Prior to Saturday's matchup with Walla Walla, Lower Columbia College coach Eddie Smith talked to his troops about the importance to getting the offense going early.
Devils' second baseman Ricky Muzzy took Smith's words to heart, slapping the first pitch of the game to right-center field for a triple. The three-bagger was the first of LCC's 12 hits as the Devils rolled Walla Walla 13-3 in the third day of the NWAC Baseball Championships held Saturday at David Story Field.
In Saturday's other games, Lane eliminated Columbia Basin 3-2, and Everett sent home Tacoma 8-7 in 15 innings.
On Sunday, Everett faces Walla Walla at 12:05 p.m., and Lane meets Lower Columbia, the tournament's lone undefeated team, at 4:05. The tournament concludes Monday with the championship game beginning at 12:05 p.m.
"Ricky did a good job getting us started," Smith said. "That's why we have him at the top of the lineup. He packs a little punch."
The Devils parlayed four hits, a walk and a hit batter into a three-run first inning, and the rout was on. In the third inning, LCC loaded the bases for Steve Robinson, who clubbed a bases-clearing triple as part of a four-run frame and a 7-0 lead.
"The guys pieced together a number of good at-bats," Smith said. "Before games like this we talk about getting after it from the first pitch, and we did a good job of that."
Robinson added a two-run double in the fourth inning, and Jordan Barchus swatted a bases-clearing triple in the fifth for a 13-0 lead.
The run support was more than enough for Devils' starter Nick Tabura, who allowed two hits, struck out nine batters and walked five through six innings for the win.
"I tried to throw strikes, and I focused on nothing other than throwing strikes," said Tabura, a sophomore from Kapaa, Hawaii. "It makes it really easy when we're putting up runs like that. Our team energy was really good."
Tabura threw 68 of his 117 pitches for strikes.
"That's the guy we've always hoped he would be," Smith said of Tabura. "He has electric stuff, and no one wants to hit against a guy like that. To punch out nine guys in six innings, that's the reason why he's getting big-time opportunities at the next level."
Walla Walla got on the scoreboard in the sixth inning with a two-run double from Kealen Martin, and got an RBI double from Futa Ikuma in the ninth inning.
Trevor Huddleston added two singles, two RBIs and scored twice for LCC. Corey Conklin had two singles, and JT Strickler had a single and was hit by two pitches.
Lane 3, Columbia Basin 2: Bryce Mulcahy slapped a two-out, two-run single in the top of the eighth inning to plate the game-tying and game-winning runs for the Titans.
Columbia Basin broke up a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out RBI single from Zeb Chamberlain.
Lane collected eight hits, with Mulcahy, Tony Ortiz and Jayden Hanna hitting two apiece. Austin Crowson allowed five hits and struck out four through seven innings for the win, and Jalen Fuhriman tossed two no-hit inning with two strikeouts for the save.
Columbia Basin finished with five hits. Chamberlain was 2-4, and Michael Wyatt chipped in a triple. Hunter Mulderig allowed six hits and struck out three in 5 1/3 innings before yielding to Austin Bergdahl, who absorbed the loss after tossing 2 1/3 innings of two-hit ball with four strikeouts.
Everett 8, Tacoma 7 (15 inn.): The longest game in NWAC history in terms of innings played ended on a passed ball.
In the bottom of the 15th inning, Bryce Steckler singled, moved to third on a walk and a stolen base, and scored on a wild pitch issued by Tacoma reliever Brandon Reynolds.
The game, which lasted five hours and 25 minutes, featured a combined 25 hits, 20 walks, 11 hit batters, and no errors.
Everett collected 14 hits. Steckler was 3-7 with three runs scored, Nic Anderson was 2-4 with a double and two RBIs, and Trent Tinglestad slapped two doubles. Chase Hacker tossed an inning of scoreless relief for the victory.
The Titans had 11 hits. Quinn Rawson had two hits including a home run and four RBIs, and Collin Wolf, Taylor Adams and Peter Perkins added two hits apiece. Reynolds tossed 1 1/3 innings of relief in absorbing the loss.
Former Naselle standout Nick Strange pitched 6 1/3 relief innings for Tacoma, allowing three hits and striking out five.