LEWISTON, Idaho – The Lewis-Clark State College baseball team scored three runs in its final at-bat on Tuesday, defeating The Master’s College 3-2 and advancing to the semifinals of the 2013 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series.
With LCSC down to its final out of the 2013 season, junior outfielder Jake Shirley poked a single through the right side of the infield, scoring pinch-runner Kevin Knapp from second base and setting off a jubilant celebration in front of 1,710 home fans at Harris Field.
Video: Highlights & Postgame Inverviews
The Warriors will be in the semifinals of the Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series for the first time since 2008, which is also the last time that Lewis-Clark State won a national title.
“I can’t even explain it right now,” Shirley said after the game. “It’s just about us never giving up and being resilient.”
The Warrior offense was stifled by Mustang starter James Scott through eight innings, but took advantage of Scott’s fatigue to finally break through in the ninth.
Catcher Kyle Blackwell was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the ninth with the Warriors down 2-0. Will Thorp came on as a courtesy runner for Blackwell, and advanced to second when Eric Peterson drew a walk.
Cody Lavalli, who was 2-for-15 in the tournament entering Tuesday’s game, laid down his first sacrifice bunt of the season to move the runners up to second and third, setting the stage for Lewiston native Kyle Knigge to come to the plate in front of dozens of friends and family members.
“I thrive on that kind of atmosphere,” Knigge said. “I love having all these people here.”
Knigge came through, bouncing a two-run single off the back of the pitcher’s mound and into center field, scoring Thorp and Brian Corliss – pinch-running for Peterson – to tie the game and chase Scott after 128 pitches.
“It’s something you dream about all the time when you grow up in Lewiston,” Knigge said of his clutch World Series hit. “The butterflies still haven’t gone away.”
After the second out of the inning, Jacob Cano was hit by a pitch from reliever Tommy Kister, putting runners on first and second for Shirley, who got a 3-1 two-seam fastball down in the zone that he was able to get down and reach.
David Murillo (5-1) earned the victory with 2.2 innings of relief of starter Seth Haehl, who limited the Mustangs to one run on five hits through 6.1 innings of work.
“Seth allowed us to come back and win this game with his effort today,” Lewis-Clark State coach Jeremiah Robbins said.
Haehl’s start allowed the Warriors to hold ace left-hander Anthony Armanino back for Wednesday’s semifinal. LCSC’s opponent will be determined later Tuesday by the Tournament Committee after the two other scheduled games are completed.
Armanino, who threw 145 pitches on Friday, would be given the option to throw on four days’ rest on Wednesday, Robbins said.
“He’ll make that call,” Robbins said. “If he says he’s ready, he’ll go.”
The Master’s got on the board first in the sixth inning on an RBI single by designated hitter Joe Riddle, and added an unearned run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Chris Talley.