The Raiders completed their first-ever sweep of a season series with perennial NWAACC powerhouse, Lower Columbia College, this weekend, and vaulted to the top of the standing in the West Division. Coming into the weekend, the Red Devils were riding a 22 game winning streak, were leading the West, were ranked #1 in the NWAACC, and were ranked #3 on the West Coast in the most recent ABCA Coaches Poll. Our Raiders, the defending NWAACC Champions, and two-time defending West Division title holders, have struggled for recognition in the early season polls. First year head coach Kevin Davis likes flying a bit under the radar this season. “It’s hard enough being the defending NWAACC Champs, especially as a first year coach. In some ways, this year’s team isn’t as good as last year’s crew. In other ways, we’re better. Our goal right now, is to keep the team in playoff contention.”
The Raiders hosted LCC on Saturday, in what proved to be a marathon battle with the elements. Three rain delays in game 1, totalling nearly 2 hours, almost suspended the days play. But the Raider grounds crew did a masterful job of keeping the field playable after each stoppage. The Raiders took the opener, 8-3, behind a great pitching effort by Darrien Moran. Moran pitched through the 7th inning, allowing 3 earned runs, striking out 7, while walking just one. Firstbaseman Wes Hoskins (who played at LCC last season), continued his torrid hitting pace, going 2-4, with 2 doubles and 3 RBI’s. Hoskins second double on the day, came with the bases loaded, and missed clearing the fence in left-center field by inches. SS Brett Oyer led off the Raiders’ first inning with a triple to dead center field, and the inning ended with Pierce leading 4-0. The Raiders added 4 more runs in the sixth inning, increasing their lead to 8-1. Cole Uvila came on to relieve Moran in the 8th inning, and pitched 2 innings of lights out ball, picking up 4 strikeouts. LF Jeff Nelson picked up 2 RBI’s, and Lee Larson drove in one run to tie Hoskins for the team lead with 20. Moran improved his record to 5-1, with a 2.09 ERA. He upped his strikeout total to 50, over 51 2/3 innings.
The weather cleared a bit for the second game of the doubleheader, as Raider ace, Elliot Morris added another gem to his already impressive record of performances this season, as Pierce finished off the home sweep with a 3-0 win. Morris threw the complete game, spreading 6 hits over the 7 innings for the shutout victory. Morris, who ranks second in the NWAACC in strikeouts, fanned 12 Red Devils, while giving up just 2 walks, and improved his record on the season to 3-1, including 2 shutouts. His earned run average dropped to a dazzling 0.88. SS Brett Oyer scored the Raiders’ first run in the 3rd inning. After leading off the inning with a double, he stole 3rd base, and came home on a passed ball. The Raiders gave Morris 2 more insurance runs in the bottom of the 6th inning, Jeff Nelson led off the ining with a double, and scored 2 pitches later on an RBI single by Wes Hoskins. Hoskins advanced to second on a single by Michael Sherwin, and later scored on a wild pitch. The win capped the first-ever doubleheader sweep of LCC by a Raider Baseball team.
The two teams squared off again on Sunday, in Longview, for the final games of the season series. Sam Shadle took the mound for the Raiders against the Red Devils’ ace, Nick Lemoncelli. The result was a complete game battle by both pitchers, with Shadle coming out the victor, as the Raiders used the 2 hits and one walk given up by Lemoncelli for the lone run of the game. Jeff Nelson was hit by a pitch to open the 4th inning, and later came around to score on Michael Sherwin’s RBI single. DJ Elmer led off the Raiders’ 5th inning with a double, the team’s only other hit for the game. Shadle allowed 7 hits by LCC, while striking out 12, and had to battle out of two bases loaded situations to hold the Red Devils scoreless for the game. The complete game shutout victory improved Shadle’s record to 5-0, and lowered his ERA to 2.38.
Game 2 was a different story, as the Raider bats came alive, rapping out 17 hits, and driving LCC starter Michael Sullivan to the showers before the end of the 1st inning. The Raiders sent 10 men to the plate in the 1st, scoring 6 runs. LCC answered in their half of the inning with six runs of their own, off starter Levi Goodin. However, Josh McCoy came on to relieve Goodin to start the second, and threw 6 innings of shutout ball. The Raider onslaught continued as they pushed across 4 more runs in the 2nd inning, 2 in the 3rd, and their 13th and final run in the 4th inning, finishing with a 13-6 win to seal the historic weekend sweep. Jeff Nelson and Deven Kaaiwela led the Raider attack with 3 hits apiece, with Kaaiwela driving in 2 runs. Oyer, Hoskins, VanSlyke, Elmer, and Kim all had 2 hits apiece. McCoy, the Raiders’ back up catcher, had his best outing of the season in relief, holding the usually potent LCC offense to 2 hits over his 6 innings.
The Raiders, now in 1st Place in the West, 2 games ahead of LCC and 2 1/2 ahead of TCC, improved their league record to 10-2, and 19-9 overall. The team has the West Division bye this weekend, and return to action at home on Saturday, April 27, when they host Centralia College. First pitch at 1:00 p.m.