LEWISTON, Idaho — As they have done so often this season, the Lewis-Clark State Warriors clubbed their way to double-figure totals in hits and runs. But for a change, it wasn't enough to net them a victory.
That's because Faulkner University, the team in the dugout opposite LCSC on Tuesday night, swings the bat pretty darn capably, too. The Warriors, and the 2,890 fans at Harris Field, found that out firsthand.
The second-seeded Eagles from Alabama slugged 14 hits, including a pair of home runs, en route to a 12-10 victory over fourth-seeded LCSC in Game 15 of the Avista-NAIA World Series.
The Eagles, 51-13 on the season, are now the only remaining unbeaten team in the field. They can claim a spot in the championship round with a win over St. Thomas (Fla.), the tournament's No. 9 seed, on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m.
Despite collecting 11 base knocks of their own, the Warriors saw their record dip to 43-12. They will battle sixth-seeded Embry-Riddle (Fla.) in an elimination game Wednesday at 3 p.m.
"We've been here before," said LCSC coach Jeremiah Robbins, whose team has battled through the losers' bracket each of the last two years to make it to the title round. "You move forward and get ready for tomorrow and find a way to play them again."
The Warriors jumped out to a quick lead when they tallied three first-inning runs on four hits and a Faulkner error. Seth Brown, Max Whitt and Michael Sexton all notched run-scoring singles during the early barrage.
But the Eagles, as they would do all game long, furnished a response. They scored four times over the next two innings to take a 4-3 lead. Dario Polanco ignited the Faulkner offense with a two-run homer to right-center in the home half of the first.
LCSC seemed to seize control of the game in the fourth, when they produced a five-run salvo for an 8-4 advantage. Brown, who finished 3-for-5 with a triple, drove in two of the scores with a bases-loaded single to right.
"They competed, that's the thing I saw," Robbins said of his players. "It wasn't from lack of effort or focus. We just left some pitches up and they were ready for them. When you leave pitches up, good hitting teams will hurt you."
Indeed, the Eagles battered LCSC pitchers, scoring runs in all but two of their turns at the plate. Eight Faulkner batters finished with a hit, while four of them tallied two hits or more. Chris Madera led the way, going 4-for-5 with four runs scored, while Cody Sos went 2-for-5 with a solo home run.
Faulkner regained the lead with a three-run burst in the fourth and another three scores in the fifth, which Sos led off with his solo shot to left field. The Eagles also took advantage of three LCSC errors, which resulted in seven unearned runs.
Not a single Warrior hurler could slow the Faulkner attack. The Warriors used five pitchers in the game, with none lasting more than 2.2 innings. Bryce Jackson ended up with the loss, his first of the season.
"We were awful on the mound today," Robbins said. "We've got to be better, plain and simple. You've got to make pitches against good teams and we didn't make pitches when we needed them."
Despite allowing the Warriors to reach double-figure hits for the 43rd time this season, Faulkner starter Phillip Anderson did enough to collect his ninth win of the year. The right-handed junior allowed nine runs on eight hits in his eight innings on the mound. He surrendered just one walk to go with four strikeouts.
"He is a good arm and he was pitching well," Robbins said. "His slider really got better as the game went on, and we just were swinging and missing or being late with it. We kind of backed away from an aggressive approach as the game went and I don't know why."
The Warriors trailed 12-8 entering the eighth inning, but a solo home run in the eighth by Sexton and an RBI single by Ty Jackson in the ninth seemed to provide a glimmer of hope. LCSC even brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the ninth before Faulkner reliever Alejandro Castro forced Whitt to fly out to center field to quash the threat, earning his 11 save of the season in the process.
"We've got to come out tomorrow and forget this one," Robbins said. "We've got to move forward and prepare for Embry-Riddle because I know they want a shot at us."