LEWISTON, Idaho – The Lewis-Clark State College baseball advanced beyond Memorial Day in the Avista-NAIA World Series for the first time in four years on Monday, eliminating Northwood (Texas) in a 9-5 victory.
The Warriors, whose tournament record improved to 2-1 and overall mark bumped up to 43-14, will advance to play the loser of the game between Faulkner and The Master’s in the first game on Tuesday.
First pitch for that game is scheduled for noon.
The Warriors got off to a big start with the bats against Northwood (44-13), scoring in each of their first three turns at bat to take a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning.
The Knights battled back, tying the game at four in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Lewis-Clark State came up with three huge insurance runs in the top of the eighth to close the game out.
“All we’ve talked about is just winning the day, and not looking too far in advance,” LCSC coach Jeremiah Robbins said. “It was a gutty effort by our guys today. It wasn’t pretty at times but we found a way.”
Steve Thompson moved to 5-5 on the season after working six innings on the mound for the Warriors. The junior right-hander scattered five hits, struck out five and walked four. He allowed four runs, but only two were earned.
“All three of our starts in the Series have been heart attacks at points, but Steve figured it out,” Robbins said.
David Murillo allowed three hits and one run in the eighth inning, but Garrett Wilson worked a scoreless 1.2 innings to earn his first save of the season. Wilson also worked in relief on Saturday, his first action since March 20.
The Warriors got a huge offensive lift from senior shortstop Bobby Joe Tannehill, who went 5-for-6 with a double, an RBI and a run scored against the Knights.
Tannehill (pictured right) became the first LCSC player to have five hits in an NAIA World Series game since Pat Mackey set the all-time Series record with six hits against Grand Canyon in 1987.
“The first two games I was a little nervous in my first at-bats, and it showed,” Tannehill said. “I really wanted to come into my first at-bat today confident, and build from there.”
The bottom three hitters in the Warrior order – Sako Chapjian, Kyle Knigge and Jacob Cano – combined to go 6-for-12 with five RBI against Northwood pitching.
“Those three spots went 0-for-12 against Lee, so it’s something we needed to address,” Robbins said.
That trio was responsible for the three eighth-inning runs that put LCSC ahead to stay.
With two outs and a run already in thanks to a sacrifice fly by Eric Peterson, Chapjian and Knigge hit consecutive RBI singles to drive in pinch-runners Zach Holley and Kevin Knapp.
It was the back-breaker for Northwood, which went home with a 1-2 record at the 2013 Avista-NAIA World Series.
“If you think you’re going to be able to take a punch in the gut early from a team that’s that good and fundamental, you’re just not living in reality,” Northwood coach Jeremy Kennedy said of Lewis-Clark State. “We had some things that didn’t go our way, but we didn’t execute on the chances that we had. We put ourselves in a position to win if things had broken differently.”
The Warriors, however, will go on fighting through the bracket.
“There’s just no quit in this dugout,” Tannehill said. “We’ve gone through so much this year that nobody wants to see this end, no matter what.”