Some team slink in Harris Field in Lewiston, Id.
And slink out.
Harris Field is home to perennial champion Lewis-Clark Warriors, defending NAIA champs. Last year’s title was there 17th national championships, including their first crown in 1984.
The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds walked in for a four-game weekend series.
And they walked out chests stuck out, heads high as if they walking to the podium on Oscar night ... after the presenter got all of their names right.
First, the T-Birds won the opener, a 6-3, extra-inning decision, then lost the opener of the doubleheader 3-1 decision. And in the nitecap, UBC scored nine runs in the fifth on the way to a 20-14 victory. The finale of the four-game series was rained out.
The UBC 20-14 triumph was a historic night as Lewis-Clark let a 10-run lead slip away and the 10-run lost-lead was the largest in history, breaking the previous record of eight runs back in 1988 and 1981. The 20 runs allowed were the most allowed by an LC team in a nine-inning game. The old record, 19, was a lost to UNLV at Las Vegas 19-9 in 1980.
All in all, not a bad trip to visit the No. 1 ranked, defending champs.
The T-Birds came out on top in a back and forth battle with three runs in extras. After a single, walk, infield single to load the bases Kyle McComb (Surrey, BC) delivered with a two-run single to right scoring Griffy Goyer (Burnaby, BC) and John Whaley (Oakville, BC). Next was a scoring fly ball by Anthony Olson (Edmonton, Alta.) bringing home Nick Spillman.
UBC went in front to a 2-0 lead on an RBI double by Mitch Robinson (Surrey, BC) followed by an RBI single from Vinny Martin (Pender Island, BC). The T-Birds added one more in the seventh thanks to another RBI double from Robinson. Lewis and Clark battled back to score three in the bottom of the eighth after two hit batters, an RBI double, and an error.
Connor Noble (Vancouver, BC) was dominant on the mound going six strong innings giving up no runs on two hits while striking out five. Patrick Van Den Brink (Vancouver, BC) threw the a scoreless seventh, Liam Stroud (Maple Ridge, BC) retired the first two hitters, then hit two batters, allowed a double and an error tied the score. Christian Botnick (Brampton, Ont.) threw the final 2 1/3 innings scoreless for the win. Botnick went three-up, three-down against Warriors first baseman Seaver Whalen, designated hitter J.J. Robinson, and right fielder Tyler McDowell.
Braeden Allemann (Surrey, BC) and and Olson each had a pair of hits, while McComb doubled and singled.
UBC’s Robinson continued his torrid hitting pace in 2017 by launching a solo home run in the top of the third. He would be the only T-Bird to cross the plate during the game.
In the bottom of the third, a Niall Windeler (Toronto, Ont.) wild pitch, directly followed by a Allemann wild throw, allowed Lewis-Clark leadoff hitter Raymond Pedrina to advance from first to third. Pedrina then scored on Matt Thompson’s fly ball.
The Warriors would added single runs in the fourth and six innings
Lewis-Clark starting pitcher Connor Brogdon shut the door on the ‘Birds after the Robinson dinger, scattering eight hits over seven innings and allowing just one earned run to take the victory. Warrior closer Anthony Balderas, who spent the summer with the Okotoks Dawgs, pitched a perfect eighth and ninth innings to earn the save. Mason Verge (Vancouver, BC) doubled and singled in a run for the Warriors.
Windeler allowed the three Lewis-Clark runs over five innings pitched to take the loss. CF Austen Butler (Port Coquitlam, BC) and Martin each had a pair of hits.
A wild comeback, keyed by a fifth inning offensive explosion earned the Thunderbirds a split in the doubleheader by even player’s parents had to be apprehensive during the early going. Lewis-Clark scored 11 runs over the first four innings and chased UBC starter Tyler Gillies (London, Ont.), eventually moving in front 11-1.
Birds bats exploded in the top of the fifth, a Martin RBI triple keying a nine run rally, in an inning that saw UBC bring 13 batters to the plate. Anthony Cusati (Burnaby, BC) hit a three-run homer. Martin singled, doubled and tripled knocking in four runs.
But the ‘Birds weren’t done yet. They went on to score six more runs in the sixth inning and four runs in the eighth.
UBC pitcher Brad Smith (Vancouver, BC), who took for Gillies, held the fort for UBC and van den Brink came in to pitch the ninth against the top of the Lewis-Clark order. After plunking Raymond Pedrina, Van Den Brink got Evan Douglas to pop out and then struck out Gunner Buhner.
Martin finished with four RBIs on the day, while Spillman and Cusati drove in three apiece for the ‘Birds. Mackenzie Parlow (Qualicum Beach, BC), Geoff Ehresman (Vancouver, BC) and Spillman each doubled.
Spillman had three hits and two RBIs, Robinson had two hits while Justin Orton (Essex, Ont.), Parlow and Ehresman each had two hits and knocked in a pair.
The game saw 34 runs, 29 hits and five fielding errors.
_ With files from Len Catling