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Lewis-Clark State baseball downs British Columbia to advance in Opening Round

May 14—The last two times the Lewis-Clark State baseball team was on Harris Field, they led 2-1 heading into the final three innings. On May 4, Bushnell put up seven runs in the seventh and ended up winning the game and Cascade Conference championship.

The second time it was the Warriors who found themselves on the right end of an offensive spurt in the NAIA Opening Round, presented by Avista, on Monday.

LCSC downed the British Columbia Thunderbirds 8-1 in front of a packed crowd at Harris Field to advance in the winner's bracket of the Opening Round. The Warriors put up six runs in the eighth inning to help secure the win. They will play the Arizona Christian Firestorm at 2:30 p.m. today.

"We knew coming in — it's just the law of averages," LCSC coach Jake Taylor said. "It's really hard to beat a team 10 times in a row, let alone the caliber of British Columbia. So we knew it was going to be one of our toughest games, especially down the stretch, let alone to start the (Opening Round). ... It was a great start today."

LCSC's 10th win this season against UBC came courtesy of some of the usual suspects, chief among them one of the Warriors' breakout pitchers: Shane Spencer.

Spencer, Smith lead the efforts

Spencer has been no stranger to long outings this season and Monday was no different.

The senior from Las Vegas struck out two batters in 7 1/3 innings of work. He allowed 10 hits, but let up no walks and no free bases. The win improved his record to 7-1 on the year.

The Warriors' senior reliever Cam Smith took the mound in the eighth and struck out four UBC batters in his 1 2/3 innings on the bump. Smith got out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the ninth, giving him his seventh save of the season.

"During the game, I was just telling myself 'this is where I want to be. I want to be out there,'" Smith said. "I want to go help this team win. We've played (UBC) a bunch of times. I know their hitters. I kind of know their familiarities — what they like to see and what they don't like. (I) used that a little bit to the advantage. But other than that, I just kept telling myself 'Make a pitch when I'm out there and go out there and have fun.' It's baseball."

The Thunderbirds' have played six of their 10 games against LCSC this season at Harris Field. At this point, the only team the Warriors know better than UBC is themselves.

In a game where it seemed like the scales could tip toward either side at any moment, it was the home team that took advantage of that familiarity.

L-C phones home

LCSC had a 2-1 lead for several innings. The go-ahead run came in the bottom of the fourth, courtesy of a solo-shot home run from senior first baseman Jake Gish.

After that point, both teams had innings where they couldn't find their way out of the batters box. There were other innings where runners got on, but home plate might as well have been a mile away instead of the usual 90 feet. In the eighth inning, the Warriors made home plate seem like it was one foot away.

The Thunderbirds' Ryan Heppner relieved starter Vicarte Domingo after the latter's seven innings pitched. Heppner wasn't able to make it through the side.

UBC's top reliever gave up two hits and allowed five runs, all earned, without recording an out. Tyson Kilbreath relieved Heppner in the eighth and gave up another score before the Thunderbirds got out of the inning.

Gish had his second RBI of the day with a double and junior outfielder Brandon Cabrera followed two at-bats later with a two-score single. Senior infielder Magnum Hofstetter gave L-C its fourth run of the frame with a sacrifice fly. Senior outfielder Carter Booth put up a one-run single and senior infielder Pu'ukani De Sa capped off the scoring by stealing home.

The Warriors made it through the entire lineup before the inning ended. When the ninth rolled around, LCSC had the eventual final score of 8-1.

"I think everybody just started having fun," Gish said. "It's a close game, it's hard. Nerves getting to people. But one guy shows us what we need to do, then next guy up, then it keeps going."

The win also gave the Warriors some much-needed momentum going into today against a red-hot (pun intended) Firestorm team.

The desert comes to Lewiston

In an interview on Sunday, Taylor said that LCSC shouldn't be looking for extra motivation at this point in the season coming off the loss to Bushnell.

The Warriors may not need the extra motivation to keep its 20-plus NAIA World Series streak intact, but momentum definitely doesn't hurt.

The Firestorm downed No. 21 Oklahoma City by a score of 10-3 earlier on Monday. Arizona Christian was one of the most prolific offenses in the Golden State Athletic Conference during the second half of the regular season. The Firestorm have kept the bats hot during the postseason (7.5 runs per game).

The coaching staffs of LCSC and Arizona Christian have developed a relationship with each other over the last couple of seasons. The Firestorm hosted the East/West Challenge at the beginning of the year, which the Warriors competed in.

"Just watching (Arizona Christian on Monday), they improved a ton," Taylor said. "Every team would like to think from the start of the year to the end of the year they've continued to improve. Those guys — they played hot today. They were really good. So we're going to have to match the intensity tomorrow and be ready to go."

But today, any relationship will be set aside for the sake of taking one step closer to the Avista NAIA World Series.

LCSC's solid offensive outing on Monday might give it the edge against an Arizona Christian team currently riding its own wave of momentum.

BRITISH COLUMBIA LEWIS-CLARK STATE

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Young c 5 0 2 0 Booth cf 5 0 1 1

Boomer pr/dh 1 1 0 0 Seamons lf 4 1 1 0

Marsh 3b 5 0 3 0 Signorelli ss 3 1 0 0

Lenihan 1b 5 0 1 0 Rivera ss 0 0 0 0

McGill dh 4 0 2 0 Gish 1b 3 3 2 2

Middlemiss rf 4 0 2 0 Updegrave dh 3 1 1 0

Anderson lf 4 0 0 0 Cabrera rf 3 1 2 3

Rose 2b 3 0 0 0 De Sa 3b 3 1 2 0

Yip ph 0 0 0 0 Marquez c 3 0 0 0

Zarowny cf 4 0 1 0 Ephan c 1 0 0 0

Hofstetter 2b 3 0 1 1

Totals 39 1 12 0 Totals 31 8 10 7

British Columbia 100 000 000—1 12 0

Lewis-Clark State 010 100 06x—8 10 1

British Columbia ip h r er bb so

Domingo (L, 2-4) 7.0 7 2 2 2 5

Heppner 0.0 2 5 5 1 0

Kilbreath 1.0 1 1 1 1 0

Lewis-Clark State ip h r er bb so

Spencer (W, 7-1) 7.1 10 1 1 0 2

Smith (S, 7) 1.2 2 0 0 0 4

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