IRVINE, Calif. — Even though they were gathering plenty of hits, the Lewis-Clark State Warriors weren’t turning many of them into runs. So, Max Whitt and Seth Brown found a more efficient way to score: hit the ball farther.
Whitt and Brown both homered to lead the second-ranked LCSC baseball team to a 7-3 triumph in the second game of a doubleheader against No. 18 Concordia University Irvine on Thursday. Despite notching 10 hits — six more than the Eagles — the Warriors dropped the opener 4-3.
The split moves the Warriors’ record to 6-3 on the season. They now have just two games remaining in their season-opening road trip, which was originally supposed to be 12 games long. It is now a game shorter after LCSC and William Jessup University agreed to move Monday’s contest between the schools to April 16.
Concordia, which won the Avista-NAIA World Series in 2011, is 11-3 following Thursday’s results. The Eagles had won five straight games before LC State claimed the nightcap.
The Warriors finished the doubleheader with 21 hits, 10 more than the Eagles. Whitt, the Warriors’ No. 3 hitter, went 3-for-8 and now has a team-leading four home runs on the season, including a pair of grand slams, to go with a team-high 14 RBIs.
Brown, who is batting .389, is second on the team with three home runs. The junior also collected three hits against Concordia while Michael Sexton, who has nine hits in his last four games, went 4-for-7 at the plate.
It was Matt Becker, however, who got the Warriors’ on the scoreboard in Game 2 with a fielder’s choice in the third inning. Brown then followed with a solo home run in the fourth, driving a 2-2 pitch over the wall for a 2-0 lead.
The bottom of the LC State batting order then set the table for Whitt in the fifth. Raymond Pedrina led off with a double and Zach Holley reached base after Concordia starter Dillon Moran hit him with a pitch. Leadoff hitter Cabe Reiten then singled through the left side of the infield to load the bases.
After Becker hit into a fielder’s choice, which did not result in any runs, Whitt powered the first offering from Moran over the outfield wall, giving the Warriors a 6-0 advantage.
That was more than enough run support for Peter Irvin, who drew the start on the mound for the Warriors. The 6-foot-8 left-handed junior improved to 2-0 on the season after ceding just two runs on four hits and two walks in 5.2 innings.
Nick Sagendorf worked part of the sixth and all of the seventh to earn his first save of the season. The junior did not record any strikeouts, but he also didn’t issue any walks, a problem that has plagued Warrior pitching at times this season.
Ty Jackson, who is batting .419, drove in his 12th run of the season with a single in the top of the seventh while Reiten, who leads the Warriors with a .428 average, went 3-for-4 in the contest.
In Game 1, it was Reiten who knotted the score at 2-all with an RBI groundout in the fifth inning. Concordia had taken the lead in the previous inning when Dane Vande Guchte hit a two-run homer off LCSC starter Quin Grogan.
A right-handed junior, Grogan gave up two more runs in the fifth before being relieved. He surrendered just four hits, but walked five Concordia batters.
After replacing Grogan in the fifth, Dillon Keene held the Eagles without a hit in his four innings of work. The senior’s effort, which included two strikeouts and two walks, was sturdy enough to give the Warriors a chance to fashion another rally.
With LCSC trailing 4-2 entering the ninth, Brown led off the inning with a double to right-center before advancing to third on a groundout. He cut the Warriors’ deficit to one run when he scored on Sexton’s sacrifice fly to left field.
But Concordia closer Tyler Mark quashed the Warrior rally, and collected his fourth save of the season in the process, when he forced Pedrina to groundout to third for the final out.
The Warriors road trip continues Friday with another game at Cal State San Marcos, which bested the Warriors 10-3 yesterday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.
Athletic Operations/Assistant SID
Lewis-Clark State College