By Charles Whisnand
Appeal Sports Editor
LAS VEGAS - It likely should have been the prognosis that the Western Nevada College baseball team was going to struggle this early in the season.
With virtually no time to practice outside, a 2-5 start is understandable. But at the same time, the Wildcats obviously aren't happy after a 9-1 loss to Pima Community College of Tucson, Ariz., on Sunday at Sierra Vista High.
WNC coach D.J. Whittemore noted that last year's team that advanced to the JUCO World Series started out 2-6. He also noted the 2006 team that won the Scenic West Athletic Conference regular season title, was under .500 (9-11) for the first 20 games. And he has lost his faith in this year's team, believing it can achieve the same type of success.
"Obviously they're better than us right now and that's to be expected," Whittemore said. "They play baseball in Tucson and we play baseball in Carson City.
"We're not going to make any excuses and nobody's going to do us any favors. But that's how we like it. I'm very confident that they're going to prove to have the heart of a champion."
Sunday's game was played in surreal conditions, with a drizzle falling throughout and the wind blowing up to 30 miles an hour, which caused some crazy bounces. Josh Creveling started on the mound for WNC and didn't pitch that badly through four innings as he was the victim of some bad luck.
After an error and a walk, Pima took a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run double and an RBI double. WNC scored its lone run in the bottom of the first on a weird play. After Logan Parsley singled, he scored all the way from first on a hit and run on Brian Barnett's single. Barnett hit a slow roller that ended up in shallow right field and by the time Pima was able to retrieve the ball, Parsley was able to score.
Pima made it 5-1 in the second on a two-run inside the park home run with the help of another crazy bounce. The shot to right center field bounced on the concrete below the fence and ball ended up about 60 feet away, leading to the inside-the-park homer.
In the fourth, another crazy hop led to a double and then a wild blown popup that landed for an RBI single gave Pima a 6-1 lead.
James Crockett came on and pitched a scoreless fifth, but ran into trouble in the sixth when he allowed three runs on five hits. Travis Feiner came on to pitch a scoreless seventh, striking out one.
The Wildcats continued to struggle to cash in their chances asn they could score just one run on nine hits. A typical sequence of what this season has been like so far cane in the fifth when WNC had runners at second and third with one out, but failed to score after the next two batters struck out.
Barnett and Davis Banks both continued their hot hitting as both had two hits. Andrew Reid, Lance Ray, Chuch Howard and Kyle Gutchewsky all added a hit for WNC.