COLLEGE: WNC gets some revenge against Bruins
Western Nevada entered Friday’s doubleheader against Salt Lake Community College eager to prove that losing three straight to the Bruins earlier this seasons was an aberration.
The Wildcats got some tremendous pitching in both games and some timely hitting to grab 1-0 and 3-2 wins at John L. Harvey Field.
The sweep gives WNC a 35-3 record in conference while Salt Lake drops to 28-10. The second victory was the program’s 250th. The teams conclude the regular season and the four-game series today with a noon doubleheader. The Wildcats will honor their sophomores between games.
“Personally I’d say yes,” said WNC catcher Patrick McMeel when asked if the Wildcats, who clinched the regular-season title last weekend, were trying to make a point. “You always want to get better as the season progresses. I wanted to beat them badly after losing those three games. We definitely wanted to prove something.”
WNC coach D.J. Whittemore was a little more reserved when talking about the situation.
“We always play with a chip on our shoulder,” Whittemore said. “We did have a lot to prove. I considered us the underdog. They had won more games (overall) and lost fewer games (overall).
“Today we made a couple key pitches with runners on base and we got a couple of timely hits.”
The first game had all the tension and drama that comes when two good teams hook up. Despite the fact that only one run was scored, the teams combined to use seven pitchers, three by WNC and four by the Bruins, in the seven-inning game.
The game was scoreless after five innings, as Chris Garrison allowed two hits and fanned four while SLCC’s Adam Gunn and A.J. Carman combined to limit the Wildcats to one hit with four strikeouts and four walks.
WNC came the closest to scoring in that span, putting runners on first and third with one out. Brooks Klein, who had singled, broke for second. Beau Day, the runner at third, broke for the plate but Salt Lake’s Eddy Alvarez gunned down Day at home with a perfect throw. Klein reached second, but didn’t advance any farther.
Salt Lake loaded the bases against Garrison with two out in the top of the sixth. Anthony Consiglio came on to pitch, and retired Dominique Taylor on a liner to second base.
Lefty Tyson Memmott came on in the sixth for Salt Lake, but faced just three batters.
With one out, Day walked for the second time. He moved around to third on a pinch-hit single by Zach Hendrix.
Jordan Hager came on to face Sean Potkay, one of the top run producers for the Wildcats. Potkay dropped down a perfect squeeze bunt and Day slid in with what proved to be the winning run. Jon Sigado lined into a double play to end the inning.
“I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks,” Potkay said. “It was a slider. It didn’t move too much.”
“It was a last-second decision,” Whittemore said. “The guy pitching throws a lot of strikes (30 innings, 2 walks). I thought we would catch them by surprise. Potkay did a good job getting it down.”
Salt Lake loaded the bases again in the seventh against Consiglio, but Andrew Woeck came on and got Tyson Popoff to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
“It was nice (to start),” Garrison said. “All four pitches were working pretty good, and Pat (McMeel) did a good job calling them at the right time.
“The team backed me all the way. I didn’t want to come out, but I knew Anthony would protect me.”
In the second game, Kody Gorden gave up a first-inning homer to Braden Anderson, but WNC bounced back with two in the second on an opposite-field homer by Klein.
Salt Lake tied the game in the fourth on three hits and a costly throwing error by Taylor Smart on Mitch Manning’s infield hit.
The tie didn’t last long thanks to Klein, whose sacrifice fly to right in the bottom of the inning scored Day, who had reached on an error.
Then it was up to the Wildcats’ bullpen, namely Tyler Spencer and Brandon Jackson, to protect the lead.
Spencer worked 3.1 innings, allowing three hits before turning the ball over to Jackson after Taylor hit a two-run double. Jackson walked two batters before striking out Scott Manning to end the eighth.
Jackson retired the Bruins in order in the ninth to pick up the save. Spencer got credit for the win because Gorden didn’t pitch five innings.
“Spencer was dynamite,” said Whittemore, who noted that the right-hander has made tremendous strides this season. “He’s worked hard.”
Salt Lake reliever Tanner Banks also did a tremendous job, holding WNC to just two hits in 4.2 innings after taking over for Josh Mooney.