HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: Lewiston Bengals out-duel Clarkston Bantams in pitching battle

Mar. 10—When the Lewiston and Clarkston baseball teams took the diamond at Harris Field on Saturday, it was the latest installment of a storied history of the sport in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley.

Two of the best examples of that legacy were honored before the game:

Lewiston High School graduate Riley Way and Clarkston High School alum AJ Davis. Davis was unable to attend, but Way came back to the field where he and Davis played college baseball with Lewis-Clark State to throw the first pitch.

After the opening ceremony, the Bengals and the Bantams proceeded to engage in a good ol' fashioned pitching duel — which Lewiston won 2-0.

"This is one of the biggest games that we had in high school," Way said. "So coming out here and doing this, it's great. Great day for baseball and I'm excited for the rivalry to continue. ... I loved every second of (playing for LCSC). Being out here and being a Warrior was a great experience. And being a local guy, I loved every second of being here."

The game was the first between the cross-river rivals at Harris Field in several years, and was befitting for the most storied sports venue in the valley.

Pitchers take center stage

After a successful few years guided by travel ball and American Legion-tested seniors, the Bengals (2-0) this season are led primarily by underclassmen who are inexperienced at high school baseball. The bulk of Lewiston's veteran leadership is in its pitching staff. And it showed.

Bengals senior starting pitcher Carson Kolb brought in the first run of the game in the top of the first with an RBI single that scored sophomore Tucker Green.

After he accounted for what would be the only run through the first act of the contest, Kolb and Clarkston (0-1) starter Trace Green brought out their best stuff.

In front of former Lewis-Clark State and valley athletic greats like Jack Johnson, Zach Threlfall, Aidan Nagle and the aforementioned Way, among other others, Kolb and Green showed out with near-masterclasses on the hill.

Both starters went five innings. Kolb struck out 14-of-18 batters faced and Trace Green retired seven out of the 18 Lewiston players who stepped to the dish against him. Kolb allowed no hits, no runs and walked just one in his outing while Trace Green let up two hits and one unearned run while walking two.

The two combined to strike out 58% of the total batters they faced.

"We knew it was going to be a battle," Clarkston coach Bruce Bensching said. "The team that got the first runs on the board (was going to have the advantage). But Carson was great tonight. He battled, And Hayden was great tonight; Trace was great tonight. Our pitching, we're going to have some good guys. ... Two years ago when we played (Lewiston) it was 24-11, today it was 2-0. We're making strides against a pretty good team. We're not going to face guys like Carson very often. But if we do, we've got to get better."

The two starters dueled until both were pulled before the sixth. In relief, sophomore Guy Krasselt allowed just one hit and no runs while striking out 3-of-7 batters faced for the Bengals. He earned the save for his two innings out of the bullpen.

The Idaho-based squad's no-no was disrupted after a single by Trace Green in the bottom of the sixth.

Hayden Line also pitched well in relief for the Bantams, but one of his few blemishes helped seal the victory for Lewiston.

Late run, missed opportunities seals it

In the top of the sixth, Tucker Green opened with a triple to right field to immediately set the Bengals up in a scoring position. With the game going at the pace it had, even one more run had the potential of being the game-sealer.

One at-bat later, Krasselt advanced to first and Tucker Green was brought home after an error on the throw attributed to Line.

The Clarkston reliever ended up facing a bases-loaded situation with two outs later in the same frame. He kept a cool head and a fly-out hit by Mason Way (Riley Way's younger brother) got Line out of the jam.

The Bantams left Trace Green on base in their half of the sixth.

In the bottom of the seventh, Clarkston had the potential to get two on base with no outs. Lewiston turned a 6-4-3 double play and Krasselt struck out Jacob Stewart one at-bat later to secure the two-run win.

"For us (the key to winning) is winning the freebie war," said Lewiston coach Darren Trainor, another former L-C baseball player. "We call it the 'freebie war': walks, hit by pitch, error. If we can win that on defense, we think we have enough offensive pieces to just scrap away and apply pressure on the other team. We won it in both games this weekend, so that was the key. And that's going to be our team. We're going to be scrappy and high-energy."

Valley's legacy of baseball lives on

From the first pitch by Way, the pregame acknowledgements, the faces in the crowd, the venue and the players on the field — the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley's legacy of baseball could not have seen better representation.

Baseball is kneaded into the framework of the valley's athletics and to the community as a whole. Having the baseball game between the Bengals and Bantams return to Harris Field highlighted that better than anything else could sans the Avista NAIA World Series.

"Real grateful for (LCSC coach Jake) Taylor for allowing us to use the field," Trainor said. "We've been trying to grow this game up a little bit and we have a ton of respect for coach Bensching and the Clarkston crew over there. It was a great ball game today. It shows what the Valley has and we're growing the game here in the Valley, so that's an exciting part."

The rivalry between the two border-dwelling foes has been in hibernation over the past couple of years — either not happening at all or being played in locations aside from Harris Field.

But the performance of both teams and the level of community support on Saturday have shown that this rivalry is more than awake. And it's ready for the next chapters to be written.

Lewiston 100 001 0—2 4 0

Clarkston 000 000 0—0 1 3

Carson Kolb, Guy Krasselt (6) and Austin Topp; Trace Green, Hayden Line (6) and Emmett Slagg. W—Kolb; L—Green; S—Krasselt.

Lewiston hits — Kolb 2 (2B), Tucker Green (3B), Wiley Wagner.

Clarkston hit — Trace Green.

Kowatsch can be contacted at 208-848-2268, or on Twitter @Teren_Kowatsch.