Freshman left-hander Matt Young on Friday nearly became the third Western Nevada College pitcher to throw a no-hitter.
Young no-hit Mount Hood Community College of Gresham, Ore., until catcher Louis Wolf bunted down the third-base line for the Saints’ first hit with two outs in the seventh inning at John L. Harvey Field in Carson City.
Young and reliever Kyle Johnson of Douglas High combined on a two-hit shutout as the Wildcats won the opening game of the doubleheader, 3-0. Both hits never left the infield.
Kody Reynolds knocked in five runs to back the pitching of Max Karnos as the Wildcats completed the sweep of the nonconference doubleheader with a 13-3 triumph in seven innings.
It was the second time this season Young (7-2) took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Young held Salt Lake Community College hitless for 6 1/3 innings on Feb. 20 as he combined with Connor Zwetsch on a one-hitter in a 4-1 WNC win.
“There was great plays behind me all day and I was just throwing strikes,” said Young, who threw three no-hitters at Reno High School. “Normally I get jinxed when I throw no-hitters; today, I didn’t, so I thought maybe there was a chance.”
Young was trying to become the third Wildcats’ pitcher to throw a no-hitter. Christian Stolo tossed one against Colorado Northwestern in 2013 and Kramer Champlin threw the program’s first no-hitter in 2009.
After Wolf dragged a bunt between catcher Brandon Lapointe and third baseman Blake Morin for the Saints’ first hit with two outs in the seventh, Young used a fly out to quickly end the Saints’ bid to rally.
“This isn’t about having a big ego; this is about winning baseball games,” said WNC coach D.J. Whittemore. “They are trying to win the game. If we are going to give them the drag bunt, they are going to take it.”
In the eighth, Taylor Travess beat out an infield single but was subsequently erased on a 1-3-6 pickoff started by Young. Young finished off his eight-inning outing with a pair of strikeouts. The former Reno High School pitcher had five strikeouts and two walks.
“He just earned his seventh win of the year and we still have seven weeks to go,” Whittemore said. “He’s having a great season, but I wouldn’t put today up there with any of the other good games I’ve seen him throw he’s this year.”
Johnson worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his first save.
Corey Pool provided Young with the only run he needed when he took a Seth Rayburn fastball over the left-field fence in the fifth.
“It was belt-high heat. He left it up and I took advantage of his miss,” said Pool of his team-leading sixth homer of the season.
Young said Pool’s blast made him more relaxed on the mound.
“I love runs,” Young said, “then I can just do my thing out there and not try too hard.”
It was the first hit surrendered up by Rayburn, who gave up six hits in eight innings.
“He had a lot of deception and was sneaky quick, getting on the hands of a lot of guys and getting the ball in on guys,” Whittemore said. “We were fortunate to get out of there with a win.”
The Wildcats added two more runs in the sixth to go ahead 3-0. Reynolds doubled in a run and D.J. Peters delivered a run-scoring single.
Pool had two of the six hits off Rayburn. Jake Bennett reached base in his final at-bat to extend his on-base streak to 36 games.
“I thought about it. Streaks are fun, but all that matters is when we are winning,” said Bennett, who went 3 for 3 in the second game to raise the streak to 37. “I was just trying to get on base there for the team. Another run there would have been huge.”
WNC didn’t have any trouble producing hits and runs in game two. The Wildcats produced 15 hits and scored seven runs in the second inning.
In the decisive inning, Reynolds just missed a grand slam, smashing a two-run double off the left-field fence, and Tim Lichty hit a two-run single back up the middle as the Wildcats scored seven runs against starting pitcher Aaron Clift.
“I didn’t think I hit it high enough and the wind was really coming in today from all directions, so it was really tough to get one out,” said Reynolds, who was 4 for 8 with six RBI and three runs scored in the two games.
Jay Rogers’ two-run single broke up Max Karnos’ shutout in the third inning.
The Saints pulled to within 7-3 in the fourth inning, the Wildcats distanced themselves by scoring a run in the fourth and four more in the fifth. Reynolds’ blooper got past a diving right fielder Evan Jones to score three runs.
“That was nice seeing something fall. I have been hitting a lot of balls right at people, so when you get one to fall, it always feels good,” said Reynolds, who leads WNC with 27 RBI. “It was really sweet hitting with a lot of guys on base. It’s always nice when you know you are going to get something right around the plate.”
WNC improved to 20-10 overall, while the Saints slipped to 7-5. The two teams are scheduled to play two more games today. First pitch is at noon.