Conwell returns and powers Wildcats to sweep
Western Nevada College outfielder Kyle Conwell made his first appearance in three weeks count.
Conwell, who missed the last 10 games after his 49-year-old mother died of cancer in mid-April, went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs to help the Wildcats roll to an 11-2 win over last-place Colorado Northwestern Friday afternoon in the first game of a Scenic West Athletic Conference doubleheader at John L. Harvey Field.
In the second game, WNC used the hitting of Conwell and ex-Carson High star Paul Cagle plus a combined 1-hitter by Kramer Champlin and Riley Bevill to grab a 15-1 win over the Spartans in a game called after 4 1/2 innings because of the 10-run rule. The teams conclude the regular season today at noon with a doubleheader.
“It felt good to get back here and hit the ball,” said Conwell, who drove in eight runs on the day. “I didn’t know if I was going to come back to the team this weekend or not. I called coach Whittemore and asked him if he wanted me back this weekend or I would come back and go to the tournament.
“It was hard to think about going back. I missed the guys. I talked to my dad, and we decided that this is something my mom would have wanted me to do.”
The Wildcats, who have dropped six of their last eight games, had been struggling without Conwell’s bat in the middle of the order, Conwell entered the doubleheader batting .323 with 32 RBIs.
“When you lose your clean-up hitter it hurts,” WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said. “We’re a team, a family here. It (his absence) took a toll. We’re glad he’s back.”
WNC opened the scoring in the first inning when Jay Skilton and Spencer Ofelt walked. Conwell followed with the first of two run-scoring singles. Brooks Klein followed with a single and Ofelt scored when the Colorado Northwestern left fielder misplayed the ball. Conwell scored when Eric Maupin’s groundball went off the glove of shortstop Stephen Rodgers, who recovered in time to throw out Klein at third.
Colorado Northwestern made it 3-1 in the second inning when Tyler Matrisciano doubled to left-centerfield against lefty Jordan Lewis and scored on a single by David Stevenson.
The Wildcats made it 5-1 in the second when Kevin Taylor walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a double to the right-centerfield gap by Skilton, who went 3-for-4. Ofelt followed with a run-scoring triple. Conwell flied to center to end the inning.
The Spartans scored again in the fourth when Matrisciano tripled and scored on Ryan Kerbel’s infield out to make it 5-2. CNCC only got one runner in scoring position the rest of the game. Lewis worked the first six and fanned nine before giving way to Kyle DiMartino, who worked a 1-2-3 seventh to end the game.
“I’m happy about it,” Lewis said after his six-inning effort. “I haven’t thrown as well as I would have liked, but I feel like I’m starting to come back around. I was locating my fastball today. I felt that was my best pitch. I started to get the feeling I could blow the fastball by them. I served him (Tyler Matrisciano, who had a double and triple) too many up there.”
“He ended up getting a bunch of strikeouts today,” Whittemore said of Lewis. “It’s important for him to be ready to go (next week).”
In the second game, Colorado Northwestern grabbed a quick 1-0 lead when Roman Chavez hammered the second pitch he saw from Champlin over the left-centerfield fence for a homer. It was all WNC after that.
Champlin didn’t allow another hit over the next three innings and Bevill pitched a hitless fifth.
WNC regained the lead in the bottom of the first, scoring three times on a run-scoring double by Conwell, an error and a run-scoring single by Jon Sigado.
Cagle led off the second with the first of his three hits. Taylor followed with a ground-rule double putting runners at second and third. Skilton drove in Cagle with a single to make it 4-1, and Ofelt made it 6-1 with a two-run triple. Ofelt scored on Conwell’s infield out for a 7-1 lead.
WNC exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the fourth highlighted by two homers by Conwell, who finished with six RBIs in the game. Cagle also had an RBI in the explosion.