Hitters don’t often receive the sign to hit away on a 3-0 count with their team trailing.
Kody Reynolds was given one in the eighth inning on Thursday at John L. Harvey Field and Western Nevada College’s sophomore shortstop took advantage of it for the second time in a week. Reynolds smashed Trenton Griffin’s pitch over the left-field fence, putting WNC ahead for the first time, 3-2.
But Salt Lake provided a quick answer, scoring a run in the ninth inning off closer Connor Zwetsch. The teams remained tied at 3 through the 12th inning, when the Scenic West Athletic Conference baseball game was suspended due to darkness.
The SWAC foes will pick up where they left off at noon today at John L. Harvey Field. The teams are also scheduled to play a doubleheader following the completion of the suspended game.
Reynolds said the situation called for him to swing away after Jake Bennett reached on an error to open the eighth and his team trailing 2-1.
“It depends on the situation, and with it being late in the game, I had a chance to tie it,” Reynolds said. “If we were down by a whole lot of runs, it would be a whole different story.”
When Reynolds received the OK to swing away, he anticipated the pitch’s location from Salt Lake reliever Trenton Griffin would be to his liking.
“That’s the best pitch you are going to see,” Reynolds said.
But WNC’s 3-2 lead didn’t hold up in the ninth with Zwetsch looking for his fourth save of the season.
“We might not be .500 without Connor,” said WNC coach D.J. Whittemore. “We owe a great deal to where we are right now this season to Connor, so he’s had our back for the last 20 games and we’re going to have his back today and tomorrow.”
Trevor Peterson started Salt Lake’s ninth-inning rally with a seeing-eye single up the middle. After Zac Willis bunted Peterson over to third base, Joe Barlow slammed an 0-2 Zwetsch offering into right-center field for a game-tying double.
For most of the afternoon, it was a duel between Bruin right-hander Jason Jourdan and Wildcat right-hander Max Karnos. Jourdan lasted 6 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and one earned run. Karnos, seeking his third win of the season, left after the eighth inning. He gave up six hits and one earned run while fanning eight and walking one.
Peters launched his first home run as a Wildcat in the bottom of the second inning, trimming the Bruins’ lead to 2-1. It was the freshman’s seventh extra-base hit of the season.
“It feels good to join the party and get our first run on the board for the day,” Peters said.
Karnos labored through the first two frames, facing six Bruins in the first and five in the second. The sophomore right-hander, however, found his groove starting in the third, retiring nine Bruins in a row at one point.
Salt Lake threatened in the seventh, prompting Whittemore to implement an unusual defensive alignment. With Taylor Snyder on second base and two outs, the Wildcats employed five infielders, leaving right field vacated. Expecting right-handed hitter Garrett Bushman to pull the ball, Whittemore positioned three fielders on the left side on the infield, but Bushman was able to put a ball into play to the right side. Fortunately for the Wildcats, second baseman Modler made a diving stop and threw out Bushman to prevent a run from scoring.
“Modler did a great job and made a nice play,” Whittemore said. “We had a groundball pitcher on the mound. It was something we’d been thinking about. It was something out of the ordinary, but it was an out-of-the ordinary situation.”
The Wildcats wasted a chance to tie or take the lead in the seventh. Corey Pool led off with a double down the left-field line but was stranded on third base.
Bennett led the Wildcats with two hits.
It marked the 21st straight game the sophomore has reached base.