Lewis-Clark State Downs William Carey, 12-7
The first delay was caused by weather and a sprinkling system that came on when the field was covered by a tarp. The rain never came and after the tarp was removed, the infield needed an extra 20 minutes of work to get it ready because the sprinklers accidently ran for about 5 minutes under the tarp.
The second delay came when the game started and the Warriors didn't particularly show up. William Carey raced out to a 6-0 lead by the top of the second inning before LCSC came to life with the game's next 11 runs. William Carey tried to rally and scored once in the seventh and had the bases loaded in the eighth, but the Crusaders, 45-20, came up short in their first Series appearance since 1978.
“Obviously we weren't planning to be down 6-0 in the top of the second,” LCSC coach Jeremiah Robbins said. “We knew once we got Connor (starting pitcher Connor Brogdon) calmed down, he would be fine. And once he did, he threw zeros the rest of the way with the one spot in the seventh.”
Lewis-Clark State, 39-13, will take on No. 2 Faulkner (Ala.) at 6:35 p.m. Thursday in a repeat of last year's championship game. LCSC hasn't lost in the tourney so if Faulkner wins Thursday, the title game will take place Friday. LCSC defeated Faulkner 8-6 on Tuesday.
Brogdon and the Warriors managed to overcome their rocky start to get the win. Brogdon was outstanding in LCSC's 6-3 win over Keiser (Fla.) on opening day when he allowed just four hits and three walks along with 10 strikeouts. He issued three walks to the first three batters he faced on Wednesday and paid for it when James Land hit a grand-slam home run for a 4-0 lead.
“I think he (Connor) was just trying to carry the whole team early,” Robbins said. “I tip my hat to him. He's done that a lot for us. He did that in the first game of the tournament. Once he finally got his rhythm and timing on the mound, things changed.”
Land's grand slam was the first in a Series game since Zach Alford of Georgia Gwinnett hit one in the 2014 against San Diego Christian (Calif.). It was the second home run of the Series and 21st of the season for the Crusaders' senior first baseman
Cody Christian later hit a solo home run to deep right-center to make it 5-0 in the first. It was his second home run of the Series and third on the season.
LCSC found itself down 6-0 in the second inning when Tyler James doubled to open the inning and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Graves.
The Warriors started their comeback in the bottom of the second when Tyler McDowell singled and Brock Ephan was hit by a pitch. Logan Griffin singled in McDowell and Ephan later scored on a sacrifice fly by Gunnar Buhner to make it 6-2.
Seaver Whalen hit a solo home run for LCSC to cut the margin to 6-3. It was Whalen's third home run of the Series and 13th on the season.
In the fifth, Micah Brown smacked a solo home run down the left-field line that television replays showed to be fair despite the objections of William Carey players and coaches. It was his fifth of the season.
Two batters later, J.J. Robinson, the NAIA West Player of the Year, launched a solo shot, to make it 6-5.
“Our hitters responded,” Robbins said. “We kept talking to them throughout the game. We are not playing to tie it here, just keep plugging away. Keep doing what you have been doing all year. Fight for 90 feet. We did that and then we got some big knocks from some of our big hitters.”
The solo home run theme continued in the sixth inning for LCSC when Logan Griffin hit a solo shot to right field to tie the game. It was his first of the tournament and fifth of the season.
The Warriors took the lead two batters later. After Buhner singled to center, Cooper Goldby laid down a bunt that William Carey relief pitcher Lane Fazende fielded but threw high and wide to first base and the ball sailed down the right-field line. That enabled Buhner to score and Goldby to be reach third. After Raymond Pedrina's infield single, Brown followed with an RBI single to make it 8-6 and end Fazende's night.
Whalen then reached on a fielding error to load the bases. Robinson followed with a sacrifice fly to score Pedrina, and a wild pitch by reliever Dylan Spiers allowed Brown to score. Griffin picked up his second RBI of the inning with a single to score Whalen and complete LCSC's six-run inning for an 11-6 lead.
“We had the one big crooked number in the sixth where I just kind of felt that momentum completely came to our dugout,” Robbins said of LCSC's rally.
Graves ended the streak of 11 straight runs by LCSC in the top of the seventh when he hit his Series-leading fourth home run to left-center field. It was his ninth homer of the season.
William Carey threatened in the top of the eighth as it loaded the bases with one out but was unable to score as LCSC reliever David Wilson came in and shut the door. Wilson pitched one-hit ball over two innings. He did walk two and struck out one.
Robinson added another solo home run, his third of the tournament, and 22nd of the season, in the eighth inning for the final score.
Robinson and Griffin finished with three hits and three RBI apiece for LCSC, while Brown had two hits and two RBI. Whalen also added two hits as LCSC collected 14 in the game.
Land and Tyler Odom had two hits apiece for William Carey, which finished with eight hits.