There's no denying it, a split is not what the Western Nevada Community College baseball team had in mind to end its series at Colorado Northwestern Community College, the Scenic West Athletic Conference's weakest team.
But that's what the Wildcats had to settle for after losing the opener of a doubleheader, 4-3, on Saturday. WNCC came back to win the nightcap 4-0 to take three of four games in the series.
But the loss dropped the Wildcats (16-13-1) to third in the SWAC at 10-6. College of Southern Idaho, which swept Eastern Utah Community College, moved into second at 11-5. Community College of Southern Nevada, which swept Salt Lake City Community College, is in first at 14-2.
Stephen Sauer allowed two infield hits while striking out six over six innings in the nightcap. In three of the four games in the series, WNCC shut out Colorado Northwestern in which it pitched two one-hitters and a two-hitter.
But three of the four games were also competitive. In the opener on Saturday, while three of Colorado Northwestern's four runs were earned, WNCC made its share of mistakes.
"About everything you can do wrong in a baseball game we did," WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore said.
WNCC made two errors, including a throwing error by Josh Brink in the first inning on a pickoff attempt. The Wildcats also got just one out on two groundballs that they should have turned into double plays. There was also four walks, a hit batsman and a lost flyball in the sun that went for a double.
Brink lasted 1.2 innings, giving up two runs. Josh Creveling allowed a run over three innings and Jake Bottari didn't allow a run in two-third's of an inning.
With the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Jeremy Joustra, who got one out, and Dan Grubbs, who also got one out, couldn't keep the game tied as Colorado Northwestern scored the winning run.
WNCC trailed 3-1 in the sixth when Pat Grennan came through with an RBI single and another run scored on a throwing error on the play to tie the game 3-3. Logan Parsley, Andrew Reid, Andrew Ferguson, Brad Carlsen, Cliff Shepard and Kevin Schlange all added a hit for the Wildcats.
In the nightcap, T.J. Wohlever came on to record two outs in the seventh, but Colorado Northwestern got two runners on before Wes Osmer came on to record the final out to pick up the save.
Schlange went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI and Kyle Bondurant, Reid, Grennan and Chuck Howard all added a hit.
"Sauer and Garcia, they're getting better with every start," said Whittemore about Sauer and Garcia, who also didn't allow a run this weekend. "It's exciting to see those guys take the mound.
"The big thing to keep in mind, losing a game this weekend isn't going to keep us from accomplishing our goal which is to become the best we can be."
The Wildcats have still won 9 of their last 12, taking three-of-four from Southern Idaho, Salt Lake and Colorado Northwestern.
"We're making strides in the right direction," Whittemore said. "We're playing very well. We're just not playing very well all four games and that's what we'll try to do this weekend."
WNCC will host Eastern Utah this weekend. Eastern Utah is tied for fourth with Salt Lake and leads the conference in hitting. Whittemore said this weekend will be a matchup between possibly the conference's top hitting team against the league's top pitching team.
"We'll have our hands full," Whittemore said. "It will be a good matchup. We won't look past anybody. We're not good enough. We're still trying to prove we belong."
TWO MORE SIGNED
WNCC has signed two more pitchers in Damonte Ranch's Donald Broderick and Erik Lomeli of Glendale, Ariz.
Whittemore said Broderick has the makeup to do well in the SWAC as he has a sinking fastball in the low to mid 80s. Whittemore said Lomeli was possibly good enough to be recruited in the Pac 10, but didn't qualify academically.
The Wildcats now have 19 players committed for next season, with 16 signed and three as verbally committed walk-ons. Whittemore said he has two more scholarships, which he plans to offer to pitchers. He also said he would like to add another position player and a catcher as walk-ons.