CSN snaps Wildcats' win streak

Even if you completely missed the Western Nevada baseball team's doubleheader with Southern Nevada on Saturday afternoon, a quick drive past the campus about 6:30 p.m. would have told you the result.

After being a part of a 23-walk, 14-9 loss and complete-game, 6-0 shutout the 26 members of the Wildcats had to comb the desert surrounding John L. Harvey Field for errant foul balls.

"Now is when we need to start pointing fingers at ourselves," WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said. "Me as the coach, the pitching coach, the hitting coach, the players."

The losses snapped the 16th-ranked Wildcats (23-5 SWAC, 29-11) 14-game win streak and took what was a four-game lead in the Scenic West Athletic Conference coming into Saturday to two over CSN (21-7, 29-17) with 12 more conference games remaining for both.

WNC will host Southern Idaho beginning at noon Friday in a four-game series.

There was nothing positive to talk about after the Wildcats couldn't find a piece of what appeared to be a consistently bad strikezone in the first game. Six pitchers issued 11 walks and three hit batsmen and of the 14 free bases, eight of them scored.

"When you're scared to walk people, it's pretty hard to not walk people," Whittemore said. "And when you're pitching behind in a count nothing good happens. We didn't challenge the strikezone.

"When you get to the back end of the bullpen, that's why those guys are at the back end of the bullpen. Both the back end of our bullpen and their bullpen has as good or better stuff as at the top of the rotation, the difference is who can command the baseball."

The Coyotes didn't fair much better, with two pitchers giving up a combined 12 walks. But the difference was what each team did with the free passes. The Coyotes had 12 hits in the game and put together a six-hit fourth inning in each eight of the 13 batters scored.

WNC, on the other hand, had just five hits in the game and only registered more than one per inning on two occasions when it got just two in a seven-run fifth and two more in the eighth.

The Wildcats battled back after trailing 9-2 entering the bottom of the fifth, but used a three-run home run from Jerome Pena and a Cory Raymond two-RBI double to knot it up at 9-9.

The hit was Pena's only one on the day (1-for-6). Raymond was 2-for-3 in the first game with a sacrifice bunt. He didn't play the second game.

The tie didn't hold as Logan Odom (1-1) took the loss without retiring a batter in the sixth inning and walking the three he faced.

The win was a heavy dose of retribution for the Coyotes, who felt slighted after WNC was still bunting and playing small ball in its 10-4 win the first game Friday. They also lost 3-2 in 10 innings in the second game.

"They felt bad enough that we lost the game yesterday, I didn't have to tell them anything," CSN coach Tim Chambers said. "I was a little disappointed that they were bunting on us up seven or eight runs (Friday) and maybe (Whittemore) didn't feel safe or was just trying to get the 10-run rule. I certainly hope he wasn't trying to run it up on us.

"But it really didn't factor in. We didn't even need to talk about, it was just we need to get this (conference title race) back to two."

In Saturday's second game, Joe Robinson (5-2) held the Wildcats to just five hits. He also had nine strikeouts and issued just one walk. He out-dueled David Carroll (2-2), who said he pitched one of the best games of his life. The freshman gave up two runs, with only one being earned, and two hits in seven innings.

The game may have gone a different way had the Wildcats not lost their best hitter after the first inning. Brian Barnett, who is second on the team in total bases (72) to Lance Ray (90), was upset after taking two pitches in the first inning near the same location on the outside of the part of the plate. The first was called a ball and the second for strike three. Barnett turned to plate umpire Mike Evans and said something before walking back to the dugout.

A few moments after he returned to the dugout, Evans ejected Barnett.

The former McQueen standout will have to miss the first game against Southern Idaho as part of a mandatory one-game suspension per SWAC ejection rules.

"He's the player of the year, he's our three hitter, it would have been a very different game," Whittemore said. "There's no excuses and Brian's not going to make any, I'm not going to make any for him. The players on this team are good enough to step up and win without him and they didn't do it today."

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