LEWISTON, Idaho -- Lewis-Clark State offense struck early and often putting Azusa Pacific in a quick hole it could not dig itself out of as the Warriors posted a 10-2 win to complete a 4-game sweep of the Cougars at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho.
The Warriors’ scored 7 times in the first 2 innings as their offense scored double digit runs in the final 3 games of the series.
Meanwhile, their defense, particularly their infield, picked it clean making several defensive gems behind their hurlers that turned back Cougar rallies.
In the bottom of the first, the Warriors struck first against Cougar starter Scott Hodsdon. Leadoff man Mark Thompson hit a sharp single to left and then moved around to third on an errant pickoff throw. Matt Vogel then grounded a ball up the middle into centerfield to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead. Vogel moved up 90 feet on a sacrifice and then scampered over to third on a wild pitch by Hodsdon. D.J. Kooken then hit a sharp 1-hopper to short that scored the second run for Lewis-Clark State.
Balmer then boomed an opposite double to left center setting up and RBI base hit by Jessie Mier to complete the 3-run frame.
Hodsdon helped his own cause by jumping on a 1-2 offering from Austin Weilep and lined it over the right field wall. His eighth homer of the season made it 3-1.
After the Cougars were unable to turn a double play ball to end the inning, Vogel came through again for the Warriors. Up with runners at second and third he laced a ball to left that turned into a 2-run single and put L-C State up, 5-1.
The inning eventually grew to a 4-run outburst and it started ominously when the leadoff man reached on a third strike wild pitch. The ball bounced 15 feet to the right of catcher Nick Beghtol who picked it up and lunged at the runner but did not tag him. Beghtol then lobbed a throw that went over the head of first baseman Kirk Nieuwenhuis into right field.
Second baseman Justin Fuller snubbed a Cougar rally in the top of the third inning. Shaun Lane hit a sharp bouncer to Fuller’s left. In one motion he reached up and stabbed the ball as he went into a quick slid. He immediately popped up and threw a strike to Vogel covering second who then threw on to first to complete the double play.
The Cougars got their first 2 men aboard in the top of the fifth inning as Johnny Soberal and James O’Neill hit back-to-back singles. However, the threat was quickly snubbed as Dwight Nixon hit into a 4-6-3 double play which was followed by a strikeout by Lane.
Lane was later robbed again of a base hit by Kooken at first base whose headlong dive took away a surefire extra base hit.
Hodsdon was able to lift an RBI single in shallow right centerfield to score Nieuwenhuis in the top of the eighth.
The defeat dropped the Cougars to 20-20 on the season.
Azusa Pacific returns home next week to take on NCAA Division III member Claremont McKenna on Tuesday at 5 p.m.