The Western Nevada Community College baseball team is looking higher up the Scenic West Athletic Conference Standings than it ever could have expected at this time of year.
WNCC was swept in a doubleheader on Saturday at College of Southern Idaho, losing the opener 9-8 and the nightcap 5-2. The Wildcats made a valiant rally in the opener. WNCC almost overcame a 9-1 deficit in the seventh inning when it scored seven runs before falling short.
Southern Idaho, which entered the weekend in first in the SWAC, improved to 20-8 in conference. The Wildcats (22-19-1), which entered in third, fell to 16-12. Community College of Southern Nevada, which was second coming into the weekend, entered Saturday at 18-8.
The Wildcats are running out of time if they want to move up in the standings. In this year's conference playoffs, the six teams will be divided into two three-team double elimination tournaments, with the regular season's top two teams hosting each event and receiving a first round bye.
As it stands now, WNCC would have to travel to either Southern Idaho or CCSN and wouldn't receive a first round bye. The Wildcats will travel to Salt Lake Community College this weekend.
Salt Lake was right behind WNCC in the standings at 14-12 entering Saturday. "It's a tough day to be a Wildcat," WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore said.
A bright spot for WNCC came on Saturday when Andrew Reid went 6-for-7.
Down 9-1 in the seventh in the opener, Cliff Shepard, Kyle Bondurant and Thomas Miller all walked to begin the rally. Brad Carlsen walked to force in a run and Reid, Logan Parsley and Pat Grennan all had RBI singles. Another run scored on an error to make it 9-6.
Chuck Howard lined out to right field, settling for an RBI sacrifice fly that made it 9-7. Shepard hit an RBI single to make it 9-8, but a strikeout ended the game.
"The guys did a really good job of playing from the first pitch to the last pitch the same way," Whittemore said. "We did a good job of battling until the last pitch."
Reid was 4-for-4 with a double and Grennan had two RBI. Josh Brink started, but faced only three batters and received a quick hook after walking two and allowing a single.
WNCC's pitching, which led the conference in fewest walks, walked 14 over the weekend on the way to losing 3-of-4 in the series. WNCC's pitchers walked six in the opener.
"I think one thing that we pride ourselves on, we make the other team beat us swinging the bats," Whittemore said. "To walk 14 hitters is very disappointing."
Stephen Sauer started in the nightcap and allowed four runs, two earned, over five innings. Sauer walked three and hit a batter and all four came home to score.
Sauer was pitching with a sore knee and also after being hit in the ankle while in the dugout by a foul ball in the seventh inning of Friday's nightcap.
"His stuff was outstanding," Whittemore said. "It was really a valiant effort. I'm very happy with the effort he gave us."
Reid went 2-for-3 with a run, Parsley was 1-for-3 with an RBI, Grennan was 1-for-3 with a run and Howard and Shepard each added a hit.