Bad series for WNCC’s Miller, but a great swing of the bat |

Bad series for WNCC’s Miller, but a great swing of the bat

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Thomas Miller is having a lousy JUCO World Series. He’s 1-for-9 with five strikeouts. He’s been completely lost at the plate.

Yet no player for the Western Nevada Community College baseball team has made a bigger contribution.

Miller hit a grand slam home run on Monday to give the Wildcats a 5-1 lead in the third inning over the No. 1 team in the nation, New Mexico Junior College. The Wildcats went on to win 8-4, improving to 2-0 in the World Series to stay in the winner’s bracket. WNCC will play San Jacinto College of Texas at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

In Miller’s first at bat, New Mexico’s Adam Kramer made him look bad, striking him out with three straight sliders. But in his second at-bat, Miller was ready for the slider.

Kramer tried to keep Miller off balance with a fastball at the knees on the inside corner for strike one. But on the second pitch he got what he wanted and drove it over the left field fence. “I got a breaking ball up and hit it hard,” Miller said.

“That was a big blow, obviously,” WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore said. “A game-changing at-bat right there for Thomas. He’s been clutch. He’s been the heart and soul of this program for the past two years. I couldn’t be more happier for him.”

Miller said he’s been grateful that the rest of the team has picked up the slack while he’s been struggling. “They did an outstanding job and played great defense and it was a big-time win,” Miller said. “This (New Mexico) is a great baseball team.

“I’m just happy I could get a hit when our team needed it. We’re just playing great team baseball right now.”

And Miller has been a team player himself. He has not allowed his struggles at the plate to affect his defense. He’s played superbly at third base in the first two games, not making an error while handling numerous tough chances. Miller said it’s always in a player’s best interest to play well defensively when he’s struggling offensively.

And don’t look for Miller to keep struggling. “Big-time,” said Miller when asked if he’s still confident at the plate. “I’m up there every time thinking I’m going to get a hit.

“Every baseball player struggles at times. Every good baseball player can bounce back.”

Miller has already put in the extra work to break out of his slump. After everyone had concluded practice on Sunday, Miller could still be seen working on his swing in the batting cage. Miller’s extra practice came after he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in WNCC’s 2-0 win over Delgado Community College of New Orleans.

“The first game ,I obviously struggled a little bit. I’m having a little trouble seeing the ball.”

For one swing, the extra batting session paid off.