Hendrix swings hot bat in WNC sweep
Zach Hendrix nearly made Western Nevada College baseball history on Saturday and wasn’t even aware of nearly hitting for the cycle until afterward.
Hendrix stroked a triple, two doubles and a single, finishing only a homer shy of becoming WNC’s first player to accomplish the feat in an 11-0 five-inning victory over College of Eastern Utah at John L. Harvey Field in the first game of the doubleheader.
WNC rallied to win the second game, completing the four-game sweep with a 11-4 victory over the Golden Eagles. The first-place Wildcats, who are ranked 15th by Perfect Game and 20th by the National Junior College Athletic Association, improved to 8-0 in the SWAC and 19-5 overall. WNC has won 36 straight regular-season home games.
“It didn’t cross my mind, but after I hit (the last double), people were saying you just had to have home run and you would have had it,” Hendrix said. “It’s not really that big of a deal. We all just come out and try to win each game, you know?”
Hendrix’s bases-clearing double with one out in the fifth ended the conference game because of a 10-run mercy rule. The sophomore infielder from Puyallup, Wash., finished 4-4 with three extra-base hits and five RBI.
“It was a great day,” Hendrix said. “I go up there every at-bat and just try focusing on having a good approach … get a good pitch to hit before two strikes and defend my butt off with the bat when I get two strikes.”
As dominant as Hendrix was at the plate, WNC starting pitcher Dylan Baker matched him on the mound. In pitching a complete game, Baker faced only two hitters over the minimum, allowing two hits while fanning eight.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander Baker (5-0) entered the game with a 0.52 earned run average.
Western Nevada jumped on top in the second inning on a one-out double by Cole Ferguson over center fielder’s Alex Church’s head, reaching the fence on one hop. After walking AJ Hernandez and Dillon Ness to load the bases, Joe Barta escaped further damage with a groundout to first base.
WNC stranded six baserunners through three innings and Hendrix was tagged out at the plate on a groundball to the right side of the infield in the third. Hendrix doubled to right to open the inning and was sacrificed to third by Taylor Smart.
The Wildcats again threatened in the fourth inning, loading the bases on two walks and a bunt single by Mike Umscheid. A force out by Ness chased home pinch-runner Philip Belding.
Barta’s nemesis on this day, Hendrix, prevented the Golden Eagles lefty from escaping additional trouble. Hendrix belted his second extra-base hit of the day, a triple that just avoided the glove of Church. The three-bagger drove home Hernandez and Ness to make the score 4-0. A Barta wild pitch allowed Hendrix to score WNC’s fourth run of the inning.
The Wildcats didn’t ease off the accelerator against relievers CynJon Longman and Skyler Thorpe. Three of the four hitters Longman faced reached base, as Umscheid hit an RBI single to center field and Ness doubled to left to score Umscheid to put WNC ahead 8-0. Thorpe walked his first batter, Derrick Pitts, to load the bases with Hendrix coming to bat. Hendrix wasted no time, slamming a Thorpe offering down the right-field line to plate Hernandez, Ness and Pitts.
In addition to Hendrix’s four hits, Umscheid finished with two hits. Lawhorn, Ness and Hernandez each scored twice.
Western Nevada fell behind 2-0 in the second game. The Golden Eagles scratched out an unearned run in the first, then used four hits to go in front 2-0 in the second.
Wildcats starting pitcher Matt Robertson was removed by coach D.J. Whittemore with two outs and two baserunners aboard in the second inning. Reliever Anthony Consiglio extinguished the Golden Eagles rally by striking out Chance Abrath.
WNC got back a run in the second as Lawhorn doubled off the outstretched glove of Church in deep center. Hendrix, waiting to see if the ball would be caught, advanced to third on the extra-base hit and scored on Smart’s groundout to short.
In the third, Church restored Eastern Utah’s two-run lead, 3-1, with a two-out, RBI single to center field. However, for the third consecutive inning, the Golden Eagles left two runners on base.
WNC fought back in the third with Ferguson igniting a four-run rally with a standup double to the fence in left. Following a walk to Pitts with two outs, hot-hitting Hendrix singled up the middle to plate Ferguson and cut Eastern Utah’s lead to 3-2. Raven was hit by a Cody Christofferson pitch to fill the sacks for Lawhorn, who slammed his second double of the game. The two-bagger over Church’s head in center scored Pitts, Hendrix and Raven to give WNC its first lead, 5-3, which WNC made stand up.
CSN sweeps Western
LAS VEGAS – The sixth inning proved to be an unlucky one for the Western Nevada College softball team on Saturday.
In the opener, the teams were tied at 7 going into the bottom of the sixth, and Lexi Alley gave up two solo homers and CSN ended up winning 9-7. In the second game, the teams were tied at 5 entering the last of the sixth. WNC fell apart in the field, making four errors which led to eight runs and a 13-5 CSN victory.
Katirina Rand went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs in the opener, while Alia Cox, Melanie Pfeiffer and Jordan Thomas all went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Taleas Marble went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Pfeiffer went 3-for-3 and drove in a run, while Marble went 2-for-3 with two solo homers. Rand also collected two hits.
WNC hosts a four-game series against College of Southern Idaho starting on Friday at 1 p.m. Saturday’s twin-bill starts at noon.
WNC is 8-11 in league and 13-20 overall.