LEWISTON, Idaho — Considering the do-or-die circumstances, Ty Jackson pitched arguably his most determined game of the season. Not only that, the junior provided all the offense the Lewis-Clark State baseball team would need to keep its championship hopes, and its season for that matter, alive.
Jackson pitched seven-plus shutout innings and even helped his own cause with a home run during the Warriors' 2-0 victory over Embry-Riddle in Game 16 of the Avista-NAIA World Series on Wednesday. The elimination tilt played out in front of 2,370 fans at Harris Field.
"He did exactly what he needed him to do," LCSC coach Jeremiah Robbins said of his ace. "Ty is our lead bull on the mound and he competed today. We're proud of him."
The Warriors, now 44-12 on the season, were coming off a gut-wrenching loss to Faulkner the night before. They will now get another crack at the Alabama school. The teams play again Thursday at 6:35 p.m.
"That's one locked in team right there," Robbins said of his players. "They were down last night, but they want to stay alive in this. We talked about, 'Hey, if we get in the losers' bracket, so what? Nine of these 16 national championships have been won with one loss, so we're going to fight.' "
Wednesday's tussle marked the seventh World Series meeting between LCSC and Embry-Riddle. Thanks, in no small part to Jackson, the Warriors now own a 4-3 edge in that matchup.
The 6-foot-3 righty's performance wasn't necessarily flawless, but it was gritty. Jackson put eight runners on base, and even allowed four of them to reach scoring position. But he made sure to strand them all.
The Eagles' biggest threat came in the seventh, when they placed runners at first and third with one out. Jackson promptly quashed the threat with a strikeout and a groundout to second.
Jackson pitched 7.2 innings, tossing 115 pitches in the process. He allowed just six hits and two walks while recording seven strikeouts. The effort bumped his record to 8-1 this year.
His counterpart, Embry-Riddle starter Tyler Cyr, was equally effective. The right-handed junior not only held the Warriors to only five hits, he struck out nine batters in his complete-game effort.
But Cyr made one mistake, and his fellow hurler made him pay. Jackson's solo home run to left-center field with two outs in the sixth inning broke a scoreless deadlock. It was his ninth homer of the season.
"When he locks in, he'll put a charge in that baseball," Robbins said. "And he locked in that last at-bat of his. What an effort by him on the mound and at the plate. He helped his own cause."
The Warriors added some insurance in the eighth when Seth Brown drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to left with the bases loaded. The inning started with a single by Zach Holley, who collected two of the Warriors' five hits.
A two-run cushion was more than enough for LCSC senior Beau Kerns, who earned his second save of the Series. The right-hander retired all four batters he faced, sending three of them back to the dugout via groundouts and one by strikeout.
This was the first time all season that Embry-Riddle had been shutout. The Eagles, who will move from the NAIA ranks to the NCAA Division II level next season, finished the year with a 41-19 record.