Wildcats open season with a win

Wildcats open season with a win

By Charles Whisnand

Appeal Sports Editor

Las Vegas - Nothing changes with the Western Nevada College baseball

program. The names may change, but the formula for success remains the same.

In the Wildcats' season opener on Friday at Centennial High, Darren Bruhns

became the new hero, while Kevin Schlange was among the veterans who shined.

Both came through with clutch performances in the Wildcats 16-6 win over

South Mountain Community College of Phoenix.

Bruhns went 2-for-2 and reached base in all five of his plate appearances.

He came through with a bases-clearing triple that was the turning point of

the game and also handled WNC's pitching staff well in his first game as the

Wildcats' catcher.

"I just visualized myself having success," Bruhns said. "I couldn't have

written a better script than this for the first game."

WNC's first six runs all came with two outs. The game-turning rally for four

runs all came after there were two outs and nobody on. Then the Wildcats

scored their final 10 runs on just two hits.

The Wildcats scored their last 10 runs on the strength of nine walks, two

wild pitches, three hit batsmen and two sacrifice bunts.

"The short answer is no, I haven't," said WNC coach D.J. Whittemore when he was

asked if he's ever been involved in a game in which a team scored 10 runs on

two hits. "I think our hitters did a good job staying within themselves and

making their pitchers throw strikes."

Whittemore said he was also pleased with the performance of starting pitcher

Kyle Starratt, Javier Perez and Travis Feiner. Starratt and Perez each gave

up three runs in four innings.

Feiner, who started the game at second, pitched a scoreless ninth inning,

striking out two. With a relatively tight strike zone on a cold early

evening, WNC's pitchers walked just three batters.

"That speaks volumes about our pitchers and Bruhns did a great job,"

Whittemore said. "That was a legitimate strike zone."

Bruhns called every pitch as has always been the case for catchers in WNC's

program.

The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the first on Logan Odom's two-out, two-run

single after Andrew Reid had singled to load the bases. After South Mountain

took a 3-2 lead in the third, WNC mounted a four-run rally in the bottom of

the third that came after there were two outs and nobody on.

Feiner singled and Bruhns followed with his three-run triple. Schlange

followed with an RBI single to make it 6-3.

"That was the difference of the game," said Whittemore, who said he thought about Bruhns, "maybe he can walk in a run. Then he rips the first pitch for a triple."

WNC scored three runs without a hit in the fifth to take a 9-3 lead.

Schlange made it 9-3 with a perfectly executed squeeze bunt that scored

Marshall Kinnebrew. Logan Parsley almost made it 11-3 with a mammoth two-run

shot in the inning, but his 400-foot drive down the left field line was just

foul.

Schlange said he should benefit from his experience last year with WNC.

"Playing last year gave me a lot of confidence," he said.

The Wildcats added five runs in the seventh to take a 14-5 lead. The only

hit in the inning came on Reid's RBI single.

The Wildcats added two more runs in the eighth to make it 16-6 on Brett

Moravec's two-run single.

The two teams continue their four-game series with a doubleheader beginning

at noon today at Sierra Vista High. Whittemore said nobody should be fooled

by Friday's result.

"They're a very good baseball team," he said. "I expect them to come out and

play real well tomorrow. We're going to have our hands full."

Notes: Chuck Howard, Kyle Gutchewsky and Davis Banks all didn't play Friday

as they all served a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules.

Cliff Shepard also sat out with a sore hamstring. Whittemore said Shepard

will likely only be available to pinch hit this weekend.

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