Editor's note: For complete cpoverage of the NAIA World Series, see www.lmtribune.com
The difference couldn’t have been more stark: One night after all nine Lewis-Clark State batters reached base in their first trip to the plate, those same nine were all retired in their first at-bat.
What changed? The Warriors were facing Colton Williams.
The left-handed pitcher from Science and Arts continued his stellar season with a masterful performance in the Drovers’ debut in the Avista NAIA World Series. Williams spread out eight hits, walked two and struck out 11 in a wire-to-wire performance that powered USAO to a 6-2 victory over LCSC in front of a Harris Field crowd of 3,230 on Saturday evening.
Science and Arts, the second-seeded club from Oklahoma, will next play St. Thomas at 7 p.m. Monday. The 10th-seeded Warriors will battle for their Series lives at 8:30 a.m. Monday against Bellevue.
Williams, a 6-foot-5 junior, kept LCSC off-balance with a variety of pitches and placements. He carried a no-hitter into the fourth and didn’t give up a run until the sixth.
Williams was “tough to beat,” Warriors coach Jake Taylor said. “We didn’t have many oppotunities, but the ones we had, we could capitalize.”
Williams said his curveball was a bit erratic early on, but he was able to command it as the game went along. He admitted to being nervous before taking the mound in his first Series appearance, “but once you throw that first pitch, you just find that zone and block everything else out,” he said.
He must be good at staying focused. With this win, Williams ran his record to 16-0 and upped his strikeout total to 132. His ERA actually went up to 1.23 after the Warriors scratched out two tallies.
“It’s just unreal,” Drovers coach Mike Ross said. “He continues to do it, which is the most impressive thing. You keep waiting for the other shoe to fall off, but it hasn’t. He just gets up there and grinds it out and comes right at you with three pitches, and he just competes, competes.”
USAO (47-10) struck first offensively when No. 9 hitter Christian Laboy led off the third with a solo homer to straightaway center. Alex Sanchez and Luis Pelayo both drove in runs in the fifth, then did the same thing in the seventh to put the Drovers ahead 5-1.
The Warriors (35-14-1) led off the fifth, sixth and seventh with hits, but those auspicious starts led to a grand total of one run.
Then in the eighth, an L-C threat came to a strange end. With Warriors on first and second with one out, USAO shortstop P.J. Garcia let a low-flying popup drop in front of him. The L-C runners tried to advance, and Garcia threw to third to start what appeared to be a 6-5-4 double play.
But the actual ruling was that the infield fly rule had been called, meaning the batter was automatically out. That meant there wasn’t a force out at third, but the runner at second was tagged out for the last out of the inning. Taylor said he didn’t hear the infield fly rule called, but the umpires said it was.
In the bottom of the eighth, Garcia drove in a run with a two-out single to make it 6-1. The Warriors managed to push a run across in the ninth on Jacob Gribbin’s sacrifice fly, but Williams notched his final strikeout to end the game.
L-C’s pitching was steady, with Justin Hammergren, Andrew Najeeb-Brush and Lalo Porras avoiding any blowup innings despite the Drovers’ 13 hits. But they were outshined by Williams, who threw 133 pitches.
“I thought we handled the environment pretty well — it was a lot of fun,” Ross said. “And I think they enjoyed it instead of stressing over it. ... I tell them all the time, it doesn’t matter who is in the other dugout — you’ve got to take care of your own business. If this team does that, they’re talented enough to win.”
LEWIS-CLARK STATE SCIENCE AND ARTS
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Lampkin cf 4 0 1 0 Lorenzo 3b 4 2 1 0
Davis ss 3 0 1 0 Garcia ss 5 1 3 1
Trainor c 3 0 2 1 Sanchez dh 1 0 0 2
Duran pr 0 0 0 0 Pelayo lf 5 0 3 2
Callahan 1b 4 0 0 0 Lefarga 1b 4 0 1 0
Needham 3b 4 0 1 0 Laureano cf 4 0 2 0
Garvin lf 4 1 1 0 Horner c 4 0 1 0
Way 2b 4 0 1 0 Shumway pr 0 0 0 0
Gribbin dh 2 0 0 1 Alamo 2b 3 1 1 0
Bart rf 4 1 1 0 Laboy rf 3 2 2 1
Totals 32 2 8 2 McIntosh pr 0 0 0 0
Totals 33 6 13 6
Lewis-Clark State 000 001 001—2 8 0
Science and Arts 001 020 21x—6 13 0
Lewis-Clark State ip h r er bb so
Hammergren 4.2 7 3 3 1 2
Najeeb-Brush 1.1 3 2 2 0 1
Porras 2 3 1 1 1 2
Science and Arts ip h r er bb so
Williams 9 8 2 2 2 11
Attendance — 3,230.
Lewis-Clark St. 2Science and Arts 6
Stars of the game
The Drovers’ 6-foot-5, 220-pounds COLTON WILLIAMS might look like a pure power pitcher, but he showed his full arsenal in his complete-game performance. The junior from Houston allowed eight hits, two walks and two earned runs while striking out 11.
USAO’s P.J. GARCIA and LUIS PELAYO both went 3-for-5 at the plate. ALEX SANCHEZ drove in two runs on sacrifice flies.
LCSC pitcher JUSTIN HAMMERGREN, in his long-awaited Series debut, was solid in four-plus innings, spreading out seven hits and allowing three earned run.
Drovers coach MIKE ROSS said he was considering taking Williams out in the ninth if the Warriors got to the top of their order. Ross said he stuck with a starter too long in the Drovers’ Opening Round championship game, and USAO ended up having to sweat out the win in extra innings. But in this game, Williams struck out L-C’s No. 9 hitter to end it.
quote of note
“It’s win or go home now. We’ll be ready.”
— LCSC coach JAKE TAYLOR