Thursday, April 24, 2014
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Former WOU coach and current L-C State coach Jeremiah Robbins, left, shakes Western head coach Kellen Walker’s hand after Friday’s game.
April 24, 2013
MONMOUTH -- For seven seasons, Jeremiah Robbins made the Western Oregon University baseball program into a tradition synonymous with conference championships.
Last weekend, Robbins returned to what he had helped build -- only this time, he coached from the opposite dugout.
"You know, I definitely have a lot of pride in what we were able to do here in my brief time," Robbins said shortly after his new team -- the NAIA No. 5 Lewis-Clark State Warriors -- took Game 1 from Western Oregon Friday, winning 9-6.
"But for me, I've got this (team) to worry about now."
For the second time this season, the two teams split a four-game series, as the Warriors (36-11) also won Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader, 13-12.
WOU (25-17) would respond with a 4-2 victory in the second game, followed by a 2-1 win in Sunday's finale.
WOU split the series with L-C State on the road back in February.
For Robbins, who left WOU in June for the baseball-hungry community of Lewiston, Idaho, returning to Monmouth -- where he also spent one year as a player -- was definitely a trip down memory lane.
WOU’s Blake Miller had a monster weekend in the Wolves’ split with Lewis-Clark State, as the senior went 11 for 15 at the plate.
"I am proud of this facility here. I think (interim athletic director) Jon Carey and myself had a lot to do with the turf and some of the upgrades with the dugouts," Robbins said of WOU's field, which was installed in June of 2010.
"I did reminisce a little bit, rolling back through. It's a good program here at Western Oregon -- it's in good hands and it's going to continue to grow."
While Robbins' return might have served as some motivation for his former players, Wolves' senior Blake Miller said his squad was just focused on beating a solid team with two Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season series' remaining.
Miller's bat proved to be a big reason why WOU came away with two victories.
The All-American shortstop went on an absolute tear during the weekend, finishing the four-game series 11 for 15 (.733) at the plate with nine RBI, two doubles, a triple and a home run.
His two-RBI single in Sunday's victory proved to be the game-winner, as starter A.J. Burke (5-3) kept the Warriors in check with six innings of one-run baseball to go along with six strikeouts.
"I've just been working on my timing, getting that down better," Miller said after Friday's loss, when he went 3 for 3 with three RBI and a home run. "That's allowing me to see the pitches so I can pick them up earlier."
While Robbins remains a big part of WOU's baseball history, WOU head coach Kellen Walker admitted that coaching against his former mentor is obviously a step away from normalcy.
"It's a bit different coaching against Jeremiah -- I learned everything I know from him and I'm going to try to apply as much of it as I can to what I do with our guys," Walker said.
Saint Martin's at Western Oregon (24-15, 18-6)
When: Saturday-Sunday. Doubleheaders are set to start at 1 p.m. each day.