The No. 2-ranked Lewis-Clark State College baseball team opened the 2015 season with a split on Friday in southern Idaho at the Treasure Valley Tournament. The Warriors fell 13-6 after their bullpen unraveled against Concordia (Ore.) in Caldwell, but then travelled 20 minutes south to Nampa and defeated Northwest Nazarene 5-4 thanks to a two-run single by Seth Brown in the ninth.
LC State, which is seeking its 17th national title after finishing as runner-up the past two seasons at the Avista-NAIA World Series, tallied 24 hits on the day. Its 14 hits against Concordia could not make up for the seven runs surrendered in the seventh, but its 10 hits against NNU were just enough to give the Warriors’ their first win of the year.
Brown’s game-winning single came with one out and the bases loaded. The junior first baseman’s bullet through the right side undid a 3-3 knot and gave the Warriors enough cushion to escape a scare in the bottom of the inning.
Northwest Nazarene, an NCAA D-II school, took advantage of two Warrior errors to quickly plate a run and make it 5-4 in the final frame. The Crusaders then used a walk and two singles to load the bases with two outs. The final out came when a pitch in the dirt from Warrior closer Joe Mello slipped under the glove of catcher Chadwick Kaalekahi. The NNU runner broke late and was tagged out by the pitcher about five feet short of home plate.
Thanks to the play at the plate, Mello earned his first save of the year, while Dillon Keene took the win with three scoreless innings in relief. Starter Quin Grogan had a decent outing, going five innings with six strikeouts while surrendering just four hits and two earned runs. The junior right-hander held the Crusaders scoreless for the first four frames.
Designated hitter Ty Jackson led the game with three hits and an RBI, while right fielder Matt Becker was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Shortstop Max Whitt hit the only home run of the game, a solo shot to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead in the first.
Lewis-Clark State started out strong against Concordia as well, leading 4-0 in the third, but struggled in middle relief as the Cavaliers added a combined 10 runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh. The ill-fated seventh inning included five Concordia hits, two walks, and two hit batsmen.
Concordia had six players with multi-hit games including designated hitter Jarren Goddard who was 4-for-4 with two doubles, two runs, and two RBIs. Catcher Nate Esposito was 3-for-6 with three runs batted in.
Five Warriors; Cabe Reiten, Whitt, Jackson, Brown, and Andris Rizquez; had two hits in the season-opener. LC State left nine men on base.
Brad Bearden, who pitched 3.2 scoreless relief innings for the Cavaliers, took the win, while LCSC’s Adrian Martinez was tabbed with the loss. The Warriors used four pitchers in the game and gave up 18 hits, five walks, and four hit batsmen.
In what is the longest road trip to start a season in program history, the Warriors continue their 12-game trek with a 1 p.m., Pacific, tilt against No. 24 British Columbia in Caldwell on Friday. They’ll wrap up the five-team tournament, co-hosted by the College of Idaho and NNU, with a 9:30 a.m. game against the Yotes on Sunday.
LC State will then head straight to California for eight games in seven days from Feb. 10-16.
Sports Information Director &
Asst. Director of College Communications
Lewis-Clark State College
Lewiston, Idaho 83501