Luck is the residue of design it's been said and the Western Nevada Community College baseball team was a little lucky in pulling off a sweep on Saturday.
A botched squeeze play attempt that ended up in a double play helped the Wildcats finish off the sweep of a doubleheader against Colorado Northwestern Community College at John L. Harvey Field. WNCC won the opener 5-0 behind a brilliant effort from Cole Rohrbough and won the nightcap 4-2.
WNCC (27-20-2) improved to 21-13 in the Scenic West Athletic Conference and kept its slim hopes of finishing in the top two in the conference alive. In the conference postseason format, the top two teams will be a host site and receive a first round bye.
Community College of Southern Nevada was in first at 24-8 and College of Southern Idaho was second at 23-9 heading into Friday.
Justin Garcia carried a one-hit shutout into the sixth inning of the nightcap when he ran into trouble. The Spartans scored two runs on four hits with the big hit coming on Tucket Slade's two-run double.
Colorado Northwestern then tried a suicide sqeeze play with runners at first and third with one. But Garcia caught the bunt attempt just in time and threw a pitch low and away.
After the botched bunt attempt, the batter interfered with catcher Chuck Howard. The batter was called out for interference and Howard was allowed to finish the play, throwing out the runner at third for an inning-ending double play.
"I would have been upset if I was in their dugout," WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore said. "I don't understand the interpretation of the call. I'm sure they got the call right."
"I kind of saw it coming a little bit out of the corner of my eye so I tried to put it in the dirt," Garcia said. "That worked out great in a tight spot to get two outs like that."
Garcia cruised through the first five innings with an outstanding breaking pitch before being touched in the sixth. Garcia ended up striking out five and walking one.
"They were hitting good pitches," Garcia said. "They made an adjustment on me. They started to hit the other way a little bit more."
Jeremy Joustra continued to be outstanding as he threw a scoreless seventh for the save. Whittemore was understandably pleased with all three of his pitchers.
"We're very fortunate to have a couple of guys like that," said Whittemore about Garcia and Rohrbough.
"Joustra's really come on strong. He's got a really good sinking fastball and he throws a lot of strikes. That's the key in this league to be able to command your fastabll and have some movement."
WNCC took a 2-0 lead in the first on Brad Carlsen's RBI single. Carlsen eventually scored on Cliff Shepard's squeeze bunt.
In the fifth, Howard and Kyel Bondurant singled and after Andrew Reid walked, Shepard followed with a two-run single to make it 4-0. Howard and Carlsen each had two hits and Reid added a hit to run his hitting streak to nine games.
In the opener, Rohrbough pitched a three-hit shutout, striking out 11 and walking one. "I felt good," Rohbough said. "I tried to make good pitches and keep the ball down."
WNCC struggled somewhat against Zeb Besant, who came in with a 3-8 record and a 6.59 earned run average. The Wildcats made it easy on Besant at times by swinging at the first pitch, allowing him to record his share of outs on just one pitch.
"Offensive I thought we had some good at-bats," Whittemore said. "We got a little bit impatient at times."
WNCC took a 1-0 lead in the first on Reid's RBI single. The Wildcats made it 2-0 in the third after Taylor Mieras doubled and Thomas Miller followed with an RBI double.
The Wildcats finally got to Besant in the sixth when Logan Parsley singled and scored on Carlsen's triple. After Pat Grennan was hit by a pitch, Mieras followed with a two-run double to make it 5-0.
Parsley and Mieras each had two hits for WNCC. Slade had two of Colorado Northwestern's three hits.
The two teams will play again today in a doubleheader, beginning at noon. Despite the Spartans falling to 4-30 in the SWAC, Whittemore expects two more hard fought games. "They've got a good club," Whittemore said. "They're not scared of anybody."
But Whittemore also said his team is improving. "I feel like we're moving in the right direction," he said.