STERLING, Colo. — D.J. Whittemore said it wouldn’t be easy for Cochise College to apply the knockout punch to his club in the Western District baseball championship.
The eighth-year Western Nevada College baseball coach proved to be prophetic as the Wildcats rallied from a two-run deficit to win 5-4 and force a deciding game on Saturday in Sterling, Colo.
That game, however, was suspended because of lightning. The teams will try to play at noon today with the winner advancing to the NCJA World Series in Grand Junction. WNC led 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth, but Cochise had runners at first and second.
Whittemore said there is a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms in the area today, and he said it’s a rule that you can’t play if thunderstorms are within six miles.
“It could be an advantage, but I’m not sure how,” said Whittemore when asked if there was an advantage or disadvantage for either team. “Obviously I felt lke we had some momentum. Ths delay could bring their No. 1 back into the picture, but our Nos. 2 and 3 just pitched yesterday and they can’t come back.”
Tyler Bennett started the second game, and Whittemore was unsure if he would bring him back when play resumed. If Bennett doesn’t go, it could be Conor Harber, Brandon Show, Brock Pellow, Evan Parker and possibly Spencer Greer.
In the opener, Conor Harber knocked in three runs, including two with a home run, and right-handed pitcher Cody Hamlin threw six scoreless innings of relief after checking into a local emergency room with flu-like symptoms on Friday night.
“Cody dominated the game, but he was a weaker version of what he normally is,” Whittemore said.
Trailing 4-2 in the fifth inning, Joseph Crunkilton socked a one-out double to right-center field. Harber followed with a double to left to score Crunkilton. After a Connor Klein groundout moved Harber to third base, Mike Umscheid provided a game-tying RBI base hit up the middle.
The score remained tied until the seventh, when the Wildcats put together a game-deciding two-out rally.
Harber started the rally with his third hit of the game. With Harber running with a pitch, he was able to advance to third base on Klein’s single. Umscheid came through again with an RBI single to score Harber for a 5-4 WNC lead, the Wildcats’ first lead since Harber’s two-run blast in the first inning.
Hamlin (10-2) took it from there, keeping the Apaches off the scoreboard after they touched up Austin Richmond for five runs in the first three innings.
Harber and Umscheid each collected three hits and combined to knock in all five Wildcat runs, while Klein and Crunkilton knocked out two hits.