Roadrunners Win NWAC Baseball Championship
LONGVIEW, Washington – The Linn-Benton Baseball Team defeated Mt. Hood Community College 4-1 to win the Northwest Athletic Conference Baseball Championship on Tuesday, May 31.
In the game, the Roadrunners started off with the first blow. Ruben Cedillo hit a two-out double, then came around to score off two wild pitches by Saints pitcher Jeff Nelson. Nelson was virtually flawless after those two mistakes, giving up only 3 hits until the eighth inning.
The Saints were able to even the score in the bottom half of the third with a single by left fielder Mason Deverna. There was a bit of controversy early, when Saints Brady Majewski came around to score off Deverna’s single, and his teammate Rikuu Nishida wasn’t far behind. On a bang-bang play Roadrunner catcher Jake Morrow applied the tag as Nishida slid into home plate. Nishida was ruled out, and the Saints challenged the call. After review, the umpires upheld the call on the field.
In the top half of the eighth inning the Roadrunners were finally able to get to Nelson. A fielder’s choice sacrifice RBI by Roadrunner Emiliano Alarcon allowed Jake Hoskins to come in and score the eventual winning run. A Roadrunner Cayden Delzoier ground ball led to a throwing error by Nashida, allowing two more runs to score.
Roadrunner pitchers Rhett Larson dominated on the mound. Larson started the game on for the Roadrunners. Larson went 5 innings, allowing 1 run on 6 hits, walking none, while striking out 4.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. All the 6 a.m. morning weights, and all the grinding that’s happened this season, it just feels so rewarding to finally get it done,” Larson said. “Nervousness was definitely there a little bit, but all you can do is battle down and get through it all.”
It didn’t get easier for the Saints as Roadrunner Head Coach Andy Peterson elected typical starting pitcher Kian Hogan to come on in relief of Larson.
Four days prior, Hogan went 7 innings, allowing only 2 hits in the Roadrunners playoff game against Edmonds Community College. In the championship game, he was once again dominant. Hogan went 4 innings, allowing no runs on 2 hits, walking 2, while striking out 4.
Hogan was awarded the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Trophy following the Roadrunners championship win.
“It feels incredible, just speechless about everything. I love all the boys and how hard we’ve worked all year,” Hogan said. “I put in a lot of work all year, and my whole life, and thank you to all the players … coaches … my family for supporting me in everything.”
After the game, multiple Roadrunners were awarded all-tournament first team. Peterson, who won his 100th game as head coach of the Roadrunners during the regular season, now has his first baseball championship as a coach.
“It’s the coolest feeling in the world, and those guys gave me everything, those are my little brothers. I’m still speechless, and I’m so happy for everything they’ve given me,” Peterson said. “He (Kian Hogan) dug deep and showed a big heart, especially coming back after a couple days’ rest.”
It’s been more than 730 days since the NWAC has been able to crown a new baseball champion. The Roadrunners will now take home their first baseball championship since 1991, and third all time. This is the second title of the year for Linn-Benton Community College. In the fall, the volleyball team won their first title in school history.