Wildcats go for the crown
While the Western Nevada Community College baseball team has only played for two years, there’s no question the Wildcats are entering the biggest series in the school’s short history.
The Scenic West Athletic Conference postseason title will be on the line beginning today when the Wildcats travel to Henderson to face Community College of Southern Nevada. The winner of the best two of three series will advance to next week’s district championship in Arizona for the right to play in the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association World Series.
Games will be played today, Friday and if necessary, Saturday. All games will begin at 6 p.m. Fans can listen to the games over the internet by going to http://www.ccsn.edu. Go to quick links and click on athletics and then click on click here where it says listen live.
The series has already turned into spirited rivalry. Not counting the three games CCSN forfeited to WNCC last year, the Coyotes hold an 8-5 edge, including 5-3 this year. The Wildcats were on one out away from taking three of four from CCSN at John L. Harvey Field this year before Ty Manumaleuna hit a two-run home run to give the Coyotes a 4-3 win. “We feel like there’s some unfinished business,” WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore said.
But Whittemore knows his team is in for a daunting challenge. “We’re going to have to elevate our game to match them,” he said.
As if CCSN won’t be challenging enough, WNCC will also have to deal with the heat. Temperatures are expected to be near 100 in Southern Nevada and even though the games will begin at 6 p.m., it should still be hot enough.
The series features the conference’s top two pitchers, WNCC’s Cole Rohrbough and CCSN’s Tyler Lavign. They were the only two players in the conference nominated for All-American status.
Lavign has been lights out as a reliever with a 0.41 earned run average. Overall this year, Rohrbough has a 1.48 E.R.A.
It figures there’s no way WNCC will be able to match what it did last week – 27 scoreless innings. Jake Bottari went nine innings in a complete game two-hit shutout in a 3-0 win over Colorado Northwestern Community College, Rohrbough pitched 8.2 scoreless innings in a 5-0 win over College of Southern Idaho and Justin Garcia didn’t allow a hit over six innings in a 6-0 win over Eastern Utah. Garcia was pulled to give the bullpen some work.
But CCSN obviously figures to be a tougher challenge. “CCSN’s the top hitting team in the conference,” Whittemore said.
But Whittemore said the strategy against the Coyotes will be the same. First pitch strikes, keep the ball down and change locations and speeds. “The same things we’ve been telling our pitchers since August 10,” Whittemore said.
Rohrbough will start today and Garcia will start Friday. Everyone else will be available including Stephen Sauer. If he’s not used, Sauer would start on Saturday.
“Whoever the best guy who hasn’t pitched is,” said Whittemore about who would start on Saturday. That could be Bottari as well. “He’d be a candidate for sure.”
The bats are also coming around as WNCC had 30 hits, 10 in each game, in three games last week. But the Wildcats are continuing to leave a lot of runners and will likely need better clutch hitting to have a chance against CCSN.
“We’ve left over 400 guys on base this year,” Whittemore said. “The thing to remember is we’ve faced good pitching. The offense has done a good job.”
So the stage is set. “Obviously CCSN is a great rivalry for us,” Whittemore said. “This is our first opportunity to play for a Region XVIII championship.
“This is definitely a goal we set at the beginning of the year. We’ve got one team and three games standingin front of us.”