Jack Johnson has hit safely in every game for the Lewis-Clark State baseball team, and when asked to elaborate on his early-season success, he put it simply.

“I just like playing here,” said Johnson, a senior and first-year Warrior who was raised in Seattle and transferred this year from the University of Washington. “I’ve been hearing about this school since I was 8 years old, at the Bill Stubbs camps in Seattle. It’s just been fun to be here.”

With his Seattleite family in attendance on a sunny Friday, he continued his roll in his first game at Harris Field. Johnson, playing third base, belted a pair of two-out home runs, driving in five to stake the 19th-ranked Warriors to a 9-6 win against pesky British Columbia.

“Jack did his thing, gave us some breathing room,” said second-year L-C coach Jake Taylor, whose group improved to 6-3 overall and 1-0 in Cascade Conference play. “He’s having a really good start to it. I’m looking forward to seeing him progressing and keep doing the same thing.”

In the third, Johnson took an 0-2 pitch from standout UBC starter Garrett Hawkins deep over the center-field wall to score Aidan Nagle for a 3-1 LCSC lead.

“He hung one, I got behind it,” Johnson said.

Two innings later, With Nagle and AJ Davis on base after consecutive singles — and the score the same — Johnson took advantage of some shaky relief pitching and sent an off-target slider high and out to left-center.

“I kinda figured they were gonna pitch around me,” Johnson said. “Then he hung one. I put a good swing on it. I knew it was gonna go somewhere.”

His two bombs proved crucial, as the Thunderbirds (4-5, 0-1) wouldn’t go away, even after taking an 8-2 deficit in the sixth, when LCSC produced two more runs with small-ball strategy.

“We showed signs of being pretty offensive at times, and stubborn, but lacking focus at times too,” Taylor said. “(The T-birds) are always gonna compete, they’re a really good club. We left a few balls over the plate and they were aggressive.”

UBC’s Austen Butler answered with his own three-run homer against L-C reliever Luke Tedrick in the seventh. Tedrick, in his first appearance since Jan. 31 at Westmont, allowed four runs and was pulled after an inning.

GT Blackman then came on and threw two clean innings, fanning three, to earn his second save and maintain a 0.00 ERA through 13 total innings.

Riley Way tacked on an insurance run on a wild pitch in the eighth, and Blackman escaped a dicey, two-on situation in the ninth.

L-C’s offense, which totaled 11 hits, was too consistent for UBC to fully retaliate, despite its 12 hits. The Thunderbirds left eight runners on.

“We have a really good lineup, and we’re not even playing close to our potential right now.” Johnson said. “We didn’t play our best, but still had a good game against a great pitcher and one of the best teams in the league.”

Taylor lamented a few baserunning errors and defensive mishaps, but was otherwise pleased with his team’s scoring capacity. Defensive highlights included a lay-out catch in center field from Dalton Harum to close the first, and a 5-3 double play in the second. Harum also added a double and walked twice.

Seven Warriors registered hits, and three had multiple. Nagle, a Cuesta College (Calif.) transfer, reached safely four times, and tallied three singles and an RBI.

“That kid can really hit,” Taylor said of Nagle. “He’s settled in and gotten back to his approach.”

Catcher Zach Needham went 2-for-4, and Way added a double.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Hawkins, an MLB draft prospect, took his first loss after allowing eight hits and five runs in five innings, striking out nine.

L-C starter Eric Chavarria improved to 2-0 after going six innings, during which he struck out five, permitted two runs on eight hits, but didn’t walk anybody. Chavarria bounced back after a misplayed pop fly in the third cost him a run.

Of note was his fifth inning — he escaped a two-on, one-out situation with a strikeout on an off-speed pitch, and got some help with a 2-4-2 play that cut down a runner diving for the plate.

UBC’s Ty Penner notched an RBI double off the center-field wall to make it 6-2 in the sixth, and after a groundout, Chavarria’s day was done.

“He gave us a chance, threw three pitches for strikes, and was interchangeable with them,” Taylor said of Chavarria. “He competes, and he’s relatively new to pitching. I think he’s gonna be a real good player.”

The teams continue their four-game series with a doubleheader at noon today.

BRITISH COLUMBIA LEWIS-CLARK ST.

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Lanferman cf 5 0 1 1 Way 2b 3 1 1 1

Or c 3 0 0 0 Davis ss 4 1 1 0

Vulcano pr 0 1 0 0 Nagle rf 4 2 3 1

Valcke lf 3 0 1 0 Ephan 1b 3 0 0 0

Butler rf 2 1 1 3 Johnson 3b 4 2 2 5

Maier rf 5 0 2 0 White dh 4 1 1 0

Corbeth dh 5 2 2 0 Harum cf 2 1 1 0

Penner 1b 3 0 2 1 Needham c 4 1 2 0

Weger 3b 4 1 1 0 Stout pr 0 0 0 0

F’simmons 2b 4 1 2 1 Goldby lf 2 0 0 0

Sanderson ss 3 0 0 0 Sheward c 1 0 0 0

Shute ph 1 0 0 0

Totals 38 6 12 6 Totals 31 9 11 7

British Columbia 000 010 000—6 12 2

Lewis-Clark State 012 032 01x—9 11 1

British Columbia ip h r er bb so

Hawkins (L, 2-1) 5.0 8 6 5 2 9

Bradwell 0.2 2 2 2 2 0

Laforest 1.1 1 0 0 0 2

Caswell 1.0 0 1 0 1 1

Lewis-Clark State ip h r er bb so

Chavarria (W, 2-0) 6.0 8 2 2 0 5

Tedrick 1.0 3 4 4 2 1

Blackman (S, 2) 2.0 1 0 0 1 3

Attendance — 225.

Clark may be reached at cclark@lmtribune.com, on Twitter @ClarkTrib or by phone at (208) 848-2260.

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