The Western Nevada Community College baseball team kept pace in the Scenic West Conference race by sweeping a doublheader at Colorado Northwestern on Friday.
WNCC scored a season-high 16 runs in a 16-1 rout in the opener and held on for a 5-4 win in the nightcap. The Wildcats (27-15, 21-9) moved to within 1 1/2 games of first place Dixie State, which is 23-8 in the Scenic West. Southern Idaho came into its weekend series with Salt Lake at 19-7 in conference play.
The race for second and third in the Scenic West has become more magnified with the emergence of Community College of Southern Nevada. CCSN had been leading the Scenic West, but had to forfeit 24 conference games because it used ineligible players.
CCSN is fighting Colorado Northwestern, which fell to 6-22 in conference, for the sixth and final spot into the conference tournament. A second place finish in conference would mean a tournament first round bye while a third place finish could mean having to face CCSN, which was 5-27 in conference heading into this weekend, in the tournament's first round.
"There's a lot of difference between playing CCSN in the first round and getting a bye," WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore said.
WNCC is also holding out hope it can win the regular season title, which would mean it would host the conference tournament. "We're trying to make a push," Whittemore said.
But Whittemore noted that Colorado Northwestern is in a dog fight for a tournament berth and should save its No. 1 pitcher for the final game of the series in the second game of today's doubleheader.
"They've got something to play for," Whittemore said. "They're playing for a playoff spot. We're trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves."
Justin Garcia was perfect through four innings for WNCC in the opener, allowing no hits, walking none and striking out seven. The Wildcats jumped out to a 13-0 lead after three innings.
Jerahmie Libke, who had four hits in the doubleheader, was 3-for-4 with three RBI, and Carson's Aaron Henry hit his first home run of the year, a two-run shot in the second, in going 2-for-3. Tyson Jaquez was 2-for-2 with two RBI and Thomas Miller had two hits and three RBI.
Aaron Greer also showed signs of breaking out as he had hit and two RBI in the opener and a hit in the nightcap. Brett Mosher and Taylor Meiras each added a hit and pitcher Josh Brink even got into the act, going 1-for-1 as a pinch hitter.
"He showed us why he is our No. 1 guy," said Whittemore about Garcia. "He was just real dominant. He was keeping the ball down as we as he has all year."
T.J. Wohlever allowed one unearned run in the fifth in the game that was called after five innings.
Cole Rohrbough picked up the win in the nightcap, allowing one run over 4.2 innings while striking out seven.
Rohrbough was pulled after throwing 90 pitches. "We felt like it was the right move," Whittemore said. "He was real solid."
Dan Grubbs pitched 1.1 scoreless innings before giving way to Ryan Iodence in the seventh when WNCC almost let the game slip away. The Wildcats took a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh when two errors, two walks and a hit batsman led to three unearned runs.
With runners at first and second, Stephen Sauer got a lineout to Henry in center field to end the game and pick up the save. "It was definitely scary," Whittemore said.
Kyle Bondurant had two hits, two runs and two RBI, Brad Carlsen and Jaquez each added two hits and Pat Grennan added a hit.