By Myles Bridgewater-Jackman
Sports Information Student Assistant
PORTLAND, Ore. - A pre-game ceremony honoring 10 graduating players on Sunday's "Senior Day" preceded a hard fought, back and forth game between Lewis & Clark and the George Fox Bruins. The Pioneers came from behind twice, scoring all six runs with two outs, to win the final match of the three-game series, 6-3.
Scoring got started in the top of the second inning when George Fox capitalized on a hit-by-pitch and an error. Alex Heimbrodt hit Jake Thran, the first batter of the inning, with a 1-1 curveball that broke too far in on the batter. The next Bruin squared up to bunt and popped the ball directly to Heimbrodt. The Pio starter attempted to double off the runner at first, but instead overthrew the ball, allowing the Thran to advance to second. The runner advanced another base on a 3-1 put out that featured a diving stop by Hayden Higger. Heimbrodt worked two-strike counts against the next two batters, but was unable to retire them. A walk gave way to a perfectly executed two-out, hit and run. With the runner going from first, Brandon Wileman smacked a single to center, driving in Thran. Heimbrodt stopped the scoring as quickly as it began, inducing a groundout to short with his next pitch.
Tommy Massari came close to tying up the game in the bottom of the second, but had to settle for a ringing double off the wall, as his base hit was knocked two feet short of a home run.
The Bruins threatened in the fourth inning, as two George Fox runners stood in scoring position with one out. Wileman worked a 3-1 count against Heimbrodt but instead of loading the bases, he swung at a pitch down and away chipping a low foul ball to the right side. Higger, running full speed, laid out for another diving play to retire the batter in foul territory and keep the runners from scoring. Heimbrodt induced another fly ball in foul territory to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Andrew Traver couldn't get out of the way when starting pitcher, Taylor Dunn came in and hit the cleanup hitter on his left hand. Traver, clearly in pain, threw down his bat and grasped his hand as he walked down toward first base. Traver was removed from the game but stayed in the dugout after immobilizing the injury.
The Pioneers rallied around their injured DH and tacked two runs to the board in the fifth. Higger got things started, roping the first pitch he saw into left for a leadoff single. He then moved up to third on two consecutive groundouts. Dunn came close to retiring the side unscathed, but after a 10 pitch at bat, Eric Hyun worked a two-out walk to make way for Michael Kinkenon. On the third pitch of the at bat, Kinkenon grounded a ball between short and third. The shortstop fielded the ball and threw on to first but the throw was just late as the senior catcher legged out an RBI infield single to tie the score, 1-1. Sean Shepherd, who replaced Traver in the fourth, laced a single into left, which plated Hyun for the first Lewis & Clark lead of the day.
George Fox battled back and lead off the next inning with a single and a walk. The runners moved to second and third on a double steal before Brandon Wileman grounded a ball to second. What looked like the first out of the inning was misplayed by the second baseman and the throw onto first was late. The runners each advanced a base knotting the score at two.
The Pios threatened again in the sixth but failed to score, while the Bruins recaptured the lead in the top half of the seventh. Riley McKean walked on four straight and was moved over to second on a sac bunt before Ansel Webster hit an RBI single to right, to reclaim the lead 3-2.
Three batters later, Heimbrodt battled back from a two-out jam with runners at second and third to retire the side with a K and keep the game within one. Heimbrodt turned in a gritty performance, consistently working out of jams, and stranded 12 runners on base in his seven inning outing.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Pioneer bats once again rallied with two outs. With Kinkenon at third and Shepherd at second, Connor Eggleston grounded a pitch down the third base line, rolling foul. However, the ball hit a patch of dirt and rolled back into fair territory. Third baseman Mason Dunning fielded the ball but threw errantly to first, pulling the first baseman off the bag, allowing the tying run to score and Shepherd to move on to third. Massari followed Eggleston's at bat with a low pop to center. Center fielder, Kadyn Nannini came sprinting in but couldn't make the sliding grab. Another run scored and the Pioneers regained the lead 4-3.
With his starter in line for the win, Coach Flynn made a call to the bullpen to bring in relief pitcher, Blake Howell. Howell allowed a single to start off the inning but his batterymate erased the runner on a stolen base attempt for the second out of the inning. Two pitches later, Howell retired the side with a strikeout.
L&C added some insurance in the bottom of the eighth. For the fifth time in the game, the Pioneers would two-out rally to drive men across the plate. Back to back singles placed Hyun and Kinkenon at first and second before George Fox would make a pitching change. Sean Shepherd worked the count full, including a wild pitch that sent the runners to the left half of the infield. On payoff pitch, Shepherd hit a soft liner into left-center. Hyun came in to score and Kinkenon rounded third. The throw by the center fielder was on line, but Michael beat out the throw to the plate, securing a three run lead going into the top of the ninth.
Howell came back out for his second inning and shut the door, retiring the final three on a double play and fly out to center.
The Pioneers travel to Linfield for a single game matchup at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.