Lower Columbia College showed patience by coaxing a combined 18 walks, and the Red Devils found pitches to their liking with 23 hits. Three home runs, including a grand slam, highlighted the big day at the plate in a baseball doubleheader sweep of Grays Harbor on Saturday.
LCC won the first game of the West Region twinbill at David Story Field 16-3 in seven innings, and claimed the nightcap 12-1 in five innings. The Red Devils, ranked third in the NWAC and 23rd in the ABCA—Junior College Pacific Associations Division Baseball Poll, are now 19-5, 6-1 in the region.
The losses pushed the Chokers’ losing skid to 22 games as they fell to 1-22, 0-7 in the region.
“It’s amazing,” LCC coach Eddie Smith said. “It took 100 years to figure out how important the walk is offensively. It’s a skill and shows patience, and can accomplish a lot. We capitalized on them with timely hits.”
The Devils had only three walks in the nightcap, but made up for it with big hits. None of LCC’s hits were bigger than Cameron Campbell’s grand slam in the fourth inning off Harbor reliever Brandon Rogers.
Tyson Johnson started for the Chokers, but was lifted after he loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a single to start the fourth. Campbell launched Rogers’ first pitch into the left-field bullpen for his circuit clout.
“It was a fastball a little inside, and that’s what I was looking for,” said Campbell, a sophomore from Ellensburg. “You’re always looking for a good first pitch from a guy coming out of the bullpen because they don’t want to get behind.”
Campbell’s blast was part of a five-run fourth inning and a 12-1 lead. Devils’ starter Taylor Davis needed nine pitches in the fifth to retire the Chokers and end the game early via the mercy rule. Davis threw a three-hitter with three strikeouts.
“Taylor has an electric arm, and he’s getting better every week,” Smith said. “We recruited him hard because we knew he could be a legitimate dual threat. He’s also a good guy to be around, which is important.”
LCC had 12 hits, with Steve Robinson slapping a pair of two-run doubles. JT Strickler had two doubles and scored twice, and Jordan Barchus had a single, double and two RBI.
In the opener, Devils’ starter Nick Tabura allowed two hits and struck out 10 through four innings when he ran into trouble. The fifth inning was a different story for the sophomore lefty from Kapaa, Hawaii, who walked the first two batters, and loaded the bases when he hit the third.
Tom Gomez came out of the bullpen and stopped the bleeding, allowing two runs. He tossed the final three innings, allowing two hits and striking out one.
“Tom did a good job filling zone and competing,” Smith said. “He’s come on in his last two outings, and it’s good to see.”
The Devils led 3-0 going into the fourth inning where they scored four times on a two-run homer from Ricky Muzzy, and a two-run single by Davis. Muzzy, who led off the game with a triple, also hit a two-run double in the sixth to finish a single shy of the cycle.
“I was hitting the ball hard so I’m not frustrated about the single,” said Muzzy, a freshman from Freeland, Wash. “I was seeing the ball really well and that’s the big thing. If you can see it well, you can hit it well.”
LCC exploded for nine runs in the sixth inning as they sent 15 batters to the plate. The big hit was a two-run homer to right field by Barchus.
The Devils walked 15 times and had 11 hits off three Harbor pitchers. Davis and Kyle Sandstrom each hit a two-run double, and Campbell walked and scored three times.
“All week we asked ourselves: how good are we as a team?” Smith added. “There were a lot of good things on the field today, and we did a good job imposing our will.”
The Red Devils visit Grays Harbor for a doubleheader at Hoquiam’s Olympic Stadium today.