Sophomores Peters, Lichty fuel WNC double header sweep
Years from now Western Nevada College baseball fans will say they watched DJ Peters play when he was in Wildcat blue and white uniform.
As his Major League Baseball draft stock continues to rise during his sophomore season, Peters ascended the Wildcat record book with his 13th home run of the season on Sunday at John L. Harvey Field in Carson City. With his third long ball of the weekend against Colorado Northwestern Community College, Peters moved up to second place on the Wildcats’ career homer list while padding his single-season mark.
Peters did much more damage to the Spartans, going 3 for 4 with four RBI as WNC rallied for an 8-4 victory in the opener. WNC completed the sweep 10-2 behind Tim Lichty’s three extra-base hits and five RBI, and the pitching of sophomore Jordan Dreibelbis.
“Those are huge,” Peters said of his run-scoring base hits. “Home runs are nice because they get everyone excited, but in the baseball game, my two base hits were super key because they were an RBI and two RBIs.”
WNC gained a game on SWAC leader College of Southern Nevada (25-6). The Wildcats (23-9) crept within 2 games of the Coyotes while clinching at least second place with eight games to play.
The Wildcats (33-15 overall) continue their four-series home stand later this week with a four-game series against Utah State University Eastern starting Friday at noon.
The Wildcats took advantage of CNCC’s wild bullpen in the sixth inning to seize control. After hurting the Spartans with a game-winning hit on Saturday, Justin Mannens pained them with his speed Sunday after working a leadoff walk in the sixth.
“It seemed like every inning they got the leadoff hitter on first, and you see what happens when I got walked,” Mannens said. “The leadoff off guy on first is just a game changer. It opens up hit and run, bunt, so many things, and it puts pressure on the defense.”
With Mannens on third base and the bases loaded the Wildcat perfectly read a ball that glanced off the glove of catcher Caden Woods, diving across the plate to score the lead run.
“I know a lot of people don’t like to slide headfirst into home, but it’s not too bad going into the pitcher because they usually don’t know how to block the plate,” Mannens said. “Our thing there was seeing the ball go out of the circle. When that ball hit off his glove and fell out of the circle, I got a good read and I knew I had a really good chance of being safe there.”
The one-run lead gave WNC’s top of the order an opportunity relax and deliver some insurance. Bell’s RBI single to right and Peters’ two-run base hit to right gave WNC an 8-4 edge heading into the final inning.
Kyle Thompson (3-1) earned the win in relief of Jordan Ragan. Thompson allowed three hits and one earned run, while striking out three and walking two.
Ragan tossed 29 pitches in the first inning as a leadoff walk, a sacrifice bunt and a RBI single by Taylor Riding contributed to the Spartans marking the scoring column first.
Peters tied the score 1-1 with a two-out homer to right in the bottom of the first, his 20th homer in a Wildcat uniform.
“(Trevar Bradley) came with a first-pitch slider and I took it, then the second-pitch slider away, and that’s why I took it to right field because it was away,” Peters said.
The Wildcats went ahead 3-1 in the second frame as Chandler Barkdull raced home on Sam Salyers’ groundout to the right side of the infield and Eric Flores crossed the plate on a passed ball by catcher Caden Woods.
After two outs in the fourth inning, the Spartans capitalized on Ragan’s difficulty finding the strike zone as Tanner Nieslanik looped a run-scoring single to cut WNC’s lead to 3-2.
Ragan also walked the first two Spartans in the fifth. Again CNCC capitalized, scoring twice on RBI hits by Taylor Wright and Brady Hoskins to regain the lead, 4-3. Ragan was lifted on an 0-2 count with one out. An assist from left fielder Bradley Lewis prevented the Spartans from a bigger inning. Lewis’ throw from foul territory arrived ahead of Sergio Reyes, and Salyers put down the tag in plenty of time for the out.
“I don’t think anything was different for me; it was just an off-day,” Ragan said. “They had good approaches at the plate. They wait for their pitch.”
The Wildcats rallied in the bottom of the fifth after David Modler beat out an infield single. Bell sacrificing Modler to second paid off as Peters followed with a RBI single to left to retie the score at 4.
WNC’s freshman left-hander gave up five hits and three earned runs. Ragan walked five and struck out four. Ragan made three straight quality starts coming into the game. His string of effective starts included two complete games.
In Game 2, Lichty hit a wind-blown double that kicked off the turf into the left-field corner, scoring Bell and Peters. With two outs, Lewis doubled to left to plate Lichty for a 3-0 WNC lead.
Dreibelbis (6-2) limited the Spartans to two baserunners through the first four innings. But the Spartans broke up his shutout in the third on Nieslanik’s run-scoring hit, then pulled within a run on Christopher Haines’ fifth-inning sacrifice fly. Lichty’s opposite-field homer to open the bottom of the sixth inning gave WNC a 4-2 lead. It was Lichty’s 10th homer of the season, joining Peters as one of six Wildcats who have hit 10 or more homers in a season.
Peters tacked on a RBI single in the seventh, increasing WNC’s lead to 5-2. Lichty followed with a two-run double to the gap in right-center field. Lichty finished 3 for 4 with two runs scored and five RBI, Peters was 2 for 4 with a run scored and a RBI, Bell was 2 for 4 with two runs and a RBI and Lewis contributed two hits and a RBI.