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Warriors clinch Cascade Conference crown with doubleheader sweep of Bushnell

Apr. 28—It wasn't without some drama, but No. 5 Lewis-Clark State's five home runs and an eight-inning start from Shane Spencer resulted in a Cascade Conference baseball doubleheader sweep over Bushnell on Saturday at Harris Field.

The Warriors downed the Beacons 9-8 in 10 innings in Game 1 and 5-4 in Game 2. The sweep clinched the Cascade Conference regular-season title, which guaranteed the postseason conference tournament, the NAIA Opening Round and the Avista NAIA World Series will all take place at Harris Field.

Junior right fielder Brandon Cabrera had two of LCSC's five home runs, his 11th and 12th of the season. Both were two-run shots.

"(The pitcher) was just leaving a lot over the middle of the plate," Cabrera said. "So, just stick to the approach and find the middle of the field and good things happen."

Before the Warriors clinched their postseason future, they had to close out the games. And Bushnell didn't give up without a fight.

Beacons make it interesting

LCSC (33-9, 19-3) led by as many as six in Game 1. But, as the cliche goes, no lead is safe.

The Beacons (26-22, 12-10) put up five runs in the sixth inning, which cut the Warriors' lead down to 7-6. The Warriors got an insurance run in the bottom half of the frame courtesy of a first-pitch solo home run from senior center fielder Carter Booth.

It turned out that the insurance didn't provide enough coverage. A two-RBI home run from Bushnell's sophomore outfielder Anthony Jennings in the ninth sent the game to extra innings.

The Warriors won after a hit by junior shortstop Dominic Signorelli bounced off the chest of second baseman Ethan Stacy. The error brought home Ike George for the walk-off run.

But the drama wasn't restricted to just the matinee.

Jennings hit another two-run home run in the top of the ninth in Game 2. But, unlike his first, Jennings' second homer brought the Beacons to within one rather than a tie.

Up 5-4, LCSC reliever Jake Green closed the game out. His one inning of work earned him his second save of the season.

"I think the best thing about today was knowing we didn't have to go on the road again," LCSC coach Jake Taylor said. "So, pretty excited about that. Our energy I thought today was halfway-lethargic. But we had some pitchers both games compete and we did just enough. That second game I think we scored every run with two outs. Some timely hitting."

The near-rallies from Bushnell didn't stop the Warriors from having several standout showings on offense and on the mound.

Spencer puts on display

For the second week in a row, Spencer went at least eight innings in his start for the Warriors. The Las Vegas product had 10 strikeouts and let up three hits and no walks.

"I knew they swung at everything," Spencer said. "Anything in the zone they swung at. I just wanted to move their bats. Create a swing and a miss. If they were going to swing a lot, that's what I wanted to do. So we just found pitches to look like they were in the zone and (then went) out of the zone. If the ball stayed in the zone they got themselves out."

LCSC's bats matched the level on the mound. Signorelli and senior infielder Magnum Hofstetter had one home run apiece.

The Warriors had a couple of injuries to deal with. Signorelli and senior outfielder Nick Seamons both had ailments heading into the doubleheader and Seamons ended up missing the nightcap.

LCSC's offense did take a dip in Game 2. The team didn't record its first hit until the fourth and finished with six in Game 2 after putting up nine in Game 1.

But Taylor's comments of timely hits rang true. Cabrera got his first home run right after the team's first hit of the game.

"I think we have a lot of guys on the team who can do damage at any point," Cabrera said. "So, it's kind of just about moving the line for me. Finding whatever I can to get on the base so the guy behind me can do the job if I don't."

Postseason goes through Harris Field

The Warriors have two more games against the Beacons starting at 11 a.m. today. But the sweep on Saturday guarantees that the remainder of LCSC's postseason will be played at Harris Field.

The Warriors are undefeated at home this season (18-0) and are on a 14-game overall winning streak — the second longest active stretch in the NAIA behind Central Methodist (15).

Four of LCSC's wins during its streak came against the then-No. 2 team in the nation (now No. 4) LSU Shreveport Pilots.

The Warriors have momentum on their side. And now, they have a guarantee that all roads in the postseason go right through their backyard.

"I think this team has displayed resiliency," Taylor said. "We've had a lot of different guys step up and play for us when other guys went down. And it's a great sign to see. This team doesn't rely on one person. ... We're excited to be at home."

GAME 1

BUSHNELL LEWIS-CLARK STATE

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Stacy 2b 4 0 0 0 Booth cf 5 2 2 1

Casperson c 4 0 2 2 Seamons lf 4 1 0 0

Carter pr 0 1 0 0 Signorelli ss 4 1 1 2

Wilson dh 3 1 0 0 Gish 1b 4 1 0 1

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

Hart lf 5 1 3 0 Cabrera rf 4 1 2 1

Nye 3b 4 0 0 0 De Sa 3b 5 0 1 1

Crist 1b 5 1 2 2 Ephan c 3 0 2 2

Richter cf 4 1 0 0 I. George pr 0 1 0 0

Hussey ph 1 0 1 1 Hofstetter 2b 4 1 1 1

Stoner ss 4 0 0 0

Richards ph 1 0 1 0

Totals 39 8 11 7 Totals 37 9 9 9

Bushnell 000 105 002 0—8 11 2

Lewis-Clark State 210 131 000 1—9 9 2

Bushnell ip h r er bb so

Furman 4.0 6 6 6 4 2

Soriano 3.0 2 2 2 2 3

Brown 1.0 0 0 0 0 0

Hmmnd (L, 6-3) 1.1 1 1 1 2 2

Lewis-Clark State ip h r er bb so

D. George 5.0 5 4 3 2 6

Lucas 0.2 2 2 2 1 1

Smith 3.1 3 2 2 1 4

Webb (W, 1-0) 1.0 1 0 0 0 1

GAME 2

BUSHNELL LEWIS-CLARK STATE

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Furman cf 3 0 0 1 Booth cf 3 2 1 0

Stacy 2b 3 1 0 0 Cabrera rf 4 2 2 4

Wilson dh 4 0 0 0 Signorelli ss 3 1 0 0

Jennings rf 4 1 1 2 Gish dh 4 0 1 1

Hart lf 4 0 1 0 Updegrave 1b 3 0 0 0

Crist 1b 3 1 1 1 De Sa 3b 3 0 1 0

Richards c 3 0 0 0 Weintraub lf 3 0 1 0

Nye 3b 3 0 0 0 Marquez c 3 0 0 0

Stoner ss 2 1 1 0 Rivera 2b 3 0 0 0

Hussey ph 1 0 0 0

Totals 30 4 4 4 Totals 29 5 6 5

Bushnell 001 000 012—4 4 0

Lewis-Clark State 000 220 01x—5 6 1

Bushnell ip h r er bb so

Chapman (L, 1-5) 6.0 4 4 4 2 3

Stavros 2.0 2 1 1 1 2

Lewis-Clark State ip h r er bb so

Spencer (W, 5-1) 8.0 3 2 1 0 10

Green (S, 2) 1.0 1 2 2 1 0

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