SALT LAKE CITY — Getting the best of College of Southern Nevada has become the norm for the Western Nevada College baseball team in 2014.
That trend continued at the Region 18 baseball tournament on Thursday as the Wildcats withstood a late rally by the Coyotes for a 10-6 victory in Salt Lake City.
As a result, the defending region champion Wildcats (37-16) will meet Salt Lake in a winners’ bracket matchup at 11 a.m. today. The Bruins outlasted College of Southern Idaho, 2-1, in the other first-round matchup.
To beat the Coyotes (31-21) for the eighth time in 10 meetings this season, the Wildcats stranded the potential tying run on base in the seventh inning. Reliever Jeremy Alderman recorded a strikeout to end that threat, then threw a scoreless eighth inning to preserve a 5-4 lead.
The Wildcats then scored five runs in the bottom of the eight, two coming on a double by Brandon Lapointe.
WNC sophomore pitcher Conor Harber (8-0) earned the victory, working 6 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits and four earned runs and struck out seven.
The Wildcats scored twice in the first inning and added two more in the third go ahead, 4-0.
WNC banged out 13 hits against Blair Goldsack and Brett Bovee. Harber, Jake Bennett, Connor Klein and Joey Crunkilton each delivered two hits. Bennett scored three runs and Fife touched home plate twice.
The Wildcats have never been ousted from the regional in two straight games. The Wildcats lost two of three games in the program’s first season in 2006.
SOFTBALL: WILDCATS STAY ALIVE
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — For the first time in program history, the Western Nevada College softball team is going to third day of the Region 18 Tournament. Fortunately, the Wildcats didn’t pack for a short stay in Twin Falls, Idaho.
The sixth-seeded Wildcats stunned Snow College 11-9 in an elimination game on Thursday afternoon after ousting Colorado Northwestern earlier in the day, 7-5. Snow (25-29) had beaten WNC (14-45) n seven of eight meetings this season.
WNC will be among four teams left in the tournament when it plays either North Idaho or College of Southern Nevada today at 1:30 p.m.
Like they did against North Idaho, the Wildcats got an early jump on the Badgers, scoring four times in the first inning. This time, the Wildcats didn’t let the lead slip away.
Katelyn Bomar and Heather Septon each collected three hits for the winners. For the third straight postseason game, Kaitlyn Covione homered. She had two hits and drove in three runs.
Makenzie Hospodka won the opener against Colorado with a two-run homer in the seventh.
Septon put pressure on the Spartans by reaching base to lead off the bottom of the seventh, took second base on a botched pickoff attempt. Cara McCarthy’s sacrifice bunt sent Septon to third base. Hospodka took the first offering from Vreni Lewis over the right-center-field fence with her game-ending blast. It was her fifth HR of the season.
Wentworth said she didn’t consider having Hospodka bunt in that situation.
“We talked about looking for something that she could drive into the outfield that would be deep enough to get Heather home,” Wentworth said. “They pulled their outfield in, and Makenzie made a nice, relaxed swing and made solid contact to put it out.”