WNC baseball finishes off four-game sweep of CSI
Western Nevada College put on a two-out hitting clinic Friday afternoon at John L. Harvey Field.
The Wildcats scored eight of their 11 runs in that fashion en route to the doubleheader sweep of College of Southern Idaho, 6-4 and 5-4.
The two wins gave WNC a series sweep in its first Scenic West series of the year, and gives the locals plenty of momentum heading into next week’s series against Salt Lake. The series is scheduled for WNC, but could be moved to Salt Lake pending the weather forecast.
The wins came in contrasting styles. In the opener, WNC built a 6-1 lead and had to withstand a three-run rally in the seventh by CSI to record the win. The win in the nightcap came down to a no-out suicide squeeze bunt by Casey Cornwell which snapped a 4-all tie.
“It’s just one lap, and we’ve got plenty to go,” WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said. “We have to keep getting better. We’ll enjoy this until Monday, and then we need to focus on Salt Lake.”
One thing WNC can’t really improve on is two-out hitting. When you score all of your runs on two-out production that’s pretty good.
“We weren’t doing anything special,” said WNC hitting coach Aaron Demosthenes. “We are looking for hard contact before two strikes and just trying to get the ball in play when we get two strikes.”
The two-strike magic started in the third inning of the opening game.
David Modler, the No. 9 hitter, singled with one out and moved to second on Justin Mannens’ two-out infield single. D.J. Peters followed with a ringing double to left-center field scoring both runners for a 2-0 lead.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 3-0 in the fifth, and once again Modler and Peters figured into the scoring.
Modler was plunked by CSI starter Alec West-Guillen with no outs. Modler stole second and scored when Peters hit a two-out single.
After CSI pushed across a run against starter Chase Kaplan to make it 3-1, the Wildcats exploded for three more runs, all coming after two out.
Bradley Lewis walked and was caught stealing. Daniel Nist walked and was replaced by Riley Hennings. Chad Bell came off the bench and singled to center with two outs, Hennings stopping at second. Bell scored on Modler’s single and then Chandler Barkdull delivered a single to right to score two more runs. That hit turned out to be the game-winner.
“We’ve been hitting the ball well with two outs,” Peters said. “We are just trying to put the ball in play.”
“He had a really good curveball and his fastball had a little two-seam run to it, so whenever I did get a fastball, it was a block away,” added Peters about West-Guillen. “But my second at-bat he tried to come at me curveball low and left it over the middle of the plate.”
Kaplan, who breezed through the first five innings before allowing a run in the sixth, had problems in the seventh. He allowed two hits, a walk and hit a batter before Whittemore went to the bullpen and Ty Fox. The right-hander walked the first two batters he faced before striking out the side.
Fox worked from behind on all five batters he faced, but made some key pitches, including a 2-2 circle change to strike out Kody Garvin for the second out. Fox admitted getting up and down in the bullpen affected him.
“I have confidence in my stuff, he said. “It threw me off a little, warming up and then not going in and then warming up again.”
The two-out hitting continued in the second game.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, the Wildcats loaded the bases on a walk to Bell, a fielder’s choice by Peters and a two-out single by Modler. Abe Yagi, making a rare start in the outfield, delivered a clutch two-run single to right-centerfield to give WNC a 4-3 lead.
The lead proved to be short-lived, as Joey Rossi doubled off WNC reliever Kyle Thompson to tie the game at 4. The run was charged to WNC starter Jordan Ragan.
From that point on, the relievers dominated the action. Cody Barkdull, who came on in the bottom of the fifth, struck out seven in 4.1 innings. Thompson threw 3.2 innings of one-hit relief.
“Barkdull is their best guy,” Whittemore said. “He’d struck out 12 in five innings coming into the game.
“Kyle came up clutch. He deserved the win, holding them scoreless in the eighth, ninth and 10th.”
The Wildcats, who managed just two baserunners against Barkdull over 4.1 innings, won it in the 10th with darkness fast approaching. In fact, the 10th was going to be the final inning.
WNC loaded the bases with no outs on a walk to Modler, a single to right by Lewis and a hit batter. Cornell dropped a bunt to the right of the plate and Modler stormed home with the game-winning run.
“I expected it (bunt sign) after he fell behind,” Cornwell said. “We had to get one to win the game and I was able to get the ball down.
“I’ve never walked off with a bunt before, and I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a game where I’ve walked off with a bunt either.”