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Wildcats baseball sweeps Spartans

Wildcats baseball sweeps Spartans

By Charles Whisnand

Appeal Sports Editor

Opening day at home after a long road swing to begin the season couldn’t have gone much better for the Western Nevada College baseball team. And it was just what the Wildcats needed.

WNC swept Colorado Northwestern Community College on Friday at John L. Harvey Field, winning the opener 5-3 and the nightcap 10-0 in a scheduled nine-inning game that was called in the bottom of the sixth inning due to the mercy rule.

Kyle Starratt picked up the win in the opener and Josh Creveling needed just 15 pitches in retiring all four batters he faced to pick up the save. Josh Moody pitched a complete game in the nightcap, finishing with a three-hit shutout while striking out five, walking one and hitting a batter. Davis Banks also went 5-for-5 on the day to lead a solid effort at the plate against the Spartans.

The two teams will finish up their four-game series with a doubleheader beginning at noon today. And because Friday went so well, WNC still has all of its pitching staff available, including Creveling, to go along with another one of the Wildcats’ top starters in Kyle Farrell.

There’s also no denying that while nothing can be taken for granted against CNCC (5-17 overall, 2-12 in the Scenic West Athletic Conference), the Wildcats (13-14, 7-7) can’t afford to stumble, either. Not with the way Salt Lake Community College is playing.

The SWAC’s top team improved to 12-1 heading into Friday’s nightcap of a doubleheader with College of Southern Nevada after hammering the Coyotes 15-7 in the opener.

WNC also has one of the SWAC’s top relief pitchers available in Jose Barajas, who returned last week against Salt Lake after serving an academic-related suspension. And while the Wildcats won’t have Andrew Reid available offensively, the left-handed pitcher will be available to come out of the bullpen as well.

Reid has sustained a possible break in his right hand. “We’re still hoping that he’s going to return, but it hasn’t gotten any better this week,” WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said. “We’re still going to use him on the mound. We’ve got a lot of arms left in the bullpen.”

In the opener, the Wildcats were facing Cory Downham, a pitcher who had beaten College of Southern Idaho 1-0 and lost to CSN 2-0. But WNC struck for two runs in the first after Brian Barnett homered and Lance Ray doubled. Logan Parsley followed with an RBI single to make it 2-0.

The Wildcats took a 4-0 lead in the second on Jerome Pena’s RBI triple and Chuck Howard’s RBI single. CNCC scored an unearned run in the third on a dropped fly ball to make it 4-1.

Banks doubled and scored on an error in the bottom of the fourth to make it 5-1.

In the sixth with the bases loaded, Anthony Bendever hit a grounder down the third base line that bounced off the bag and continued down the line for a two-run double. That chased Starratt and Creveling came on to strike out cleanup hitter Austin Padilla, who represented the go-ahead run, to end the inning.

Creveling struck out the first two batters he faced on his way to retiring the side in order in the seventh to pick up the save.

“Everybody’s coming out excited for the first home series,” Creveling said. “I’m ready to roll. Coming out and seeing our stands and the stadium gets the adrenaline going. I was definitely pumped up for it.”

Starratt allowed two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings while striking out four.

“He kept them off balance,” Creveling said about Starratt. “He always comes out and does his job every time he pitches. It makes it good for the bullpen.”

Banks went 3-for-3 with a double, Parsley had two hits and Travis Feiner added a hit.

In the nightcap, WNC struck for four runs in the second. Banks hit an RBI single and Howard had a two-run triple during the rally. The Wildcats made it 7-0 in the third on Banks’ two-run double and Kevin Schlange’s RBI single.

In the fourth, after Marshall Kinnebrew walked, Mike Long hit a two-run home run to make it 9-0. WNC ended it in the sixth after Victor Nunez walked and Brett Moravec was hit by a pitch. Logan Odom followed with an RBI single to score Nunez with the game-ending run.

Feiner had two hits, including a triple, Howard also had a double to go along with his triple and Pena added a hit.

“I felt like I didn’t have my best stuff,” Moody said. “But it’s easy to go out there when you have a big lead. I was throwing all my pitches for strikes and that makes it easy to get outs.”