LONGVIEW, Washington — The Roadrunners baseball team begins their quest for back-to-back NWAC championships this Thursday, May 25, when they take on Columbia Basin in the playoffs. They play at 12:35 p.m.
The NWAC Baseball Championship runs May 25-29 at David Story Field at Lower Columbia College in Longview.
The Roadrunners (28-16, 23-13 in South Region) are the number one seed from the South Region and earned an automatic berth into the Championship Tournament. Columbia Basin (34-18, 19-9 in East Region) earned its spot by winning the East Super Regional with two wins over Pierce College.
Should the Beaks prevail in their contest against Columbia Basin, then they will take on either Bellevue or Tacoma on Friday, May 26 at 4:35 p.m. The tournament, which is double elimination, gives each team an extra shot to take home the trophy via the consolation bracket. Whoever wins the consolation bracket will have the chance to fight in the championship bracket in Game 14.
Either the championship is determined in Game 14, or a Game 15 is played for all the marbles.
The Roadrunners drove home 208 runs in 44 games, had a batting average of .266, crushed 5 home runs and had an on-base percentage of .346. Columbia Basin had 328 runs in 49 games, a batting average of .260 and an on-base percentage of .383 with 10 home runs of their own.
In conference play, Columbia Basin averaged 8.31 hits per game while the Beaks averaged 8.17.
It is a close matchup on paper, though the Roadrunners swept Columbia Basin during the regular season 2-0 with a combined run count of 17-8.
LB will need a strong performance from its pitching staff if the college wants to advance. In wins, the Roadrunners posted an average ERA of 1.61 while allowing 4.22 in losses.
In addition to this, the Beaks will be hoping to steal bases, one of the most powerful predictors of the team’s performance this season. In wins, LB stole an average of 2.32 bases per game, while stealing only 0.88 bases per game in losses. That three-fold difference may well be the difference between going home early and another NWAC trophy.
The team will be led at home plate by LB’s Big Four: hitters Titus Dumitru, Trey Nelson, Cole Cramer and Aidan Dougherty. Together they accounted for 97 of LB’s 174 RBI for the season. Contributing more than half of the RBI for the team means that they will be needed to produce.
They also scored more than half of the team’s 208 total runs for the season, reaching home plate a combined 118 times, or 56.73% of the Roadrunner total.
Displaying their value further is the fact that the Big Four suffered only 78 of the team’s 218 strikeouts on the season, or about 35%. Incredibly, they also tallied 63.29% (50 of 79) of the team’s stolen bases for the season. Finally, the Big Four tallied more than half of the team’s total hits, 192 of 368, or 52.17%.
With only 43.25% of the team’s at bats, the Big Four certainly punched above their weight in getting to home plate and getting others there as well.
Baseball is a team sport, and if the Roadrunners want to win and keep winning, then they will have to empower one another to advance to extra bases, have the pitching staff throw plenty of strikeouts, and get a postseason to remember from the Big Four.
As the defending champions of the NWAC, the sky’s the limit for the 2023 Linn-Benton baseball team.
All games will be available via pay-per-view broadcast on the NWAC Sports Network. More information and the complete tournament bracket can be found on the Baseball Championship can be found on the NWAC website.