WNCC splits with Dixie State

The Western Nevada Community College baseball team went from the ultimate low to the ultimate high.

After a devastating 2-1 loss in 10 innings - in which the Wildcats had the bases loaded with no outs and failed to score in the top of the 10th innings - WNCC came back to beat Dixie State 3-2 on Monday in St. George, Utah.

WNCC split its four-game series with Dixie State, ranked No. 13 in the country. Dixie State was also the third past national champion that the Wildcats have beaten this year. Dixie State won the title in 2004 and WNCC has also beaten 2003 national champ Community College of Southern Nevada and 2002 national champ Central Arizona.

The Wildcats (13-11) also stayed in the thick of the Scenic West Conference race with the split. WNCC came into the series third in the Scenic West and stayed ahead of Dixie State in the standings. WNCC is 7-5 and Dixie State is 9-7.

Southern Idaho was in first coming into this past weekend's games at 8-2 and CCSN was second at 8-4.

"Probably the most devastating, heart wrenching loss I've ever been associated with," said WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore about the opener.

But about the nightcap, Whittemore said, "One of the best team wins I've every been a part of if not the best."

Whittemore also said he's not thinking about the opener that got away. "I don't even want to think about what could have been," he said. "I'm just really happy that we won two at their park. We're real happy with a split on the road."

His team also showed tremendous character, Whittemore said. "That's the word that's probably overused in sports but it's dead on the spot for what we did in the second game," Whittemore said. "To come back from the 10 inning loss is pretty special."

WNCC is also over .500 despite playing 20 of its 24 games on the road. "To be a couple of games over .500 this deep in the season speaks volumes about what kind of players we have," Whittemore said.

The Wildcats will return home this weekend for another key conference series against Salt Lake, which was 5-5 in league going into this past weekend.

The Wildcat pitching staff held the conference's leading hitting team to nine runs in four games and that's counting the extra inning affair. Chad Riddle was able to come back from losing the opener to pick up the win in the nightcap.

WNCC outhit Dixie State 12-3 in the nightcap. To show what kind of a team effort it was, ace pitcher Justin Garcia pinch hit and picked up a hit in his first at bat of the year.

T.J. Wohlever also came on to make his first start of the year, allowing one run in 1.1 innings. Winning pitcher Josh Bottari allowed one run in 3.2 innings. Riddle pitched two scoreless innings for the save.

WNCC took a 1-0 lead in the first when Carson City's Aaron Henry reached on a hit with two outs and eventually scored on Jerahmie Libke's hit.

Down 2-1 in the fifth, Pat Grennan was robbed of a two-run hit when the second baseman made a diving stop with the bases loaded and one out. Grennan was thrown out but a run scored on the play. Humberto Rodarte also had a hit in the inning and Tyson Jaquez scored the go-ahead run with a hit to make it 3-2.

Henry, Jaquez and Libke all had two hits and Grennan, Chad Dudley, Brad Carlsen and Kyle Bondurant all added a hit.

In the opener, starter Josh Brink pitched 4.2 scoreless innings, Dan Grubbs pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, Ryan Iodence picked 1.1 scoreless innings and Stephen Sauer pitched two scoreless innings. "Our bullpen was nails," Whittemore said. "Our bullpen was shot."

WNCC took a 1-0 lead in the fifth when Henry was hit by a pitch, stole second. Henry eventually scored on Libke's squeeze bunt. Dixie State tied it in the seventh on a two-out, two-strike single.

In the 10th, WNCC loaded the bases with no outs on the strength of Grennan's single and Thomas Miller's walk, but failed to score.

Bondurant had two hits and Jaquez, Dudley, Henry and Taylor Meiras all added a hit. For the series, Henry, Bondurant, Jaquez and Grennan all had five hits.

WNCC also continued to play solid defense and among the standouts were Henry in center field and Miller at first.

Note: WNCC is scheduled to play Salt Lake in a doubleheader, beginning at noon Friday at Ron McNutt Field, with the second game to follow 30 minutes later. On Saturday, the Wildcats are scheduled to play a doubleheader against Salt Lake, beginning at 11 a.m. at Manogue, with the nightcap to follow 30 minutes later.

If the weather doesn't cooperate the series could be held on Saturday and Sunday, with Sunday's games possibly being moved back to McNutt Field and the game times could change.

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