Bombs away for Peters
No pitcher likes seeing two-time Major League Baseball draftee DJ Peters coming to the plate, especially with the bases loaded.
Salt Lake pitcher Jayden Hartle faced that predicament on Saturday afternoon and paid the price. Peters crushed a Hartle changeup well over the left-field fence for a game-turning grand slam, leading the Western Nevada College to a 10-5 Scenic West Athletic Conference baseball victory in West Jordan, Utah.
Peters supplemented his big offensive day with a two-run homer on a fastball from reliever Ian Ence in the sixth inning. The sophomore center fielder finished with three hits, three runs scored and six RBI.
“DJ was really tough to get out today, and we had a lot of different contributors on offense,” said WNC coach D.J. Whittemore.
The Wildcats rallied for a 9-4 victory in Game 2, roughing up the Bruin bullpen for six hits and five runs during a pivotal sixth inning. A two-out RBI single by David Modler and a two-run double by Peters highlighted the uprising.
The doubleheader sweep kept WNC in first place in the SWAC standings at 7-1. The Wildcats, who have won 10 off their past 11 games, are 17-7 overall. It was WNC’s first series win at Salt Lake since 2013 and only the second time the Wildcats have done so since 2009.
“We had a great series, and I am extremely proud of my teammates and coaching staff,” Peters said.
After the Bruins closed within a run in the third inning, the Wildcats put together two-out rally in the fourth. An error by right fielder Micquel Robinson allowed Casey Cornwell to advance to second base. Leadoff hitter Chandler Barkdull surprised the Bruins with a bunt single along the third-base line, then Tim Lichty filled the bases for Peters with a walk.
Peters’ fifth homer of the season cleared the fence so fast that left fielder Nic Roberts just turned and watched it leave the park.
“With the bases loaded in a close game, I knew they were going to get me to chase something out of the zone,” Peters said. “The pitcher hung a changeup, and I got all of it.”
The offensive fireworks by Peters made a winner of freshman pitcher Jordan Ragan. Ragan (2-1) worked into the sixth inning, allowing six hits and four earned runs.
The Wildcats spotted the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the first inning but came back to go ahead 2-1 in the second. Modler’s two-out single to center scored Justin Mannens and Daniel Nist.
Bradley Lewis executed a hit and run in the third inning to extend WNC’s lead to 3-1. With Peters on the move from first, Lewis split the gap for two bases.
Austin Ovard’s RBI single pulled the Bruins to within a run in the third, but Ragan stranded two Bruins in scoring position by getting Easton Tallon to ground out to second baseman Mannens. Ragan also stranded two Bruins on base in the fourth.
Modler padded WNC’s cushion to 8-2 with a RBI double in the fifth.
Modler, Lewis and Peters combined for seven of the Wildcats’ 10 hits. Modler was 2 for 3 with three RBI and Lewis went 2 for 3 with a RBI.
In the series finale, the Wildcats parlayed two extra-base hits into a 1-0 first-inning lead. Modler tripled with one out and scored on Lewis’ double to left.
Joe Barlow’s two-run single in the second put Salt Lake on top, 2-1. The lead, however, was short-lived as Brogan Secrist followed a base hit by Sam Salyers with his first homer of the season.
Ty Fox relieved Jordy Van den Heuvel with two Bruins on base in the third inning. Trevor Peterson greeted Fox with a base hit to right to tie the score at 3 and the Bruins went ahead, 4-3, on a passed ball.
The seesaw scoring continued in the sixth as the Wildcats erupted for five runs on six hits. Chad Bell fueled the rally with a pinch-hit single to center. Abe Yagi sent Bell to third with a double. Eric Flores tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center, and Cornwell put WNC in front, 5-4, with a base hit. Reliever Mitch Cavanagh fared no better as Modler added a RBI single and Peters delivered a two-run double for an 8-4 WNC lead.
Fox worked 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn his first win of the season. Josh Mill pitched the final two innings, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts.
“Ty could be a starter on a lot of teams,” Whittemore said. “He did both last year and he’s capable of doing it this year. Having an arm like that at the end of the series tells you a lot about our pitching staff.”
Modler’s three hits and two runs paced the Wildcats’ 13-hit attack. Secrist was 2 for 5 with two runs scored and two RBI, while Cornwell chipped in two hits and two RBI and Bell came off the bench for two hits and a run scored.
“We are starting to develop an identity by consistently competing every day, every pitch, every inning,” Whittemore said. “Especially offensively we are going to grind. It’s fun to coach teams like that.”
WNC will continue conference play on the road by visiting Colorado Northwestern on Friday and Saturday in Rangely.