Wildcats make it a double vs UC Santa Cruz
It had to be an encouraging omen for the Western Nevada Community College baseball team heading into its Scenic West Athletic Conference opening series this weekend.
WNCC used the formula of strong pitching and solid defense on Sunday at John L. Harvey Field to sweep a doubleheader from UC Santa Cruz, winning the opener, 2-1, and the nightcap, 9-0. It was the same formula that was so successful for the Wildcats last season.
It’s the same formula the Wildcats hope to use on Friday and Saturday when it opens Scenic West play in a four-game series at Community College of Southern Nevada in Henderson.
The Wildcats’ goal has always been to hold teams to two runs or less. But in its first 12 games (counting a suspended game with New Mexico Community College that was tied 5-5 after eight innings) WNCC had held opponents to two runs or less only three times. That total was run to five out of 14 on Sunday.
WNCC also made just one error in the two games on Sunday, which led to Santa Cruz’s only unearned run.
The Wildcats did struggle at the plate in the opener, which was understandable, WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore said. WNCC went from facing its own top four pitchers on Friday and Saturday – harder throwers Justin Garcia, Cole Rohrbough, Stephen Sauer and Josh Brink – to facing Santa Cruz’s offspeed pitchers on Sunday.
“I have mixed emotions,” said Whittemore about his team’s effort on Sunday. “Obviously we played much better the second game.
“The first game we came out flat. I was very happy with the how the infield played defensively and the pitchers did a good job of throwing strikes in the second game.”
While Santa Cruz is still just a club team, it came into Sunday with more wins that WNCC, which came in at 4-7 and improved to 6-7. Santa Cruz was also coming off a win over NAIA Simpson University of Redding, Calif., on Saturday.
“They’ve won more games than we have so far this year, I know that,” Whittemore said.
WNCC pitching held Santa Cruz to a total of five hits in the two games. Chris Rickey, Josh Creveling, Wes Osmer and Dan Grubbs combined to retire 17 straight at one point in the second game, which was seven innings.
Rickey struck out four in his three innings and wouldn’t have allowed a runner if he wasn’t late covering first on a groundball to first baseman Andrew Reid that ended up as an infield single.
“I was spectating,” Rickey said. “I know better than that. I guess it was kind of lazy on my part.”
“I thought we did a great job,” said Rickey about the pitching staff, which didn’t walk a batter in the nightcap. “Everybody on the staff threw strikes and we played great defense. The defense was pretty much flawless.”
Creveling retired all six batters he faced and Osmer retired all three batters he faced. Grubbs allowed a single in the seventh, but the runner was erased when catcher Ryan Simpson picked him off at first.
WNCC took a 2-0 lead in the first on Thomas Miller’s RBI-single and an error that allowed another run to score on the play. In the second, Kevin Schlange singled and scored on Kyle Bondurant’s double to make it 3-0.
WNCC took a 6-0 lead in the fourth after Chad Walling singled. Schlange followed with an RBI-double and Bondurant had an RBI-sacrifice fly. Schlange also scored on Bondurant’s sacrifice fly when the throw to home got away.
In the fifth, Schlange singled and scored on Bondurant’s RBI-single. In the sixth, Reid’s two-run single finished the scoring.
Miller and Reid each had two hits, Bondurant had two hits and three RBI, Simpson doubled and Chuck Howard and Cliff Shepard added a hit.
Schlange had three hits to continue his recent hot hitting streak. “I’m coming around,” Schlange said. “I’m seeing the ball, hitting the ball.”
“It was definitely an eye opener,” Schlange also said about first playing at the collegiate level. “But I’m settling in and feeling more comfortable every day and the guys are helping me a lot.”
In the opener, Jake Bottari struck out three over three scoreless innings, T.J. Wohlever struck out three over three scoreless innings and Jeremy Joustra allowed an unearned run over the last three innings.
in the second, Brad Carlsen singled, stole second and third and scored on Taylor Mieras’ sacrifice fly. In the fourth, Mieras doubled, Schlange singled and Bondurant’s RBI-single scored Mieras to make it 2-0.
Mieras also tripled as he had three hits. Schlange also doubled, giving him two hits, Bondurant had two hits and Pat Grennan added a hit.
Whittemore tried to keep this weekend in perspective. “They’ve got a lot of great pitching waiting for us,” Whittemore said.
“It seems like it’s the biggest series of the year. But I don’t want to get into a mindset that it’s more important than any other series. But it feels that way. Playing CCSN usually brings out the best in our guys.”