If there was ever going to be a Northern Nevada day in Northern Nevada for the Western Nevada Community College baseball team to take advantage of Ernie Banks' mantra "let's play two today," Saturday was it.
On a gorgeous 70-degree afternoon, the Wildcats rode the complete-game gems of Josh Brink and Stephen Sauer to sweep a doubleheader against Salt Lake City Community College, winning both games 4-1.
It was the second straight week that WNCC (13-12, 7-5) was able to win three-out-four in a key Scenic West Athletic Conference series as the Wildcats also took three-of-four from College of Southern Idaho last weekend. The series wins were made especially important because Community College of Southern Nevada settled for a split in its first two games of its series against Eastern Utah on Friday heading into Saturday.
"The weather and everything and playing it here, it's all fun," said WNCC assistant coach Kevin Edwards, who helped fill in for head coach D.J. Whittemore, who was serving as one of the best men in his brother's wedding. "We knew it was going to be a good day."
Edwards said the Wildcats made it easy on the WNCC assistant coaches. "It's pretty just runs itself," Edwards said. "This is really just a matter of playing hard. The guys played hard and played good defense this weekend and had some timely hitting and that's the recipe."
In the opener, Brink allowed just four hits, with the Bruins' only run scoring on a balk.
WNCC took a 2-0 lead in the second when Brad Carlsen singled, stole second and scored on Pat Grennan's single. After Cliff Shepard singled, Taylor Mieras hit an RBI single to make it 2-0. Kevin Schlange went on to walk to load the bases with one out.
But Kyle Bondurant was robbed of a two-run hit when shortstop Kasey Carling made a spectacular leaping grab of his line drive and turned it into a double play to end the inning.
WNCC went up 4-1 in the third when Logan Parsley, who had two hits, and Thomas Miller singled. Parsley scored and Miller advanced to third on two wild pitches. After Carlsen walked, Grennan laid down a bunt.
Miller broke for the plate on the throw to first and even though the first baseman came off the bag early, his throw home wasn't in time to retire Miller, making the score 4-1.
In the nightcap, Sauer did nothing fancy, just relying on fastballs and sliders to pitch a two-hitter while striking out eight. One of the hits was Craig Lanzarotta's home run that gave Salt Lake a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
The Bruins' Chad Ellis had a shutout going with two outs and nobody on in the fifth when Miller walked and Shepard, who had two hits, doubled. Salt Lake went to the bullpen, which couldn't hold the lead.
On a 2-0 pitch, the left-handed Carlsen went with a fastball away, sending it to left centerfield for a two-run double. The ball was bobbled in the outfield, allowing Carlsen to make it to third and the throw to third went into the WNCC dugout, allowing Carlsen to score to make it 3-1.
"That's what I was looking for," said Carlsen about the fastball away. "I just wanted to get it on the barrel. I was looking for another fastball.
"We're getting some key hits. The pitching staff's done really well. One big inning can get us right back into the game."
Schlange, who had two hits, led off the sixth with a triple and he scored on Boundurant's single to make it 4-1.
Sauer retired the side in order in five of the seven innings and struck out the side in the third. He was able to retire the side in order in the seventh thanks to an outstanding play at short by Schlange, who made a diving stop of a ball hit by Leonard Zalopany and throwing him out, robbing Zalopany of a hit.
"Fastballs, sliders that was basically it," Sauer said. "It was really good to come out and take three games twice in a row."
"They pitched well," said Edwards about Brink and Sauer. "Pitching sets the tone in this conference. After that it's just a matter of having good at-bats."
Notes: Edwards said it was "killing" Whittemore to miss the games. "We've been on the phone with him every two innings, giving him updates," Edwards said.