LEWISTON, Idaho – Devin Greco’s grand-slam home run with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning helped carry No. 1 seed and top-ranked Louisiana State University Shreveport to a 7-3 win over Lewis-Clark State College in loser-out play at the Avista NAIA World Series on Monday.
The loss brought an end to the Warriors’ season at 42-14. It’s also the fourth straight season the Warriors have gone 1-2 in Series play.
LCSC, seeded sixth in the tournament, jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the ballgame and had opportunities to do more damage, but LSU Shreveport, which led the NAIA in scoring at more than 8.5 runs per game, finally collected the big hit when needed. Entering the ninth inning, LSU Shreveport had stranded 10 runners, but Greco’s seventh home run of the season made sure the Pilots lived to see another day.
With the win, LSU Shreveport avoided becoming the first No. 1 seed to go 0-2 in the double-elimination tournament.
The ninth-inning rally started when Ridge Gonsoulin singled to right on a 0-1 count. Kyle Pearson followed with a double down the left-field line, which forced LCSC to intentionally walk Greg Friesen to set up a force out at home. Greco made it a moot point when he took the first pitch he saw from LCSC reliever Mitchell Wilhite and put it over the fence in left field.
Ironically, it’s the first walk-off grand-slam home run in Series history since 2003. With this year’s Series having the theme “Rally the Valley” area media and officials voted on the top 10 all-time rallies in Series games played at Lewiston and the top rally chosen was Will Guidebeck’s grand slam in the bottom of the ninth in 2003 to give Bellevue an 11-8 win over Biola. In that game, Bellevue trailed 8-0.
Lewis-Clark State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Eric Peterson led off with a single and Connor Moore drew a two-out walk. Aaron DeGuire was then hit by a pitch to load the bases and Jordan Payne blooped a single down the left-field line to score both Peterson and Moore.
The Warriors pushed the lead to 3-0 in the fourth. Braxton Miller opened with a single and went to second on a ground out by Billy Silvestri. Moore then ripped a single down the left-field line that score Miller, but Moore was thrown out at second trying to stretch the hit into a double.
Pentecost managed to stay out of trouble until the bottom of the sixth inning. After recording a strikeout to start the sixth, Pentecost gave up a double to Devin Greco, who was replaced by pinch-runner Cody Causey. Causey took third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Manny Estrada. Consecutive singles by Stephen Hobbins then singled on a hit-and-run play, which allowed Estrada to score. Hobbins took second on a late thrown to the plate. Kade Billeaudeaux followed with LSU Shreveport’s fourth straight hit, a single, to put runners at first and third. That ended the day for Pentecost, who was replaced by Mitchell Wilhite. Wilhite ended the threat by striking out the next two batters.
The Pilots tied the game in the bottom of the seventh when Kyle Pearson took a 2-2 pitch from Wilhite and put it over the fence in left-center field for a solo home run. It was Pearson’s 14th home run of the season.
LCSC put a runner on second, while LSU Shreveport advanced a baserunner to third in the eighth, but neither could come up with a key hit. In the ninth, the Warriors put a runner on first with one out, but couldn’t advance him.
Pearson, Friesen, Greco and Estrada had two hits apiece for the Pilots, who out-hit LCSC 12-7 in the game.
Pentecost went 5.1 innings and allowed seven hits and two runs. He also struck out five and walked three. Wilhite allowed five runs on five hits during his 2.2 innings. He struck out four and walked one.
LSU Shreveport starter Matt Lackie went the first seven innings and allowed five hits and three runs. He walked one and struck out four. Jake Kight (4-0) picked up the win. He pitched the final two innings and allowed two hits with one strikeout.