Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) College’s quest for a third consecutive NAIA national title and seventh in the last 10 years will not come without a hitch. The great college baseball dynasty got a scare on Monday evening when the Warriors needed extra innings to defeat Oklahoma City 9-5 at the Avista NAIA World Series in their hometown of Lewiston, Idaho.
Senior outfielder Mike Rivera proved the hero for LCSC when he belted a solo home run to right field off Oklahoma City righthander Garrett Parker in the 12th inning, catapulting the Warriors to a victory over the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament. The win was their 55th of the season and means the team cannot finish lower than third place.
The Warriors had to rally from a 4-1 deficit after the first three innings, scoring three runs in the next four frames to tie the contest. DH Sean Halton gave LCSC the lead on a solo home run in the top of the eighth, but the advantage would soon be negated by the Stars’ timely hitting in the bottom of the ninth. With Kirk Walker standing on second, Brent Weaver flied out to deep left-center to move Walker over to third before David Dennis–-the team’s leader in RBIs with 110–singled home the runner to propel the game into extras.
After entering in the seventh inning, Lewis-Clark southpaw reliever Blaine Hardy pitched the duration of the game, inducing a 4-6-3 double play in the bottom of the 12th to secure the win. Hardy combined with righthander Justin Mace to surrender just one run (unearned) in the final 9 2/3 innings of play.
Following Rivera’s home run in the 12th, the Warriors tacked on three more runs for good measure to make the inning a nightmarish one for OCU relievers. Altogether, the Stars needed five pitchers to get out of the inning, consequently tying the World Series record for most pitchers used in a game (seven).
LSCS’s win sets up a bout with the tournament’s only other undefeated team, top-seeded Lee (Tenn.), which will take place tonight at 7 p.m. at Harris Field.
By virtue of its distinction as one of the tournament’s top two seeds, Lee earned a bye before eliminating Bellevue (Neb.) on Saturday 7-1, then defeating Union (Ky.) College by the count of 14-8 on Sunday.
Day Four Schedule:
Game 13: No. 5 Union vs. No. 7 Spring Arbor (Mich.) (Loser is eliminated)
Game 14: No. 2 Oklahoma City vs. No. 6 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (Loser is eliminated)
Game 15: No. 3 Lewis-Clark State vs. No. 1 Lee
Pairings for Game 16 and 17 on Wednesday will be determined by the tournament committee.