Warriors rough up Thunderbirds with long ball

CALDWELL, Idaho — It may only be early February, but the Lewis-Clark State baseball team has already faced the type of pitcher it usually only sees at the end May. And if Saturday’s result is any indication, the Warriors should like their chances when the latter part of the season does roll around.

The second-ranked Warriors bashed five home runs in a 21-2 triumph over No. 24 British Columbia on Saturday in the Treasure Valley Tournament at Wolfe Field. LCSC junior Max Whitt led the barrage with two homers, including a grand slam, and six RBIs. The game ended in the seventh due to the mercy rule.

Making the Warriors’ win even more impressive was the fact it came against Thunderbird lefty Conor Lillis-White, one of the best pitchers in the country. Last season, the senior, who boasts a World Series-caliber arm according to LC State coach Jeremiah Robbins, led the NAIA with a 0.46 ERA.

Lillis-White lasted just 4.1 innings against the Warriors, ceding 11 runs — all of them earned — on eight hits and seven walks. He did record nine strikeouts, but faced 28 batters in the process.

The Warriors didn’t waste any time roughing up Lillis-White, either, launching their initial salvo in the bottom of the first inning. After leadoff hitter Raymond Pedrina drew a walk, Cabe Reiten powered a home run to right-center field, giving LC State a 2-0 lead.

LCSC plated three more scores in the second inning, which began with a single by Michael Sexton. Following a Zach Holley walk and a single by Matt Becker, Reiten drove in another run with a bases-loaded walk. Ty Jackson then lashed a two-run single up the middle.

Lillis-White appeared to settle down in the third, retiring three of the four batters he faced, but the Warriors responded in the fourth frame. Whitt, a transfer from Everett Community College, lashed a two-run homer to right-center field, giving LC State a 7-0 advantage.

The Warriors chased the Thunderbirds’ ace from the game early in the fifth after drawing three walks and scoring two more runs on a Pedrina single. Lillis-White’s replacement, Brad Smith, didn’t fare much better.

Smith hit the first batter he faced, loading the bases, before Whitt, who went 2-for-4 from the No. 3 hole, sailed a home run to left-center field to give LC State a 13-0 lead. It was Whitt’s second homer of the game and third of the season.

The Warriors then drew another walk, one of nine ceded by T-Bird pitchers, before Seth Brown sent another ball out of the park, this one clearing the wall in right field. The Warriors managed just three hits in the inning, but scored eight runs.

LC State’s fifth and final home run came in the sixth, when pinch hitter Dylan Tashjian mashed a three-run shot to right field. It was the last of the Warriors’ 12 hits in the game.

Ten Warriors collected a hit while two, Whitt and Reiten, finished with multiple base knocks. Pedrina, Reiten and Becker all scored three runs apiece.

Junior pitcher Peter Irvin earned the win after tossing five scoreless innings in his LCSC debut. The 6-foot-8 left-hander surrendered just two hits and a pair of walks to go with four strikeouts.

The Warriors, now 2-1 on the young season, conclude the tournament Sunday when they play the College of Idaho. First pitch is set for 9:30 a.m. PST.

Matt Breach

Athletic Operations/Assistant SID

Lewis-Clark State College

Office: 208-792-2492

Cell: 208-790-6859