Through 13 innings of a Scenic West Athletic Conference baseball doubleheader on Friday, College of Southern Idaho denied Western Nevada College from putting a crooked number on the scoreboard. But with one swing by Alex Fife that changed as his homer brought in three runs, helping the Wildcats to a doubleheader split.
Fife’s homer was part of a four-run seventh inning that snapped a 1-1 tie and propelled the Wildcats to a 5-1 victory at John L. Harvey Field. The Golden Eagles won the opener 6-2 behind the pitching of southpaw Kolton Brost.
The split kept the Wildcats (8-6) in second place in the SWAC, in front of third-place CSI (7-7).
Conor Harber (4-0) picked up the victory with 2.2 innings of overpowering relief of starter Max Karnos. Harber fanned six Golden Eagles and allowed just one hit.
Karnos gave up five hits and one earned run in 6.1 innings.
CSI starting pitcher Grant Kukuk (1-2), a Reno High graduate, permitted just one Wildcat baserunner in the first two innings.
But sophomore Tony Roque jump-started the Wildcat offense in the third with a double to left-center. Connor Klein’s groundout to the right side moved Roque to third base. Roque came home on Christian Stolo’s sacrifice fly, giving WNC a 1-0 lead.
Roque finished with two doubles, a run scored and a RBI. Joey Crunkilton had two hits for WNC.
In his first start, Brost limited WNC to four hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings as CSI recorded the road win.
After surrendering two hits and a run in the first inning, Brost didn’t give up another Wildcat hit until the sixth.
“We had a bunch of strikeouts and didn’t have good at-bats,” said WNC coach D.J. Whittemore. “CSI is a good team, and we’re going to have a good battle the rest of the series.”
Rayne Raven’s sacrifice fly plated Harber with the game’s first run in the opening frame. Harber hit a one-out single to right and made it to third base on Crunkilton’s double to left.
But Brost (6-1), whose 13 previous appearances this season came in relief, frustrated the Wildcats until the sixth inning.
“That guy is their best pitcher and we had a lot of lefties in our lineup,” Crunkilton said. “If you missed that first pitch, it was kind of hard because he has good secondary stuff.”
Sophomore left-hander Stolo (3-3) started well for the Wildcats, blanking the Golden Eagles through the first three innings.
Stolo, however, didn’t get away with issuing a leadoff walk for the second successive inning in the fourth. After walking Skyler Souza to open the inning, Nathan Ackerman doubled down the left-field line, advancing Souza to third base. Lincoln Rivera plated Souza on a groundout. Brodie Cooper followed with a double pushing the Golden Eagles in front to stay, 2-1.
CSI ended Stolo’s afternoon in the fifth with four straight hits. After Stolo fanned leadoff man Preston Young, Isaac Anderson doubled to left and moved to third on pinch-hitter R.J. Bush’s base hit to left field. Souza beat out a bunt to the right side, scoring Anderson to up CSI’s lead to 3-1. Ackerman followed with a single to left field that got past Crunkilton, allowing Bush and Souza to cross the plate for a 5-1 CSI advantage.
Stolo’s pitching line for 4 2/3 innings work included seven strikeouts and four walks. He gave up four earned runs on six hits.
The Golden Eagles (18-18) added a run in the sixth, increasing their lead to 6-1.
Weather allowing, the teams will play a doubleheader starting at noon today. The contingency plan is to play a twin bill on Sunday.