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. Friday. 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.
“Alderman did a great job in relief with a runner in scoring position. That was a big strikeout,” said WNC coach D.J. Whittemore. “Then he threw a goose egg in the eighth, which allowed our offense to be relaxed and come to us and afforded us a chance to have a big inning.”
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.
“Harber and (catcher Sam) Hall did a great job for us throwing up zeros early and allowing us to get out to a lead,” Whittemore said.
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.