The storm got Lewis-Clark State out of a jam.
Nearby lightning and heavy rainfall forced the postponement of the winner-take-all title game between Southeastern (Fla.) and LCSC on Thursday at the Avista NAIA World Series.
The wild weather stopped play just after the top-seeded Fire had loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
So, LCSC’s pitching staff will be in a tight spot when the game resumes at 8:15 am today.
The Warriors, who trail 6-5, must limit the damage in the seventh if they have any designs on capturing their 20th national championship. So who will they call on?
Perhaps LCSC sticks with Dawson Day, a senior left-hander who entered in relief in the seventh and threw six pitches before the umpires spotted lightning strikes in the distance.
An extra 12 hours of rest will be beneficial for Day. He threw 139 pitches and struck out 14 batters in allowing one hit across 6 innings Monday in a 7-1 win against Faulkner (Ala.), then earned a save in the day’s first meeting between LCSC and SEU after fanning the Fire’s final batter to preserved at 10-9 Warrior victory.
It’s pure conjecture at this point, but maybe LCSC goes with co-ace Trent Sellers (14-0). The junior right-hander is up to 226 pitches in the Series. It might not matter that he threw 114 in Wednesday’s semifinal win against LSU Shreveport — this is the championship, after all, and the Warriors’ present situation requires a reliable arm. Standout true freshman reliever Drake Borschowa, who conceded five runs in the Warriors’ 9-5 loss Tuesday to SEU, also was warming up in the LCSC bullpen during the title tilt.
Few opposing pitchers have managed to contain the Fire’s potent lineup, which churned out 11 hits in Game 2 before the dark clouds moved in.
LCSC leaned on its explosive offense to fashion a lead in the first leg of the championship round, and four Warrior relievers did just enough to close out the win. With its dependent starters recovering from heavy workloads, LCSC trotted out reliever Joe Ball in Game 1.
Ball, making his second start of the season, worked three innings and allowed three runs — a solid outing, given the circumstances. SEU, on the other hand, started ace left-hander Robb Adams (14-2), who couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning in absorbing his second loss of the year.
Pitching performances largely have been overshadowed so far in the two games by hitting highlights, but the two teams have received respectable efforts on the mound so far in the championship game.
SEU starter Drew Gillespie (10-0) held LCSC scoreless for four innings. The Warriors ended his day in the fifth, plating two runs on three consecutive hits and a walk before the Fire went to their bullpen and picked Alex Munroe — their top reliever. Munroe allowed three runs, all of which were charged to Gillespie, on two hits but induced a double play and struck out a batter to stop the bleeding. Munroe blanked LCSC in the sixth and seventh innings.
Bryson Spagnuolo, a key piece in the Warrior bullpen, made his fourth start of the season in the title game and fared about as well as Ball did, lasting 2⅔ innings and allowing four runs on six hits. Veteran right-handed reliever Greg Blackman took over and gave LCSC 3⅓ strong innings before SEU wore him down.
Blackman struck out five against four hits and two walks, allowing two runs on 76 pitches. Statistically, the fourth-year Warrior from La Grande, Ore., had a down season but pitched 2⅓ perfect innings to get the save Wednesday against LSU Shreveport. He shined in three appearances at last year’s Series, striking out 10 and surrendering two runs on five hits and three walks in eight innings.