The three hour and two minute slugfest featured four lead changes, 25 combined runs and 27 combined hits. Four Lee hurlers walked eight batters and hit five other Warriors with pitches. The win sends Lee (50-10) into a winner’s bracket matchup with No. 3 seed Embry-Riddle (Fla.) tonight at 9:30 p.m. EDT.
“It certainly wasn’t what I expected,” admitted coach Mark Brew. “I think our hitters are carrying a chip on their shoulders. They have watched as our pitchers command a lot of attention this season.”
Lewis-Clark State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a wild pitch and sacrifice fly by senior catcher Kyle Blackwell, but Lee immediately answered back with six runs in the top of the second, taking advantage of a Warrior error to jump-start the rally.
Unfazed, the Warriors fought back from the four-run deficit and placed their own six-spot on the board in the bottom of the third to retake the lead 8-6. Smith lost his command in the frame, hitting two batters to force in one run and walking home another.
It was Lewis-Clark State starter Nylund’s turn to make an early exit in the fourth inning, exiting with arm tightness after giving up a two-out walk to Danny Canela to load the bases. Designated hitter Corey Davis cleared them with a triple down the right-field line to greet reliever Garrett Wilson as the Flames regained a 9-8 advantage.
“Corey’s triple was huge and got us back in the lead for good,” noted Brew. “Canela was great at the plate all night. I’m proud of the way our guys hung in there when the leads kept slipping away.”
That lead widened to 10-8 in the fifth on a mammoth home run by Lee first baseman Karsten Strieby, his third of the season. The solo shot cleared the fence in straightaway center field. Canela helped stretch the margin with a two-run homer in the sixth and the Flames added an insurance run in the seventh when Brandon Rader singled and scored on Brady Renner’s double.
Canela paced the 16-hit attack with two singles, a home run and four RBIs. Josh Silver also had three hits, three RBIs and two runs scored. Strieby had a single to go with his homer. He tallied twice. Davis also had a base knock to go with his triple.
Derrick Pitts and Rader joined the two-hit club, while Brady Renner walked twice and was hit by a pitch. He scored four times and added an RBI with his double. Cameron Brewster had an infield hit that produced an RBI.
Junior Keegan Yuhl (4-1) was the winning pitcher. He worked four innings and allowed five hits, two earned runs, struck out five and walked two. “Keegan gave us exactly what we needed,” praised Brew. “He helped us finally take control against a very good Lewis-Clark hitting team.”
Andy Hillis came on to pitch the final two innings. Sal Arena (1-4) was charged with the Warrior pitching defeat.
The 10-team World Series field will be trimmed to six before the Flames take the field tonight. Memorial Day play begins at 3 EDT when Missouri Baptist and Rogers State (Oka.) battle to stay alive. At 6 p.m. it’ll be another loser’s out game when Northwood (Texas) and Lewis-Clark State tangle.
Before the No. 2 seed Flames take Harris Field, No. 1 seed Faulkner (Ala.) will face The Master’s (Calif.)
Lee and Embry-Riddle have faced-off seven times over the years and the Flames hold a 5-2 advantage. In World Series play, coach Mark Brew’s team whipped the Eagles 10-7 in 2010 and 7-4 in 2011. The two squads did not meet in last year’s Series.
“Embry-Riddle once again appears to have great pitching and will most likely send a lefty (Stetson Nelson) to the mound against us,” said Brew. Nelson, a sophomore transfer from Winthrop University, is 8-2 overall and owns a 2.03 ERA.
“They (Embry-Riddle) have struggled on paper offensively this year, but the offense was clicking for them late in game one of the Series and it looked pretty good to us,” said Brew as he viewed the scouting report.
Senior right-hander Jose Samayoa will get the start for the Flames. Samayoa is 10-1 overall with a 1.76 ERA. “We need a good performance out of Jose and our pitchers need to do a better job of attacking the zone than we did against LC State.
“Offensively, I am hoping we can continue our quality at-bats and production at the plate,” the coach added. “We must also be able to defend against Embry-Riddle's short game which they are really good at executing. It should be another great game.”
The Flames spent spend a busy Sunday. They were up early to attend the annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes service then traveled to Clarkston, Wash., for their seventh straight church service at Clarkston First Baptist.
The team paid a visit to the Lewiston Rodeo Roundup Grounds for a great lunch and fun time. The lunch was hosted by Brad Cannon, Lee’s team host and team honorary coach for the sixth consecutive year.