If you arrived late, you likely saw Moscow’s baseball team dominating the diamond. All of Lewiston’s highlights happened in the game’s first few minutes.
Five first-inning runs were enough for the Bengals, who held off Moscow’s late rally and beat the Bears 6-4 in an Inland Empire League game Saturday at Church Field. The win kept Lewiston (12-8, 12-4) alive for the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Class 5A district tournament.
But it also was a snapshot of one of the team’s biggest flaws.
“This team’s notorious for a one-inning explosion, and then not a lot (the rest of the game),” Bengals coach Davey Steele said. “We have to find a way to get our leadoff guy in the next inning on base and we have to continue to chip away every inning.”
Killian Fox, Elliott Taylor and Zachary Lombard doubled to anchor the first-inning outburst. Lewiston sent 10 hitters to bat in the inning and got two RBI each from Lombard and Austin Kolb. The hot-hitting hosts appeared poised to run-rule the Bears and enjoy a stress-free afternoon.
But the Bengals only put three players on base the rest of the way.
The five-run first prompted a Moscow pitching change, and the Bears continued to shuttle new arms onto the mound. Each one stifled the Bengals. Relievers Chad Redinger, Barrett Abendroth and Ryan Delusa combined to surrender two hits and no walks and tallied five strikeouts.
Lewiston’s only other run came in the fifth, when Cruz Hepburn was hit by a pitch, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on Kolb’s RBI groundout.
“We were on time with their first guy, and then the next couple of guys we weren’t on time with,” Steele said. “It’s hard to see multiple pitchers throughout the course of a game, because you get your timing down on the first guy and then the next guy’s got different velocity, different stuff, and so it mixes it up on you.
“Today was a culmination of that, plus focus lapses at times.”
It gave Moscow (8-8, 6-8) a chance to claw its way back.
The Bears’ bats were steady throughout, netting at least one hit in all but one inning. After stranding runners on base in the first, second and fourth, Moscow broke through for a run in the fifth on Delusa’s RBI single.
Mike Kiblen walked and Redinger doubled to open the seventh. A Delusa sacrifice fly and Abendroth’s RBI single cut Lewiston’s lead to 6-3. Devon Conway added a sac fly to make it 6-4 with two outs, but the Bengals shut the door and preserved the win that spanned less than two hours.
The young Moscow team, which features four seniors and six underclassmen, has been on the wrong side of some one-sided scoreboards this season. But the Bears have been close in both games against Lewiston, falling 5-2 on April 6.
“Outside of a big first inning on their part, we win the ballgame,” Moscow coach Griffin Rod said. “That was probably the best overall baseball game that we’ve played in a long time. … No errors, one baserunning mistake that I can think of. I’m incredibly proud of our guys.”
Redinger and Conway finished with three hits apiece for the Bears, who end their league schedule with a doubleheader Tuesday at Sandpoint. Moscow is in second place in the Class 4A IEL standings, two games behind Sandpoint.
“We needed to play well (today) and give ourselves some belief headed into that (doubleheader),” Rod said.
Lewiston ends its regular season Tuesday at home with a doubleheader against Post Falls. The first-place Trojans are two games ahead of the Bengals in the Class 5A IEL standings and, since the teams split their first two games this season, Lewiston will take over first place with a sweep. The Bengals will be the district tournament’s No. 2 seed with a split or two losses.
Moscow 000 010 3 — 4 9 0
Lewiston 500 010 x — 6 6 1
Mike Kiblen, Chad Redinger (2), Barrett Abendroth (5), Ryan Delusa (6) and Jack Bales; Zachary Lombard, Kayden Carpenter (6), Cole McKenzie (7) and Killian Fox.
Moscow hits — Redinger 3 (2B), Devon Conway 3, Delusa, Abendroth, Cody Isakson.
Lewiston hits — Fox (2B), Elliott Taylor (2B), Lombard (2B), Austin Kolb, Quinton Edmison, Zachary Massey.
Guernsey may be contacted at email@example.com, (208) 848-2268 or on Twitter @MD_Guernsey.