Wildcats one win away from regional title
SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. – Western Nevada Community College is one win away from reaching next week’s National Collegiate Association Junior College World Series in Colorado.
The Wildcats opened the tournament with a 5-4 come-from-behind win over Central Arizona, and followed that up with an 11-8 victory against Western Nebraska at the Western Regional event.
WNCC will play tonight at 6 against Central Arizona for the championship. The Wildcats, who only need to win one of two games to wrap up the title, have yet to name a starter for tonight’s game, but coach D.J. Whittemore said it will be between Jake Bottari, Josh Creveling and Josh Brink.
In the opener, the Wildcats scored twice in the eighth to wipe out a 4-3 deficit and grab a 5-4 lead. Stephen Sauer pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the win for reliever Dan Grubbs, who relieved WNCC ace Cole Rohrbough in the seventh.
Kyle Bondurant singled in the eighth and Cliff Shepard followed with a triple, tying the game at 3. Thomas Miller followed with a sacrifice fly to center, driving in the go-ahead run.
Central Arizona led 2-0 after two innings on a lead-off walk in the first that came around to score and a dropped fly ball. Bondurant cut the deficit to 2-1 with a solo homer in the top of the third, but Central Arizona bounced back with a single run for a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the inning.
Andrew Reid’s run-scoring single cut the lead to 3-2. Rohrbough surrendered a solo homer to make it 4-2, but the Wildcats climbed to within a run at 4-3 on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Mieras. That set the stage for WNCC’s game-winning rally.
Reid led the offense, going 3-for-5. Bondurant went 2-for-5, while Brad Carlsen, Pat Grennan and Shepard added a hit each.
“Cole pitched well,” Whittemore said. “They are a very good hitting team.”
Western Nevada’s bats came alive in the second game. The Wildcats trailed 2-1 in the top of the second, but scored nine runs in their next three at-bats to build a 10-2 lead.
Carlsen’s two-run double in the third gave Western Nevada a 3-2 lead. After Bondurant singled, Shepard followed with a homer for a 5-2 advantage.
In the fifth, the Wildcats broke it open. Grennan doubled home a run, Andrew Ferguson contributed a run-scoring single and ex-Carson star Logan Parsley blasted a two-run homer.
Western Nevada was three outs away from winning the game on the eight-run mercy rule, but Justin Garcia, who allowed only three hits, started having control problems. He walked two batters, hit another and yielded a double to make it 11-3.
Whittemore went to Jeremy Joustra, who gave up a double , as Western Nebraska cut the lead to 11-6. Joustra gave up two more in the eighth before Grubbs came on to record the save.
“Garcia was dealing,” Whittemore said. “He was good. It hurt a lot (to give up those runs). It leaves our bullpen slightly understaffed for today.”
Grubbs probably will be unavailable, but Sauer should be OK to close.
“It was great to see the offense do so well,” Whittemore said. “We definitely hot a lot of balls hard. Shepard’s homer was a big left. It opened the floodgates.”
Reid and Bondurant led the offense with three hits each, and Carlsen and Grennan added two hits apiece.