EL CAJON, Calif. — After rallying for a stunning come-from-behind victory in the first game of a doubleheader, the Lewis-Clark State baseball team nearly found out how it felt to be on the other end in the next game. But the Warriors, it turns out, had enough grit left over to win that one as well.
The second-ranked Warriors scored seven times in the ninth inning of Game 1 to pilfer a 9-4 win over San Diego Christian College on Tuesday. Then, after nearly blowing a six-run lead, they held on for a 7-6 triumph in the second game.
LC State improves to 5-1 following the sweep while San Diego Christian, an Aivsta-NAIA World Series qualifier a year ago, falls to 3-10.
Despite playing in sunny Southern California, the opening game of this doubleheader featured a bit of a gloomy start for the Warriors. In the first inning alone, they committed an error and their starting pitcher, Ty Jackson, ceded two runs following a pair of bases-loaded walks.
But Jackson settled into a nice groove following his first-inning struggles, retiring the next nine batters. The right-handed junior finished with seven strikeouts and allowed only two hits and four walks before being relieved in the sixth.
Still, the Warriors continued to hurt themselves with miscues. They committed errors in both the sixth and seventh innings that led to runs, giving San Diego Christian a 4-1 lead.
The Warriors, to that point anyway, also failed to take advantage of the numerous offensive opportunities they created. They had at least one hit or, at the very least, a baserunner in every inning but one, yet they stranded nine runners.
Part of LC State’s inability to cash in offensively was due, in no small part, to Anthony Carrizosa. The San Diego Christian starter yielded only five hits and two walks in seven innings on the mound. The only run the right-hander surrendered came on a sacrifice fly in the fourth by the Warriors’ Seth Brown.
Once Carrizosa left in the eighth, however, the Warrior bats came to life. LCSC sliced the deficit in half, at 4-2, when Chadwick Ka’alekahi recorded the first of two clutch hits, a run-scoring single ripped down the left field line.
After capitalizing on LC State’s miscues early in the game, the Hawks returned the favor in the ninth, committing three errors of their own. The second gaffe, a drop by the center fielder, allowed Robert Smith Jr. to score from third, cutting the margin to 4-3.
Four batters and two outs later, Ka’alekahi punched a two-run single through the hole at short, giving the Warriors their first lead of the game at 5-4. The next batter, Michael Sexton, drove in two more runs with a single to right. The sophomore broke out of his early-season slump, collecting three hits, including a double, in his five at-bats.
Smith, who led off the inning, concluded LC State’s rally with a two-run double, one of four extra-base hits notched by LCSC in the game. The Warriors sent 11 batters to the plate during the decisive surge, recording seven runs on four hits and those three San Diego Christian errors.
Nick Sagendorf pocketed the win for the Warriors after throwing two innings of relief. The junior right-hander did not allow a hit or a walk while recording four strikeouts.
Jameson Nieto, one of four relievers used by the Hawks, suffered the loss after recording just one out and surrendering three runs, all of them earned, on three hits and a walk. He was on the mound when Ka’alekahi, who went 2-for-5 with three RBI, belted what proved to be the game-winning hit.
After rallying for the win in the opener, LC State had to hold off a San Diego Christian rally in Game 2. The Warriors raced to a 6-0 lead before the Hawks generated a five-run surge in the fifth inning. The Hawks sent 10 batters to the plate during the frame and tallied six hits, including four doubles, three of which produced runs.
But Dillon Keene came in and quashed any hopes for a Hawks’ comeback. The senior right-hander tossed 1.1 innings of scoreless relief before giving way to closer Joe Mello, who, despite ceding a run in the seventh due to an error, earned his second save of the season.
The Warriors built their early advantage mostly with Jackson’s bat. He produced an RBI double in the first before launching a two-run homer, his first of the season, to left field in the third inning.
Jackson was one of four Warriors with multiple hits. Others included Brown, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI triple in the first, and Cabe Reiten, who belted two doubles, one of which gave the Warriors a 5-0 lead in the fourth.
Max Whitt, who also finished with two hits in his three at-bats, put LCSC up 6-0 when he bashed a two-out single to right in the top of the fourth inning. It was one of 11 base knocks recorded by the Warriors.
LC State starter Dakota Cortese held the Hawks scoreless during his three innings on the mound. The 6-foot-7 lefty, who earned the win, allowed just four hits and two walks to go with three strikeouts.
Most of San Diego Christian’s success at the plate came against reliever Adrian Martinez, who, after retiring the Hawks in order in the fourth, failed to make it through the fifth.
The Warriors tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Matt Becker scored following a Julian Ramon double. That run proved vital because the Hawks scored an unearned run following an error by Whitt at short.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, the Hawks actually moved the tying run to third base, and had the winning run at first. But Mello induced a groundout to end the game, sending the Warriors to their fifth straight win.
The Warriors continue their 12-game road trip, the longest to begin a season in school history, Wednesday when they play at Cal State San Marcos. That game starts at 1 p.m. and will air on 950 KOZE-AM.
Athletic Operations/Assistant SID
Lewis-Clark State College