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Lewis-Clark State baseball starts season with pair of top-10 wins at Arizona tournament

Feb. 2—MESA, Ariz. — For the last two weeks, the Lewis-Clark State baseball team has been unable to practice due to inclement weather and temperatures at its home of Harris Field in Lewiston.

But it ended up not mattering.

The Warriors opened their season with two wins against top-10 opponents. The first was a 13-7 decision over the No. 6 Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs and the second a 4-3 victory over the No. 7 Bellevue Bruins. Both games were part of the East/West Challenge on Thursday at Gene Autry Park in Mesa, Ariz.

The early nonconference season has often been the time for LCSC (2-0) to take on some of the toughest competition the NAIA has to offer. Meeting that competition head on and succeeding sets the Warriors up with an early, high benchmark.

"This is why we schedule these games," LCSC coach Jake Taylor said. "It's good for us to be in that environment early in the year. We looked a little rusty, but I liked the way we competed. We came back twice (against Bellevue) and held on for the win (against Tennessee Wesleyan). So all-in-all, a positive day."

Here's how Thursday's season-opening contests played out:

Familiar faces lead the way

One area of the Warriors' roster talked about in the offseason was the new additions to the roster, specifically the pitching staff. LCSC added eight new arms, but it was the returners who led the way on the mound against the Bulldogs and the Bruins.

Junior right-hander Drake George earned the first start of the season for the Warriors and, in front of a surprising amount of at least three dozen well-traveled LCSC fans, performed well. He pitched 4 2/3 innings and struck out seven of the 19 batters he faced while only allowing three hits.

The offense rewarded George's effort and put up 10 runs through five innings. The starter in Game 2, senior righty Jace Hanson, held Bellevue to just two runs in 4 2/3 innings pitched.

"It was good to get the first start," George said. "Obviously you have those nerves at the start of the game and the start of the season. But you go back to your training and your preparation back from the fall and the winter. And you finally get to face live competition. It feels great to be able to execute on the first day."

Senior left fielder Nick Seamons started the scoring and knocked in a three-RBI triple in the top of the second.

Senior third baseman Dominic Signorelli had another highlight, hitting the first home run of the season for the Warriors — a two-run shot to right field in the top of the ninth that gave L-C its final runs of the game.

Tennessee Wesleyan (0-2) put up two runs in the seventh to avoid getting mercy-ruled, and saved its best effort for last.

When George was relieved, the Bulldogs put up seven combined runs against junior relievers Jantzen Lucas (two) and Zach Ediger (five) from the fifth through ninth innings.

The early lead was too much for Tennessee Wesleyan to dig itself out and sophomore Gonzaga transfer Kolby Solomon got the final three outs in the bottom of the ninth for the win.

Homecoming goes well

Another takeaway from Thursday's games was the performance of junior Charleston Southern transfer Ike George.

Ike George was in the lineup at shortstop in Game 1 and was the designated hitter in Game 2, and played well in both roles.

The Bishop Kelly High School alum played two years of college ball at Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix before transferring to Charleston Southern, where he played one season in 2023. Thursday was the first time George has played competitive organized baseball for an Idaho-based school since his high school sophomore year (his last two seasons were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). This made Thursday a sort of double-homecoming for George — a return to the area he started his collegiate career and a return to playing for a school based in his home state.

"It's exciting," Ike George said. "I was super excited. Jacked to be back in Arizona playing for L-C. Everyone in Idaho knows L-C for baseball. They know the culture, they know 19 national championships, trying to get 20. There's just a bunch of gritty players here — something you want to play for. And being back here, it's nice weather and everything, so it's real nice."

George registered three hits in eight total at-bats on the day, was walked once and scored four times in his Warriors debut.

His stature (listed at 5-foot-9) and Ricky Henderson-esque stance led to such a small strike zone that none of the eight opposing pitchers struck him out. He also made an impact running up the pitch count several times over the course of his at-bats.

LCSC ends day with comeback

Before LCSC ended its day, it had to complete a comeback in a much lower-scoring Game 2 against No. 7 Bellevue (1-2).

The game was slow-moving through the first couple of innings until the Bruins broke through with an RBI double by Alec Ackerman in the third and a sac hit by Tradd Richardson in the top of the fourth to go up 2-0.

Junior Charlie Updegrave hit an RBI single to score Seamons and give the Warriors their first run of the game. A Seamons RBI double and sac fly by Updegrave in the bottom of the sixth (again scoring Seamons) brought L-C to its first lead of the day, a 3-2 advantage.

Seamons finished with five RBI, two doubles and a triple on Thursday.

Ackerman brought the game back even at 3-3 in the top of the ninth and Updegrave, with two outs and runners on first and second, hit a walk-off RBI single, his fourth runner brought in for the day, to give the Warriors the win.

