Devils' Due

LCC pitcher Taylor Davis bore down on the Mount Hood batters from the start in the Red Devils’ opening game of the NWAC tournament. Davis pitched seven innings for the victory as Lower Columbia beat the Saints 10-1.

Bill Wagner, The Daily News

The game plan was simple, and it played out to perfection.

Have starting pitcher Taylor Davis go as long as he could, and have the offense be aggressive at the plate and on the base paths.

Davis allowed one run through seven innings, and Travis Paynter tossed two no-hit relief innings as Lower Columbia College rolled Mount Hood 10-1 in the first round of the NWAC Baseball Championships on Thursday at David Story Field.

"The key for us was to add runs after the second inning," LCC coach Eddie Smith said of the Devils' four-run second inning. "We wanted to preserve our bullpen, and we didn't have to run Taylor out there for a ton of pitches. This allows us to bring him back on Monday."

In Thursday's other games, Columbia Basin edged Tacoma 2-1, Walla Walla handled Linn-Benton 10-3, and Everett edged Lane, 3-2.

In today's loser-out games, Tacoma meets Linn-Benton at 9:35 a.m., and Lane plays Mount Hood at 12:35 p.m. In quarterfinal matchups, Columbia Basin meets Walla Walla at 4:35, and Everett faces Lower Columbia at 7:35.

The double-elimination tournament continues through the weekend, and concludes with the championship game on Monday.

After going down quietly in the first inning, the Devils came back with a vengence. They parlayed four hits, a walk and a hit batter into a 4-0 lead. Corey Conklin coaxed a bases-loaded walk for one run, Ricky Muzzy hit a two-run single into center field, and JT Strickler followed with a RBI single.

In the fourth, LCC again loaded the bases with no outs, and plated four runs highlighted by an RBI single from Muzzy, a two-run double by Cameron Campbell, and a run-scoring ground out from Strickler.

Muzzy had two of LCC's 11 hits and drove in three runs.

"I was getting fastballs up which are easy to hit," he said. "I didn't fall behind in the count, and worked my way into counts which got me the high fastballs."

While the Devils were hitting their way through the Hood pitching staff, Davis continued to do his thing. The sophomore from Federal Way threw 64 of his 97 pitches for strikes while scattering eight hits and striking out three.

"Taylor did a good job filling up the zone and attacking all game," Smith said. "When you come into an environment like this where there is so much electricity and such a great crowd, you're curious to see how the team responds. They played our brand of baseball, and had the poise to stick with what we do."

Conklin finished with two hits and scored three times, with Steve Robinson and Kyle Sandstrom scoring two runs apiece.

"We want to get good ball reads, steal bases and get free 90s whenever we can," Muzzy added. "We're rolling now and playing good ball. We need to keep doing what we're doing, and we'll be all right."

Saints' starter Connor Stevenson allowed six hits through three innings in taking the loss. Jason Garcia and Thomas Lampkin, the son of former MLB catcher Tom Lampkin, collected two hits apiece. Gavin Henderson added a double.

Columbia Basin 2, Tacoma 1

A two-out error in the bottom of the ninth inning pushed the Hawks into the tournament quarterfinals.

Isaiah Hatch slapped a one-out base hit, moved to second on a ground out, and scored when Michael Wyatt launched a fly ball to right field. Wyatt's fly was misplayed by Tacoma right fielder, which allowed Wyatt to score.

Hatch had three of the Hawks' four hits and scored twice. Hunter French scattered five hits and struck out four in the complete-game effort.

The Titans had five hits, with Kenton Robillard slapping a double, and Taylor Adams adding a hit and an RBI. Garrett Westberg scattered four hits and struck out eigh through 8 1/3 innings, and Jeffrey Lusink absorbed the loss in relief.

Walla Walla 10, Linn-Benton 3

The Warriors trailed 3-1 after five innings when they came alive with four runs in the sixth in the opening round victory.

Walla Walla collected eight hits. Larry DeWitt was 3-5 with a double and two runs scored, Brandon Wagstaff was 2-5 with 4 RBIs, and Colton Peha was 2-3 with two runs scored. Josh Kutzke was 1-2 with four walks, Quentin Lafontaine had three RBIs, Futa Ikuma and Robby Heiberg scored three and two runs, respectively. Jarrod Molnaa scattered seven hits and struck out 11 in the victory.

Linn-Benton had seven hits. Jack Bauer was 2-4 with a solo homer, Colton Cosner had a triple, and Joshua Congdon added a double. Travis Sanders allowed three runs on four hits, five walks and struck out four through five innings for the loss. Four other Titans relieved, combining to allow six runs on four hits, six walks and struck out one through four innings.

Everett 3, Lane 2

Nic Anderson's solo homer in the fourth inning proved to be the game-winning hit as the Trojans moved on to the tournament quarterfinals.

Lane scored solo runs in the third and sixth innings, but left the bases loaded in the sixth, and baserunners in scoring position in the eighth and ninth.

Everett took a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a two-run double from Bryce Steckler. The Trojans had seven hits, with Steckler going 3-4, and Peyton Cordova-Smith chipped in a double and two walks.

Curtis Bafus pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and striking out six for the win, and Ryan Sandifer tossed 3 2/3 inning of one-hit relief for the save.

Lane had nine hits, with Tony Ortiz going 2-4 with a solo homer in the third inning. Boone Cesarez allowed three runs on six hits through five innings for the loss, and Ortiz pitched three innings of one-hit relief.

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Rick is a 29-year veteran of The Daily News, and the lead Lower Columbia College athletics reporter. In addition, he tracks former area prep athletes and assists several other beats. He is a Mark Morris grad with a business management degree from LCC.

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