Tonight at 7 p.m., two teams will battle for the 2007 Avista-NAIA World Series championship. And it just wouldn’t feel natural if one of the teams wasn’t Lewis-Clark (Idaho) State.
The Warriors (57-5) toppled Houston Baptist 8-7 on Wednesday off an eighth inning solo home run by Ikaika Lester that broke a 7-7 tie, and will play Spring Arbor (Mich.) for the title. Unlike most teams in the postseason, the Huskies had an answer for every offensive outburst Lewis-Clark State could muster until Lester’s go-ahead bomb.
After the Warriors scored three runs in the top of the first, Houston Baptist answered with three runs of its own in the second when a bases-loaded grounder by Jay Prigmore scored a run and Kory Johns tied the game with a two-run single.
Lewis-Clark State then went ahead 6-3 in the third off a Ryan Wholey two-run homer and a Jesse Roehl RBI single. But the Huskies answered again, scoring runs in the third and fifth innings before taking a 7-6 lead in the sixth inning.
Then the game turned. With the Warriors trailing by a run, righthander Will Morgan came on to pitch four shutout innings, yielding just one hit to the Huskies. Morgan’s strong pitching kept Lewis-Clark State in the game, setting the stage for Lester’s eighth-inning dramatics.
Wednesday’s other game featured Spring Arbor taking on Bellevue (Neb.) in a loser-go-home grudge match. Righthander Brad Hinkle pitched a complete game for the Cougars giving up five runs (four earned) on 12 hits with five strikeouts to one walk.
The game mirrored Lewis-Clark State’s triumph, in that both teams took turns taking the lead in the early moments before Spring Arbor (48-4) ultimately pulled away.
After three lead changes, Bellevue went into the bottom of the fifth up 5-3 and in control of the game. But the Cougars had other plans, as Brad Baker, Jeff Tebeau and Jon Herbig all had RBI hits to put Spring Arbor up 6-5, a lead the Cougars would never relinquish.
Spring Arbor takes on Lewis-Clark tonight in a rematch of the Warriors’ 7-0 win against the Cougars on Monday–the series’ lone shutout. Undefeated in the Avista-NAIA World Series, Lewis-Clark State only needs one more win–either tonight or Friday–to claim its second consecutive national championship and 15th overall. Spring Arbor needs to win tonight in order to force a second, decisive game Friday.
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