LEWISTON, Idaho -- Lewis-Clark State long ago established itself as a perennial NAIA power tucked away in the Pacific Northwest.
The NAIA’s No. 1-ranked Warriors are having another good season and today extended their winning streak to 18 in a row with a doubleheader sweep over Azusa Pacific. Lewis-Clark State beat the Cougars by counts of 10-2 and 8-1 at Harris Field.
The opener was a tight contest until the hometown 9 had a big inning at the plate and the nightcap began in similar fashion as they scored 5 runs in the first 2 innings.
In the opening contest, Cougars broke through first with a run in the top of the first inning against starter Chris Kissock. With 1 out, Kirk Nieuwenhuis belted a double into the alley in right centerfield. Kissock then struck out Coba Canales then faced Scott Hodsdon who hit a groundball to the left side of the infield. Third baseman Allen Balmer made a clean pick-up but his throw tailed to the home plate side pulling Jose Castenon off the bag for an error. Nieuwenhuis was waved around third and scored without a throw. It was only the second time this season the Warriors were scored on in the opening frame.
The inning ended with Hodsdon being thrown out on an attempted steal of second. Hodsdon appeared to beat the throw from catcher Dan Morrow but was called out. Head coach Paul Svagdis disagreed and briefly argued the call.
Lewis-Clark State came back to tie the game in the bottom of the first on an RBI groundout by Jessie Mier against Cougar starter Guy McDowell.
Then, in the bottom of the second inning, things took a sour turn for Azusa Pacific. Paul Martin drove a ball into the right centerfield gap and was off like a shot. As he rounded second, Hodsdon whipped the relay throw to James O’Neill who looked to have the ball waiting for Martin as he slid head first into third base. Larson called Martin safe which triggered another argument from Svagdis; this edition of the more vehement variety. Svagdis was tossed and the floodgates to a big offensive game had been opened.
Martin scored on a wild pitch to give Lewis-Clark State a 2-1 lead. Jessie Roehl then tripled to right center. Morrow was hit by a McDowell pitch to put runners at the corners with 1 out. Mark Thompson then singled in a run to make it 3-1 while still keeping runners at first and third. McDowell then threw wildly on a pickoff attempt to first that let in another run to put the Warriors ahead, 4-1.
The Cougars pushed a run across in the top of the third inning when Hodsdon singled home Nieuwenhuis who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice. With the score 4-2, Azusa Pacific was back in the ballgame but that was as close as it would get.
The Warriors broke open the game with a big fifth inning scoring 6 times as they chased McDowell from the game. The deeply frustrating thing for the Cougars was the first 2 men were retired before the Warriors batted around. Of the Warriors 5 hits in the inning, 4 came with 2 strikes on the batter including a 2-run homer by Balmer.
Shannon Wirth took the hill in the nightcap for the Warriors and was very effective. The right hander limited the Cougars’ offense to 1 run in 7 innings of work as Lewis-Clark State downed Azusa Pacific, 12-1. It rapped out 16 hits in the process.
Lewis-Clark State got going early against Zach Pettikas as they tagged the southpaw for 4 runs in the first inning. Additionally, shortstop Matt Vogel drove in 3 runs with a pair of base hits.
Nick Beghtol drove in the only run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.
The 4 game series will conclude with a game tomorrow scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.