The Raiders had high hopes of re-capturing the NWAACC championship going into the start of Thursday’s tournament play at Storey Field, on the campus of Lower Columbia College. Pierce, who won the West Division title on the final day of the regular season against cross-town rival Tacoma, and 12 of their final 13 league games, came into the tournament as a favorite to be playing on Championship Monday.
The Raiders cruised to a 5-0 victory over Columbia Basin on opening day Thursday, behind a sensational pitching performance by sophomore Ryan Schmitten. Schmitten – who will take his talents to the University of Washington next year – scattered 8 hits and struck out 4, over 8 innings, and was never really threatened. West Division MVP DJ Gee, was the offensive star, going 4 for 4 while driving in 3 runs. Jeff Nelson and Jarred Prather each had two hits on the day.
Following their strong showing in the opener on Thursday, the Raiders advanced to play North Division champs, Edmonds CC, on Day 2. What was billed as a ‘preview to Championship Monday’ did not disappoint the fans in attendance. Leftie Darrien Moran (bound for Western Oregon University next year) shut down the Tritons high-powered offense, allowing just 3 hits through the first 6 innings. Edmonds picked up 3 runs in the top of the 7th inning, to take a 3-0 lead. But, the Raiders responded with 3 runs of their own in the bottom of the 7th, on 6 straight hits. Edmonds scored 3 runs in the top of the 10th inning off reliever Tyson Erickson, and the Raiders were unable to answer, falling 6-3. Leo Valenti went 3 for 5 on the day, and Jarred Prather went 2 for 4.
Saturday’s “loser out” match up with West Division foe Tacoma proved to be the season finale for Pierce. Sophomore starter Cole Uvila threw a 1-hitter over his six innings of work, striking out 10, but allowing 7 walks, and giving up 2 runs.
Matt Fish came on in relief in the 7th and gave up 2 runs. The Raiders loaded the bases with 2 outs in the top of the 8th, only to have Luke Heyer’s drive to left field caught on the warning track to end the threat. The offense could only manage only 6 hits on the day, and the Raiders fell to Tacoma, 4-2, taking 5th Place at the tournament, and ending their quest for a second NWAACC title in 3 years.
Pierce finishes the 2014 campaign with a record of 28-13, which included a stellar 22-3 regular season record, and the team’s 4th straight West Division title.