Takeaways

LCSC adjusted its lineup heavily from Game 1 to Game 2. In part to get a look at other players and also to account for injuries, namely to defending World Series MVP senior Isaiah Thomas, who is still nursing a shoulder injury but got two at-bats before being pinch hit by catcher/infielder Jakob Marquez.

The two lineups produced different results, but both worked.

Odds are the lineup will be slightly tweaked again today against No. 1 Southeastern, but the results are still an improvement from a season ago when the team was dominated by youth and still developing at the 2023 East/West Challenge.

"I think the biggest thing between last year's team from the beginning to the end and, this year's team with the potential that we have, is the new guys that came in last year heard words about what L-C was about, and what people come at us with and the target on our heads we have," Updegrave said. "I think now, returning everyone minus one from our starting nine last year, everyone got a taste of what the World Series is like, what the teams down here are like and the competition we're going to see at the end (of the season) and the competition we're going to see during the season. There's a big difference in the competition we see at the beginning and end and during the middle. So, I think the biggest thing is everyone knows what's ahead of us, and what's to come in the end and what it's like to lose on the biggest stage. And I think that's the biggest thing is everyone's holding that little chip in them."

Players of the day

Drake George pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out seven out of 19 batters faced.

Seamons registered four hits, five RBI and scored four times in 10 at-bats.

Up next

No. 3 Lewis-Clark State plays No. 1 Southeastern (Fla.) at 6:15 p.m. at Greenway High School in Phoenix.

LEWIS-CLARK STATE TENNESSEE WESLEYAN

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Booth cf 3 3 1 1 Turner cf 5 1 3 2

Seamons lf 5 3 1 1 Stevens rf 5 1 2 3

Updegrave rf/1b 2 2 1 2 Martinez ss 4 0 1 1

Gish 1b 2 0 0 0 Stewart c 5 1 1 0

Weintraub rf 3 1 0 1 Shaw dh 4 0 0 0

Signorelli 3b 5 1 1 3 Magill 1b 4 0 0 0

Thomas dh 2 0 0 0 McGill ph 1 0 0 0

Marquez ph 2 0 0 0 Webster 2b 3 0 0 0

De Sa 2b 3 1 0 1 Escoto 2b 2 0 1 1

Bulla c 3 0 1 1 Ford lf 2 2 1 0

Cabrera pr 3 0 1 1 Newman ph 1 0 0 0

George ss 4 3 1 0 Leach 3b 1 2 0 0

Totals 36 13 7 13 Totals 37 7 9 7

Lewis-Clark State 030 520 012—13 7 1

Tennessee Wesleyan 000 000 205— 7 9 2

Lewis-Clark State ip h r er bb so

Drake George (W, 1-0) 4.2 3 0 0 2 7

Jantzen Lucas 2.1 2 2 2 2 4

Zachary Ediger 1 3 5 3 2 0

Kolby Solomon 1 1 0 0 1 1

Tennessee Wesleyan ip h r er bb so

Blake Peyton (L, 0-1) 3 2 5 5 8

Alex Wize 0.2 0 3 1 4 0

Ayden Mansfield 3.1 2 2 2 2 1

Zach Smith 1 2 1 1 0 0

Jaden Fulwood 1 1 2 2 2 0

------

BELLEVUE LEWIS-CLARK STATE

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Maeno pr 0 1 0 0 Booth lf 4 0 1 0

Lind cf/rf 5 1 2 0 George dh 4 1 2 0

Ackerman 1b 5 0 3 2 Seamons cf 5 2 2 1

Luther ss 4 0 3 0 Updegrave 1b 4 0 2 3

Grant dh 5 0 1 0 Signorelli 3b 4 0 0 0

Grade 3b 3 1 1 0 De Sa 2b 4 0 2 0

Zimmerer rf 3 0 0 0 Sheward c 3 0 0 0

Gilbert cf 0 0 0 0 Marquez c 1 0 0 0

Lacey lf 3 0 0 0 Cabrera rf 4 0 0 0

Richardson c 3 0 0 1 Rivera ss 2 0 0 1

Monroe 2b 3 0 0 0

Toth ph 1 0 0 0

Townsend 2b 0 0 0 0

Totals 35 3 10 3 1 Totals 35 4 9 4 2

Bellevue 001 100 001—3 10 1

Lewis-Clark State 000 102 001—4 9 1

Bellevue ip h r er bb so

Brock Townsend 3 1 0 0 1 1

Kenji Miller 3 4 3 3 0 1

Parker McMan (L, 0-1) 2.2 4 1 1 1 3

Lewis-Clark State ip h r er bb so

Jace Hanson 4.1 4 2 2 1 5

Brady Maylett 2.2 2 0 0 0 2

Cam Smith (W, 1-0) 2 4 1 1 0 3

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