CSN eliminates Wildcats
HENDERSON – When Western Nevada baseball coach D.J. Whittemore walked away after accepting the Region XVIII runner-up trophy, he looked at it with wonder of what could have been before rejoining his team and placing it on the ground.
The scene was a far cry from one year ago when the Wildcats won the region title on their home field and passed the trophy around to every player and coach on the roster. It’s likely that the trophy, which is now prominently displayed at the school, has never touched the ground.
But this year it wasn’t the same story.
The Wildcats fell 8-2 to in-state rival and top-seeded Southern Nevada in the regional title game thanks to a shaky start which they were unable to overcome.
“This is a group that really fought and the truth of the matter is that we ran up against one of the best teams that’s ever been assembled in junior college,” Whittemore said. “I don’t feel like there’s anything to hang our hats about.”
WNC put nine hits on the board, but never more than two hits in any inning. It grounded into three double plays and squandered its only real opportunity when it had the bases loaded in the seventh with just one out.
The Wildcats scored one unearned run in the inning and the final two batters struck out to end the threat.
Coyote starting pitcher Chasen Shreve was the key for the game for CSN. The sophomore threw 6.1 innings, struck out four and walked just one batter. He allowed eight hits, but kept the ball low in the zone to induce two of the three double plays.
“You kept looking up to the scoreboard and obviously the runs are what counts and they were leading by a bunch the whole game, but you look at the hit column and we’re trailing by one, we’re trailing by two, we’re tied,” said Whittemore, whose team was out-hit 12-9. “The difference in the game was his ability to get the double-play ball and No. 2, they scored four of their eight runs by walks or hit by pitch. We just didn’t throw enough strikes.”
WNC starting pitcher Jordan Lewis, on the other hand, struggled to get the ball past the Coyotes’ fierce hitters. The sophomore didn’t get out of the first inning as he gave up five runs, four of them earned, on three hits and two walks. He got just one batter out in the inning.
The Wildcats used five more pitchers in the game to hold the Coyotes to three more runs on nine hits.
“They had a good game plan, but fortunately we were able to scratch a five in the first,” CSN coach Tim Chambers said. “It looked like they were going to pitch everybody and try and get ahead and throw a bunch of breaking balls.”
Jay Skilton, who hit into two double plays, felt the excitement last year when the Wildcats won the region title and went on to win the district and make a JUCO World Series appearance. Even with the last game of his Wildcat career going down as a loss, Skilton walked away with a lot of memories.
“It hurts big time right now, but I’m trying to think of the positive stuff,” Skilton said. “It’s been a great season with everybody. We’ve had some great wins. You can’t really ask for too much more.”