LEWISTON, Idaho — Julian Ramon drove in two runs, including the go-ahead score in the seventh, to help the Lewis-Clark State baseball team rally for a 7-4 win over Concordia (Calif.) in Game 12 of the Avista-NAIA World Series on Monday night.
Ramon finished with two of the 11 hits collected by the fourth-seeded Warriors, who improve to 43-11 this season. This is the first time they have won their first two tournament games since 2008, which also happens to be when they won the most recent of their 16 national championships.
The Warriors will face second-seeded Faulkner on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Harris Field. Eighth-seeded Concordia, which falls to 49-17, will battle Embry-Riddle in an elimination game at 3 p.m.
"Concordia had all the momentum and they are so well coached, so we knew we would have to play our best game of the season — and we didn't," LCSC coach Jeremiah Robbins said. "But it was one of our more competitive games. When you get competitive efforts from all of your pitchers, and your entire roster, that allows you to get in that winner's bracket and stay in that winner's bracket."
Despite struggling with command early in the game, LCSC starter Nick Sagendorf earned his fifth win of the season after allowing just two runs on four hits in six innings. The right-handed junior finished with three walks and one strikeout.
"Nick was shaky at first, but he got it back and just got into a good rhythm," Robbins said. "We liked his slider and his fastball was down, which actually set us up well to bring in Beau."
Beau, of course, is Beau Kerns, who once again worked out of the bullpen for the Warriors. After earning the win in LSCC's Series opener, the righty collected a save this time around. The senior did yield two runs and a walk, but he mowed down five Concordia batters in his three innings of relief.
"We plan on using Beau in this role," Robbins said. "I know it's a surprise for some people, but he's been prepped for this."
The efforts of Kerns and Sagendorf allowed the LCSC offense time to find its footing against Concordia's hurlers. After Seth Brown's RBI single gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead in the top of the first — they were the visiting team for this game — Concordia starter Robbie Ingram held the Warriors without a hit until the sixth.
By then, the Warriors found themselves in a 2-1 hole. But they eventually chased Ingram with one out in the sixth and scored the tying on a wild pitch from reliever Garrett Kraemer.
The game's decisive salvo came in the seventh, when the Warriors exploded for four runs on as many hits to seize a 6-2 advantage. The rally started with consecutive base knocks by Raymond Pedrina and Brown. Following an out, the Eagles intentionally walked Max Whitt to get to Ramon, who drilled the first offering from reliever Jose Cardona to center field to put the Warriors in front by two runs.
"I like to swing first pitch and I saw that pitch in my zone," said Ramon, who went 2-for-5. "I just let it rip and … it was probably the best moment of my life so far."
Michael Sexton added an RBI single later in the inning and Chase Hafer scored on an error, one of two committed by the Eagles in the game, to complete the outburst.
Even after Concordia cut into the lead with two runs in the home half of the seventh, the Warriors kept battling, particularly Whitt. In the ninth inning, the junior infielder fought off eight pitches from Cardona before hitting the ninth pitch high off the scoreboard in right field for his 16th home run of the season, which produced the final margin.
Whitt also scored three runs while Brown and Robert Smith Jr., who started at third in place of Sexton, pocketed two hits apiece. Cabe Reiten and Zach Holley also singled for the Warriors, who reached double-figure hits for the 42nd time this season.