VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds (22-10, 12-7) exploded for a five-run seventh inning in a 9-6 win over the Lewis-Clark State Warriors (19-12, 10-7) Sunday afternoon at Thunderbird Park.
T-Birds first baseman Vinny Martin hit a two-run homer finishing the day with four RBI while Tyler Yorko came through with two hits on four at-bats scoring three times. Christian Botnick picked up the win pitching the fifth through eighth innings striking out five while allowing two runs on four hits.
"We kicked the ball around a little bit which was uncharacteristic but I think people couldn't help but be a little physically and mentally tired," said UBC head coach Chris Pritchett after the team's fifth full game in the last three days.
"But our pitching was great, they didn't panic. People kept playing our game and towards the middle of the game we started swinging the bats a little bit and got some momentum and never looked back."
The T-Birds officially played as the visiting team for the series finale which was a make-up game for a rain-out in Lewiston at the end of February.
Much like both games Saturday, the Warriors put up runs early taking a 4-0 lead at the end of the third.
JJ Robinson opened the scoring in the bottom of the second with his third long ball of the weekend, a solo shot over the fence in left-centre field. Then a pair of fielding errors led to two more runs crossing the plate.
The 'Birds got some momentum on their side in the top of the fourth starting with Mitch Robinson who reached first on a Warriors throwing error. UBC took full advantage as Yorko stepped up to the plate and doubled. Mackenzie Parlow then grounded out to short allowing Robinson to score the first UBC run of the game.
The 'Birds kept rolling and pulled within a run when Martin hammered his homer over the left field fence.
"When everybody's swinging well it kind of makes it easier," said the veteran first baseman.
"The whole weekend we swung it well and today I just kind of got lucky and put one out, it was a good day overall."
After a scoreless fifth inning, UBC tied the game in the top of the sixth when Martin earned his third RBI of the game with a single up the middle to bring Yorko across the plate.
But the real wild stuff came in the seventh when the T-Birds scored a total of five runs on just a single hit.
The 'Birds loaded the bases with none out and Nick Spillman coming up to bat. The second basemen managed to get to first on a throwing error as the ball took a strange bounce. Anthony Cusati was thrown out at home but Kyle McComb did cross safely as UBC took the 5-4 lead. Robinson was intentionally walked to once again load the bases but instead of getting the 'Birds to hit into a double play, a passed ball allowed Austen Butler to score. Matt Gorgolinski had been brought in to pitch the seventh for Lewis-Clark and his outing got even worse when he was called for a balk allowing yet another UBC run to score. Robinson later scored on a Martin sacrifice fly while the 'Birds got their fifth run of the inning when Yorko stole home.
"They usually capitalize on any mistakes we make so we have to do the same thing and we were able to do that," added Martin.
Lewis-Clark got two runs back in the bottom of the ninth but couldn't complete the comeback as the T-Birds won the season series against the Warriors while improving to 8-3 at home in conference play.
"If you know you have something solid to grab onto and know you have the ability to come back, they feel like they're in games no matter what," said Pritchett who believes his team is on the right track moving forward.
"We won the season series against a very good team and that's a confidence builder as well."
James Bradwell started on the mound for UBC going four innings with two earned runs on five hits and two strikeouts. Pat van den Brink pitched the ninth and picked up the save.
The 'Birds have a week off from game action before a trip to Salem, Ore., for a four-game series Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 15 against the Corban Warriors.