After 15 'Crevelings,' Wildcats sweep SLCC
By Charles Whisnand
Appeal Sports Editor
Officially the length of the wildest, wackiest game in the short history of Western Nevada College baseball will be four hours or so and 15 innings.
But actually, this game really began a couple weeks ago in an otherwise unnoticed moment that could end up going down as the most important that's happened this season.
It happened after the Wildcats completed a sweep of a doubleheader against College of Southern Nevada. With everyone else celebrating, WNC coach D.J. Whittemore was talking to Josh Creveling a few feet away.
Creveling hadn't been seeing that much action on the mound and while he wasn't upset, Whittemore still wanted to let Creveling know that his time would come. Boy, did it come in a big way on Friday.
Thanks to Creveling's 7 2/3 scoreless innings in relief, the Wildcats were able to finish off a sweep of a doubleheader on Friday, beating Salt Lake Community College 7-6 in 15 innings at John L. Harvey Field.
With a 7-4 win in the opener, the Wildcats were also able to keep their chances alive to catch the Bruins for the Scenic West Athletic Conference regular season title with the sweep. WNC (20-10 in conference, 26-17 overall) now trails Salt Lake (23-7) by three games in the standings.
"Just hang in there, you'll get some innings," said Creveling about what Whittemore told him during that meeting.
What Whittemore told Creveling turned into an obvious understatement. Creveling, who struck out nine, did admit, "It's always frustrating not getting innings."
Creveling's effort enabled the Wildcats to preserve Josh Barajas for the series' final two games in a doubleheader that begins at noon today. Barajas was needed for just one inning to pick up the save in Friday's opener.
Creveling's effort also helped the Wildcats overcome four straight innings in which they wasted golden opportunities to win. But Creveling didn't see it that way.
"I wouldn't necessarily call it wasting chances," he said. "That's just baseball. The thing about it is we stuck with it. Eventually we knew that we'd get it done. That was awesome."
Ironically, WNC's inability to push a run across for so long may have worked to its advantage because Salt Lake ace reliever David McKnight had to work more than four innings. As the tough luck loser, McKnight finally allowed a run in his 12th conference appearance - if you can really say he allowed it because the winning run was unearned.
And who knows how much McKnight has in the tank for today. But then again, Salt Lake still has a deep pitching staff with two of its top starters, Adam Gunn (8-0) and Payton Rentmeister and another one of its top relievers, Preston Grimes still available for today.
And Todd Morlock was able to save much of Salt Lake's pitching staff as he threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings before McKnight entered.
The fun really began in the 10th when WNC's Mike Long led off with a single. Instead of having Brian Barnett bunt, he was allowed to swing away and appeared to hit into a double play. But an errant throw to second allowed Long to advance to third.
Lance Ray was then intentionally walked to load the bases. But Morlock got Brett Moravec to hit a comebacker for a 1-2-3 double play and eventually escaped the jam.
In the 11th, Chuck Howard reached second on an error and Logan Parsley bunted pinch runner Darren Bruhns to third with one out. But with the infield drawn in, Travis Feiner ground to shortstop Kyle Bubak, who caught Bruhns in a rundown, effectively ending that rally.
In the 12th, Ray doubled and then Moravec singled, but Bubak was able to knock the ball down and then nail Ray trying to score at the plate with a throw from shallow left center field.
In the 13th, Marshall Kennebrew led off with a double, but Bruhns popped up his bunt attempt for the first out of the inning. Parsley then grounded into the hole, but Bubak did it again, catching Kennebrew in rundown. Salt Lake then ended up throwing out Parsley at first for an inning-ending double play.
Creveling received defensive help in the 14th when Moravec robbed Bubak of an extra base hit with a spectacular diving catch at third.
In the 15th, Ray and Kennebrew walked and Moravec was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Bruhns grounded to second baseman Brandon Keller. But Keller bobbled the ball and his throw home wasn't in time as Ray scored.
"It wasn't the cleanest played game I've ever been a part of," Whittemore said. "It's right up there with the most gratifying wins. I think it's what's made Salt Lake such a special club to this point, just knowing how to win. I think we took a step in the right direction."
WNC was also able to win a one-run game, improving to 4-9 in one-run games on the season.
Starter Kyle Starratt gave up six runs, four earned, in 4 2/3 innings before giving way to Andrew Reid, who struck out five over 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Kennebrew and Parsley had RBI singles and Barnett and Jerome Pena had RBI doubles as WNC took a 4-1 lead before Salt Lake fought back to go up 6-4. Barnett's second homer of the day and Travis Feiner's RBI double tied it 6-6 for WNC.
Kennebrew had three hits, Barnett and Feiner each had two hits and Cliff Shepard and Howard each added one.
Even though he pitched a complete game in the opener, WNC was able to give Chad Ellis his first conference loss of the season.
Ray's two-run home run gave WNC a 2-0 lead in the first, but starter Josh Moody ran into trouble in the second and it could have been a lot worse if not for help from his defense. Moody allowed three runs on five hits in the inning, but received help when Pena threw out a runner at third from right field and Howard threw out a runner trying to steal second.
Moody settled down, retiring 12 of his next 13 batters before allowing Scott Manning's double and Felix Segovia's RBI single that brought Salt Lake to within 5-4 in the sixth. Moody went on to pitch six innings for the win. Barajas retired the side in order in the seventh for the save.
Shepard's RBI double tied it 3-3 in the bottom of the second and Barnett's first homer of the day and Kennebrew's RBI single gave WNC a 5-3 lead in the fifth. After Kyle Gutchewsky and Barnett singled, Ray's two-run triple gave WNC a 7-4 lead in the sixth.
Ray also doubled to give him three hits and four RBI. "I was feeling great," Ray said. "I got some good pitches to hit. I was just relaxed. I was seeing the ball real well. Moody kept us in the game. He kept battling. He's a competitor. We just kept battling as a team and got the job done."
Shepard had another double for two hits, Feiner doubled and Parsley and Pena each added a hit.
Note: Pena was pulled early from the nightcap for conduct detrimental to the team as Whittemore put it. Pena's removal forced Barnett to move from left to right. Whittemore said Pena would be back in action today.