COMPTON, Calif. — Not only did Robert Smith Jr. provide productive hits, they were timely. The slugger drove in five runs, two coming on the game-winning single in the ninth, to lift the second-ranked Lewis-Clark State baseball team to a 7-5 victory over Bethesda on Saturday afternoon.
Smith, a transfer from Chabot College, finished 4-for-4 at the plate. Besides the decisive base knock in the final inning, he also drilled a three-run homer, his first of the season and one of two on the day for the Warriors.
The win not only bumps the Warriors’ record to 8-3, it concludes their 11-game road trip, the longest to start a season in a school history. The Warriors will finally get to christen newly refurbished Harris Field on Friday, when they open a four-game series with Western Oregon.
Before the Warriors could start their trek home from California, however, they had to sneak past a pesky Bethesda squad. Midway through the game, that didn’t seem like it would be a problem.
The Warriors broke open a scoreless contest with a five-run burst in the sixth inning. Dylan Tashjian led off the inning with his second home run of the year, a solo shot to right field. Three batters later, Smith lifted a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left for his first homer of the season, giving the Warriors a 4-0 lead.
The next batter, Chase Hafer, lashed one of his two hits in the game, a single, and eventually came around to score on a single to center by Andris Rizquez. In all, the Warriors tallied five hits in the inning.
Despite ending up with a no decision, LCSC starter Adrian Martinez stymied the Flames. The junior right-hander scattered four hits and one walk over five scoreless innings.
While the Flames could not rattle Martinez, they rallied against Warrior reliever Cameron Pongs. The lefty gave up five scores, including four earned runs, on four hits and a walk over the sixth and seventh innings. Christopher Jacobs kick-started Bethesda’s comeback when he smashed a three-run homer in the sixth.
The Flames then knotted the score at 5-all in the next inning when Daniel Juarez added an RBI double and Esau Madrigal singled up the middle.
Colton Wright, who replaced Pongs to start the eighth, finally silenced the Bethesda bats. The senior ceded just one walk and did not allow a hit in his two innings on the mound to help set the stage for Smith and the Warriors in the top of the ninth.
Cabe Reiten, who extended his hit streak to 11 games with a single in the third, reached base via a Bethesda error to start the inning. Following a pair of groundouts, Julian Ramon drew a walk to give Smith another at-bat. Smith then mashed a two-out single to give the Warriors a 7-5 advantage.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Flames did manage to bring the tying run to the plate when Wright plunked a batter. But the LCSC hurler, who earned his first win of the season, responded by forcing Madrigal to ground out to short to end the game.
After spending the last week-plus on the road, the Warriors finally get to come back to Lewiston. Friday’s home opener against Western Oregon, which just happens to be the former team of LCSC coach Jeremiah Robbins, starts at 2 p.m. It will air on 950 KOZE-AM.
Athletic Operations/Assistant SID
Lewis-Clark State College