HENDERSON — Western Nevada College’s Cody Hamlin celebrated being named the Scenic West Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year by throwing his best game of the season.
Hamlin threw a complete-game 7-hitter and Joey Crunkilton hit a two-run homer to lead the Wildcats to a 3-1 win over Salt Lake in a first-round SWAC tournament game at Morse Field Thursday afternoon.
The win earned WNC the right to face regular-season champ College of Southern Nevada at noon today. The winner advances to Saturday’s final, and the loser will have to come back and play at 7 p.m. Phil Belding or Christian Stolo will start on the hill for WNC.
“It was a gutsy effort,” WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said. “He hadn’t thrown more than 92 pitches this year, and he threw about 120 today. Considering the stage, this was his best game of the season. Salt Lake has a great team; a tremendous lineup. Salt Lake will be back. They have a lot of good pitching.”
Zach Watts tripled in SLCC’s only run in the fifth, but WNC scored three in the sixth to go ahead for good.
Tony Roque walked and scored on a double by Stolo. Crunkilton hit a change-up out of the yard for the game’s final runs.
“That was a great piece of hitting by Joey,” Whittemore said.
WNC has now won 15 of its last 17 games, and has beaten the Bruins five straight times.
WNC STAYS ALIVE
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — They did it.
Western Nevada College’s softball team earned the program’s first postseason victory with a 2-0 win against Colorado Northwestern in the Region 18 tournament on Thursday morning.
Sophomore pitcher Ali Lostra blanked the Spartans on five hits and struck out the final two hitters with the potential tying runs on base to secure the history-making victory.
“It was really exciting,” said WNC coach Leah Wentworth. “Along with the first postseason win, another first was that I don’t think we shut out anybody this year.”
Jennifer Quam and Madison Gonzalez collectively provided four hits to ignite the offense.
WNC (19-41) moves on to play tournament host College of Southern Idaho, which was upset by North Idaho 4-1, at 8:30 a.m. today in the double-elimination tournament.
WNC didn’t waste any time marking the scoreboard against the Spartans. Quam led off the first with a triple and scored on a Gonzalez base hit.
The Wildcats made it 2-0 in the second inning when Lostra’s two-out base hit scored Heather Septon. Septon was on third base after singling, taking second on a passed ball and going to third on Carlee Beck’s groundout to the pitcher.
WNC, however, could have widened the margin during the rally as Quam and Gonzalez followed with base hits. On the latter hit by Gonzalez, Lostra was thrown out trying to score. Left fielder Chanel Pace gunned the ball home to catcher Daniel Brooks, who fired to third baseman Brandi Percival, who tagged out Lostra for the final out of the inning.
The Wildcats also stranded Gonzalez on second base in the first inning, Sydney Darby on third base in the third and Lostra on second in the fourth.
The Wildcats overcame leaving seven runners in scoring position through the first five innings.
“We did a good job of putting the ball in play and left a lot of runners on base. Fortunately, the two runs that we got were all that we needed,” Wentworth said.
Lostra wound up walking five and striking out three.
Quam and Gonzalez each had two hits.
DOUGLAS UPSETS DAMONTE
RENO — Douglas senior infielder Katie Kluever has been a sparkplug atop the Tiger softball team’s lineup all season. Matter of fact, base hits and wreaking havoc on the base paths have pretty much defined her varsity career at Douglas.
So when she stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded and the Tigers trailing 4-3, a nice line drive base hit was all she was looking for.
She got so much more.
Kluever smacked a grand slam home run — the first of her varsity career — against Damonte standout Kalynn Paque. The slam would stand as the game-winning hit for Douglas as the Tigers upended the defending regional champions 7-5 Thursday at Bishop Manogue High School.
“I was just telling myself to stay calm, that I could do this,” Kluever said. “All I wanted was a base hit. When I saw the ball headed out, I was like, ‘Yes, keep going.’”
After the Tigers sealed up the upset win, the players gathered around a cell phone and called head coach Andy Mitchell, who is on the East Coast for his daughter’s college graduation this weekend. They delivered the news en masse with a loud cheer.
The win moved Douglas into Saturday’s regional championship round, which begins at noon Saturday at Manogue. Douglas will face the winner of Damonte against either Reed or Manogue in Friday’s play-in round.
Douglas needs just one win to clinch its first regional title since 2004.
The Tigers were particularly strong against Damonte’s Paque, who has been without question the area’s top pitcher this season. Douglas belted three home runs and worked deep into the count during a number of key at-bats.
“Our approach coming in was just to relax and look for those base hits,” DHS assistant Christina Harper said. “We weren’t looking for the home runs. We just wanted to get on base and we kept emphasizing that if they got out, or struck out, someone behind you would step up.
“These girls just represent that team aspect. They pick each other up and believe in each other.”
Not to be lost in the effort was yet another exceptional outing in the circle from sophomore ace pitcher Kali Sargent, who struck out four, walked two and allowed just two earned runs.
So far in this tournament, she has 21 strikeouts in three complete games, and has pitched Douglas back from early deficits on each occasion.
“I just play my own game and know that I have a good defense behind me,” she said.
The teams went scoreless through the first two innings on Thursday before freshman Makayla Shaver belted a line-drive over the fence in right field to give Douglas a 1-0 lead.
Kluever singled with one out in the inning and later stole second. With two outs, Illiana Brown blasted a two-run home run to make it 3-0.
Damonte came right back in the bottom of the third, leading the inning off with a single from Morgan Greene. Adelle Oaks reached on an error that allowed Greene to score.
Oaks later stole third and scored on a ground out to second and Paque tied the game up with a home run to left with two outs.
Still with two outs, Briley Brewer reached on an error, moving to second on the play and Kerrigan Travens singled Brewer home for the 4-3 lead.