Moral victories don’t mean much to Western Nevada College baseball coach D.J. Whittemore this deep into the 2013 season.
On Saturday, for the third time in four meetings with Scenic West Athletic Conference-leading College of Southern Nevada, the Wildcats lost a one-run game.
“The name of the game is to win,” said Whittemore, whose club lost 4-3 in the opener at John L. Harvey Field before bouncing back for a 3-2 victory in game two. “When you lose, it hurts. That’s not what we’re out here to do.”
The Wildcats didn’t let the gut-wrenching defeat impact their focus for the final game of the series. Spencer Greer threw four scoreless innings and Jack Hall scored the deciding run as WNC edged its rivals.
“We’re starting to play better as a team,” Greer said. “We were up real high at the beginning of the season, then went down for a little bit and now we’re going back up, so it will be a good finish.”
WNC remained at .500 in the SWAC with an 8-8 record, while CSN is 13-3.
The Wildcats took a 3-2 lead into the seventh inning in the opening game, but CSN rallied for two runs in its last at-bat for one-run victory, disappointing the Wildcats and their followers.
“Honestly, playing our rivals like that, that’s really tough just because they have been back and forth with us the last seven years,” outfielder Matt Becker said. “It’s just a great competition, great competitors and great games all round. It’s always going to be a close game anytime we play these guys because they are our rivals and they are a good team.”
Becker’s one-out double in the fifth put the Wildcats in position to take their first lead. After Coyote starting pitcher John Conquy intentionally walked Conor Harber, Coyote skipper Nick Garritino went to his bullpen, bringing in Nate Potterf.
Potterf quickly got ahead of Mike Umscheid in the count, but the Wildcats’ sophomore didn’t give in, depositing a two-strike pitch into left. And, with Becker not slowing coming around third, he was able beat the throw from the outfield and dive across the plate for the go-ahead run.
The lead was short-lived.
A one-out single to left by Cory Welch, just in front of Becker, put the tying run on base in the seventh. Chad Whiteaker’s ensuing double barely avoided the glove of Becker, sending Welch to third. WNC elected to walk Morgan Stotts to load the bases. Bobby Shiroky kept the Coyotes alive with a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Welch with the tying run. Thomas Pannone, who entered the game an inning earlier as a pinch-runner, delivered the go-ahead hit, a shot to center, scoring Whiteaker for a 4-3 lead.
Despite working two full counts in the bottom of the seventh, the Wildcats were retired 1-2-3 to end the game.
In the sixth, with Pannone on second base with one out, Whittemore decided to pull starting pitcher Christian Stolo. The move paid off as reliever Evan Parker preserved the 3-2 lead with consecutive groundouts to third baseman Umscheid.
Parker took the loss to drop to 0-2. Stolo worked 5.1 innings, surrendering six hits and two earned runs. Umscheid collected two of the Wildcats’ five hits.
In the second game, WNC broke on top 2-1 in the first inning. Harber and Ferguson delivered RBI singles to right field against CSN starter Pannone.
A wild pitch and infield error in the third inning helped Evan Van Hoosier score to tie the score at 2.
But the Wildcats responded by scoring the go-ahead run in the fifth. Hall opened the rally with a double to left field and advanced to third on Tony Roque’s deep drive to right. A Pannone pitch got past catcher Isaac Shim, allowing Rice to score for a 3-2 lead.
Greer (4-1) relieved Tyler Bennett in the fourth inning and was able to shut down the Coyote attack, allowing just one hit. After solving Pannone early, the left-hander limited the Wildcats to two hits after the first inning. He finished with nine strikeouts, including the side in the sixth.
The Wildcats, 23-13 overall, will travel to College of Southern Idaho for a four-game series March 29-30.
CSI SWEEPS WNC AGAIN
For four innings on Saturday, the Western Nevada College softball team had all of the makings to upset eighth-ranked College of Southern Idaho: home runs, quality pitching and solid defense.
Alisha Nielsen homered twice to put WNC ahead 4-0, but the Golden Eagles used an eight-run rally in the fifth inning to pull out a 13-5 victory to start a doubleheader sweep at Edmonds Sports Complex in Carson City. The Golden Eagles followed up their comeback victory with a 11-1 five-inning win in the second game.
Nielsen put the Wildcats on top 3-0 with a three-run homer in the second inning.
The Wildcats also had three additional extra-base hits in the first three innings. Sydney Darby, Madison Gonzalez and Caroline McCarthy delivered doubles.
But CSI kept the score close and pulled to within 3-1 with a run in the fourth.
Nielsen, however, quickly got the run back in the bottom of the frame, homering for the second time.
The Golden Eagles didn’t rattle, though. The SWAC leaders scored eight times in the fifth inning to move in front 9-4.
Sophomore pitcher Alexia Alley, who befuddled the Golden Eagles through four innings, couldn’t make it out of the fifth. Carlee Beck, who blanked CSI for seven innings on Friday, got the final out of the inning.
WNC missed an opportunity to tack on more runs, leaving two runners on base in the fourth and the bases loaded in the fifth.
The Golden Eagles padded their lead by scoring four runs off Beck in the seventh.