LEWISTON, Idaho -- Azusa Pacific spotted one of the NAIA’s best pitching staffs a 6-run lead, and No. 1-ranked Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) College held off each of the Cougars’ late rallies to hang on for a 6-2 win over the visiting Cougars.
In the first game of this week’s 4-game series between the programs that met in back-to-back NAIA West Coast Super Regional tournaments in 2007 and 2008, Lewis-Clark State starter Tyler Knigge dealt 5 scoreless innings before surrendering single runs in the sixth and seventh. Senior first baseman Brice Cutspec knocked in both of Azusa Pacific’s runs, slamming a leadoff home run in the sixth inning before delivering a 2-out RBI single an inning later against a Warrior pitching staff that entered the week ranked second in the NAIA in team ERA (2.56).
Knigge struck out 4 Cougars and scattered 6 hits in 6.2 innings to pick up his sixth win this season, although Cutspec was a perfect 3-for-3 off the Warrior righthander. Cutspec singled off Lewis-Clark State lefthander Stephen Foster for his fourth hit of the game, and senior designated hitter Chris Feicht was the only other Cougar with multiple hits in a 2-for-4 effort.
Lewis-Clark State cashed in 3 straight 1-out singles in the first inning for an early 1-0 lead, and the Warriors added 3 more runs on 5 third-inning hits to take a 4-0 lead. In the bottom of the fourth, Azusa Pacific committed 2 errors that contributed to both Lewis-Clark State runs that pushed the deficit to 6-0 after 4 innings.
The Cougar bullpen fired 4 scoreless innings to keep the game within reach, and Azusa Pacific put runners on base in each of the final 5 innings. Senior righthander Ryan Rosenhahn gave up a pair of singles in 3 innings of scoreless relief, and sophomore lefty Tim Luset down the Warriors’ second, third and fourth hitters in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Senior catcher Ryan Delgado was hitless in 4 at-bats, snapping a team season-high 11-game hitting streak.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific drops to 13-16 overall, while Lewis-Clark State improves to 25-2 on the season. The series continues with a 4 p.m. matchup on Thursday, April 1, followed by Friday’s noon doubleheader at Harris Field.