Peterson.
“We didn’t lay down,” Robbins said. “We wanted to get that starting guy (Smith) out of the game, but we have to tip our hat to their bullpen.”
It would be the last advantage Lewis-Clark State would enjoy, as Canela greeted Sal Arena, the third Warrior pitcher of the night, with a two-run homer to right-center in the sixth. The Flames also added two more runs in the seventh off Arena.
“They hit some tough pitches. Canela’s home run was a good pitch down in the zone that he went down to get and ran out of the yard,” Robbins said.
LCSC got one run in the eighth off Lee closer Andy Hillis, who had allowed just two runs in 28 appearances all season, but the 6-foot-7 Hillis slammed the door in the ninth.
Keegan Yool (4-1) worked four innings of relief to earn the victory for Lee, while Arena dropped to 1-4 after surrendering three runs on six hits in 3.2 innings of work.
Canela went 3-for-4 with four RBI for the Falmes, and Josh Silver also had three base hits, driving in three.
Jake Shirley and Tannehill each had three-hit days atop the Lewis-Clark State batting order.
The Warriors now look ahead to Memorial Day and Northwood, which got a no-hitter from Cody Faulkner in the first game on Saturday to stay alive in the tournament.
“We talked with the guys about moving forward,” Robbins said. “I feel pretty good about where our pitching is at, and even though we put up some runs tonight I think we could have done more offensively to pick our pitchers up. We have to be resilient now and focus on playing the Warrior baseball we’ve instilled in our guys all year.”