Wildcats sweep Golden Eagles
By Charles Whisnand
Appeal Sports Editor
When a team is in a pennant race, it sure helps to have a day like the Western Nevada College baseball team had on Friday.
The Wildcats swept a doubleheader against College of Southern Idaho to open this weekend's four-game series, winning the opener 6-2 and the nightcap 11-1 in five innings at John L. Harvey Field. Kyle Starratt pitched five scoreless innings in the opener and Josh Moody ended up with a complete game, going the five innings in the nightcap.
The day went about as well as it could for WNC (24-15 overall, 18-8 in the Scenic West Athletic Conference), which is trying to keep pace with Salt Lake Community College in the race for the SWAC regular season title.
Salt Lake is playing College of Eastern Utah this weekend and held a three-game lead over the Wildcats in the race for first coming into the weekend.
"The story of the day is Starratt and Moody," WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said. "Those guys have been darn near perfect for a month now. Those guys give us so much confidence."
Maybe a little too much confidence. "It's great to score a lot of runs," Moody said. But... "I wanted to stay out there and pitch, but it was only five innings," Moody said.
With Starratt's and Moody's performances, WNC didn't have to use ace reliever Jose Barajas. And depending on how well Kyle Farrell pitches in the third game today, Whittemore could end up using both Barajas and Jordan Blanchard in the fourth game.
"It's nice to have that kind of problem, having a stocked and full bullpen," Whittemore said.
In the nightcap, WNC was able to beat one of the conference's top pitchers in Jason Oatman, who was coming off wins over Salt Lake and College of Southern Nevada. But Oatman uncharacteristically struggled with his control, walking four and allowing five runs, three earned, through 3 2/3 innings.
It was actually a sloppy start for Moody and WNC as Matt Deacon walked to begin the game. Deacon then advanced to third on two errors by Lance Ray, when Ray couldn't handle Moody's pickoff throw to first and then threw into left centerfield when trying to throw out Deacon and second. Deacon came home on a wild pitch to give CSI a 1-0 lead.
But after former McQueen standout Travis Reynolds singled, Moody settled down, retiring 14 straight batters before Tyler Chism singled in the fifth. Moody retired 15 of the last 16 batters he faced while striking out seven and walking one.
"I started out a little shaky with my control but I ended up figuring it out and I could throw all my pitches for strikes," Moody said.
WNC took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first on Chuck Howard's two-run home run and then scored two more runs on a throwing error. Ray's homer gave the Wildcats a 5-1 lead in the third.
The Wildcats scored six runs in the fifth to end the game. Kyle Gutchewsky hit an RBI single and Brett Moravec hit a two-run double to make it 9-1. Howard eventually hit a walk-off two-run double to end the game on the mercy rule.
Howard had two hits and four RBI, Moravec and Kennebrew each doubled twice and Jerome Pena added a single.
In the opener, Starratt struck out four and didn't walk a batter until the fifth when he struggled with his control because he was having a problem with the ball slipping off his ring finger. But Starratt ended up just walking one and worked through the problem.
"I got out of it, which is good," Starratt said.
Starratt also worked around Deacon's leadoff double to begin the game. Gutchewsky was charged with an error on Starratt's pickoff throw, which allowed Deacon to advance to third with no outs. But Starratt got two popups and a strikeout to escape the jam and went on to retire nine straight.
Brian Barnett and Jerome Pena walked and Lance Ray singled to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first and WNC ended up taking a 1-0 lead when a run scored on a double play.
Barnett hit a two-run triple and Ray had an RBI-single to make it 4-0 in the second. Cliff Shepard hit an RBI double and scored on an error to make it 6-0 in the fifth.
Andrew Reid allowed a run on Jed Hanson's RBI single in the sixth and Javy Perez allowed a run on a fielder's choice in the seventh. Ray had two hits and Howard and Travis Feiner each added a hit.
Whittemore said his team did a good job of not overswinging, adding hitting coach Aaron Demosthenes worked all week with the players to "let the ball travel."
I thought we did a real nice job of executing the game plan and selecting good pitches to hit," Whittemore said.
The two teams will finish the series with a doubleheder, beginning at noon today. "They're very resilient," said Whittemore about CSI. "They're as mentally tough as there are. I expect them to give us a great battle."
Note: Today's games can be heard at www.csi.edu/athletics by clicking on listen live.