Wildcats looking to execute offensively
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – When the Western Nevada Community College baseball team entered the JUCO World Series, it talked about the importance of executing offensively with two strikes and two outs.
In WNCC’s 2-0 win over Delgado Community College on Saturday, the Wildcats had mixed results when trying to execute with two strikes and two outs. The Wildcats were able to pound out 10 hits, but only scored two runs so they obviously didn’t take advantage of all of their chances.
And while there’s no denying that WNCC was plagued in its lack of offensive execution at times on Saturday, it should be noted there was a combination of other factors that led to the Wildcats’ struggles. The biggest factor was having to face the slider of Delgado pitcher Brian Legnon in the twilight.
That was the major factor in why the Wildcats struck out six times in the first three innings. But for the rest of the game against Legnon, who went eight innings, WNCC struck out just twice.
And the Wildcats hit several balls hard right at people. There were also two spectacular over-the-shoulder catches by left fielder Kyle Roth, robbing Taylor Mieras and Brad Carlsen of extra bases.
WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore said he wasn’t disappointed in his team’s effort, saying sometimes you can’t be too worried about the end results.
“You’ve got to look at the process,” Whittemore said. “We were doing a pretty good job with the process. We did basically what we did all year. Overall, I thought our at bats were good.”
But Whittemore admitted that his team’s offensive execution needs to improve. “We hope to do a better job,” he said.
Whittemore noted that his leadoff hitter, Kyle Bondurant, struggled to see the ball that was noteworthy. Whittemore said Bondurant sees the ball as well as any player he’s had. “When he can’t see the ball, it’s pretty tough,” Whittemore said.
Bondurant admitted it was tough to see Legnon’s slider in the twilight when the game began. “It was pretty tough to pick up the rotation,” he said. “He had a pretty tight rotation on his slider. It was pretty tough to pick it up with the light.”
But Bondurant said nerves just as much as anything else contributed to WNCC’s struggles early in the game. “I think, for me and most of the guys, it was more before the game,” he said. “A lot of nerves were kicking us in the butt.”
It should be noted that Bondurant was able to put the ball in play with two strikes to begin the game, reaching on an error. Cliff Shepard was then able to single with two strikes. But then Legnon struck out the side.
Bondurant also had two hits, including a two-out RBI single that scored WNCC’s second run in the ninth. “We were hitting the ball hard,” Bondurant said. “We just kind of stayed with our game plan. It all seemed to work itself out.
“We’ve had a real good approach at the plate since the playoffs have gotten going. We’ve hit the ball hard one through nine.”
Andrew Reid said the twilight can’t be an excuse anymore since the Wildcats have played a game in the twilight. It obviously can’t be an excuse in today’s 1 p.m. game against New Mexico Community College.
REID’S BIG HIT
Reid drove home WNCC’s first run with a single in the eighth. When asked if 50 years from now he would tell his grandchildren it was a screaming line drive to right centerfield, Reid said, “Of course, of course.”
Actually, Reid was just able to put the ball in play, hitting a groundball to the right side past the drawn in infield with one out to score Shepard from third.
“That’s all I wanted to do,” said Reid about putting the ball in play. “It wasn’t pretty. You just can’t strike out. You don’t have to do much to get him in.”
The radar gun adjacent to the right field scoreboard was consistently clocking Cole Rohrbough’s fastball at 86-87 miles an hour with him touching 88. But Whittemore said other guns in the stadium had Rohrbough more at his normal range at 88-92. Those speeds are more believable since Rohrbough struck out 12 through 7.1 innings.
Rohrbough threw 111 pitches. Whittemore said there’s a slight chance that Rohrbough could pitch on Wednesday, but more than likely he wouldn’t be able to start again until Thursday. The perfect scenario for WNCC would have the Wildcats winning today, Tuesday and Wednesday. That would put the Wildcats into Friday’s Final Four without having to play on Thursday, giving Rohrbough an extra day of rest.
• Contact Charles Whisnand at email@example.com or 881-1214.