Western Nevada Community College pitching versus the hitting of the College of Eastern Utah: That was the storyline heading into the teams' doubleheader Friday at John L. Harvey Field.
Following the twinbill between the Wildcats and Golden Eagles, WNCC's pitching - not to mention its timely offense - was the featured attraction in a 11-1, 3-1 sweep in a Scenic West Athletic Conference matchup.
WNCC starters Cole Rohrbough (5-1) and Justin Garcia (4-3) allowed one earned run apiece in a combined 11 innings. Rohrbough surrendered three hits and struck out nine in five innings in the opener, while UNLV signee Garcia gave up four hits and two walks in striking out five in the nightcap.
The Wildcats exploded for nine runs in two innings behind Rohrbough and manufactured its three runs over the first three innings behind Garcia. Josh Creveling picked up his second save in relief of Garcia, while Wes Osmer added two scoreless innings of one-hit ball in relief of Rohrbough.
"I think we came out flat," said Golden Eagles assistant coach Frank Ori, who took over in the dugout after CEU head coach Scott Madsen was ejected in the bottom of the sixth inning of the second game. "Western Nevada has got great pitching. In the first game that lefty (Rohrbough) got on us early and shut us down. They kept hitting us. We had to go to the bullpen early."
"The second game was a pitching battle. I couldn't be more proud of the team, coming out and competing. We lost, 3-1, but (starter) Jayson Madson threw a good game for us. I'm real impressed with (WNCC coach) D.J. Whittemore, the way he works his batters and manufactures runs. He plays small ball. We'll look for that (Saturday)."
Madson spread out six hits and three runs (two earned) in going the distance for CEU, which fell to 9-15 overall and 6-12 in the SWAC.
The Wildcats improved to 18-13-1, 12-6.
Whittemore praised his sophomore pitching tandem of Rohrbough and Garcia for putting the Golden Eagles behind the eight-ball.
"Cole is a great way to start the series," Whittemore said. "He's as good a junior college pitcher as there is in the country. He works very hard and has gotten better every week.
"In game two, we were able to start a guy like Justin Garcia. He's been the ace of our staff in the first 22 weeks of our program."
Whittemore said he's also grown confident in his team's ability to back up its lock-down pitchers.
"Offensively, we've finally gotten to the point to where we can adapt our style to our pitching staff," he said. "We manufactured runs early in the (second game). When we score three runs, we have a good chance to win."
So it stands to reason that when WNCC scores 11 runs - which it did to end the first game in the sixth inning - it has a great chance to come out on top.
The Golden Eagles didn't help themselves when they committed five errors in the opener, in which they fell behind 3-0 in the fourth inning on a Pat Grennan RBI-single, a Chad Walling RBI-double and after Walling scored on a passed ball by starter Marcus Hamatake.
Hamatake went 4-plus innings, giving up five runs (three earned), four hits and one walk. He also hit three batters and struck out two.
Travis Ayoso, Jordon Salmon and Dominic Lyman combined to pitch two innings in relief, allowing a combined six runs and six hits.
The Wildcats put up six runs in the fifth inning. Grennan (3-for-4, 2 RBI) added an RBI-single off Ayoso, Brad Carlsen scored on a Walling groundout and a Taylor Mieras single brought in two more runs to make it 7-1.
Kyle Bondurant added an RBI-double and Carson High School graduate Logan Parsley's sacrifice fly pushed WNCC up 9-1.
The Wildcats put the game away in the sixth when Lyman walked Walling with the bases loaded and surrendered an RBI-single to Mieras. Mieras went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI and Walling finished 1-2 with 2 RBI.
"It's nice to see the top of the order producing, with Bondurant getting (four hits in two games), (Thomas) Miller hitting the ball hard and Logan getting the ball down and hitting it hard," Whittemore said. "Brad Carlsen is coming on strong. We're starting to play defense and cutting down on our strikeouts, which is certainly a goal."
Rohrbough, who went 6-3 last year, said he feels his pitching is improving, as is his mental game.
"I felt I located my fastball good - I was locating it at the knees real well," Rohrbough said. "I was able to get ahead (in the count) and finish them off with my off-speed stuff. I'm a completely different pitcher this year. My off-speed pitch is better and so is my velocity. The main thing is I've gotten better mentally."
Garcia, whose curveball was working well Friday, said his velocity has also improved. He gave credit to the offense, which he said makes him more secure on the hill.
"It feels a lot better on the mound when you have run support behind you," Garcia said. "I was able to work ahead and throw a lot of strikes. (CEU) is an aggressive team. We have the same mentality as last year. We take it one game at a time and play like it's our last game."
Bondurant scored on a throwing error to open the scoring in the first inning of the second game.
CHS graduate Kevin Schlange scored Grennan on a single up the middle for a 2-0 lead in the second and a Carlsen groundout scored Parsley for a 3-0 lead in the third.
Creveling relieved Garcia to begin the seventh. He gave up a pair of singles to Matt Park and Tyler Nelson to open the inning. After Park was thrown out at second on a Josh Ray grounder, Creveling got Jared Frank to hit into a game-ending double play.
"Creveling made it a little exciting, but we have a lot of confidence in him," Garcia said. "He got us out of it."
Whittemore said he is hoping for some assistance from an outside source in today's doubleheader with the Golden Eagles, beginning at noon.
"We hope to see a bunch of new faces (fans) at the yard and get the crowd going," Whittemore said. "We need to get a good crowd. I'm happy to open with two good wins against a good-hitting team."
Today's storyline - WNCC's pitching versus CEU's hitting - is likely to remain the same, but Whittemore is hoping the end result - a pair of Wildcat wins - also remains unchanged.