Wildcats start league season with doubleheader sweep
The one constant in Western Nevada College’s 9-9 start has been its pitching.
“Out of our nine losses, seven have been by two runs or less,” WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said. “The pitching and defense has kept us in games.”
Western Nevada’s pitching was never better Friday afternoon, as the Wildcats rode the strong performances of Tim Peterson and Brandon Jackson to a doubleheader sweep, 3-1 and 12-1, of Colorado Northwestern at John L. Harvey Field. The second game was stopped after 4 1/2 innings because of the 10-run run.
Western (9-9, 2-0) continues the four-game series today with a doubleheader starting at noon.
Peterson, who improved to 2-0, struck out a career-best 13 and walked two while scattering six hits. The only run he allowed was in the fifth inning when he balked home a run.
“Maybe Little League,” said Peterson when asked the last time he had struck out 13 batters. “I usually get guys out instead of striking them out. I was getting ahead of the hitters. Strike one is the most important pitch. It’s important to pitch ahead. Also, it’s easier to pitch when you are ahead.”
Peterson’s teammates staked him to a 2-0 lead in the first when Chris Woolley walked and scored on Connor Eppard’s homer to right.
Eppard was in the middle of the Wildcats’ next rally. He walked to lead off the third , advanced to second when Kevin Taylor walked and scored on Beau Day’s double.
That was it for the Wildcats’ offense which managed only five hits off Colorado Northwestern right-hander Travis Moody.
Moody threw mostly curveballs even when he was behind in the count, an indication that he probably couldn’t get his fastball by WNC hitters. Whatever the case, WNC hitters never really adjusted, finding themselves taking a lot of pitches and batting behind in the count.
“It looked like we hadn’t played in two weeks,” Whittemore said. “Breaking balls are hard to hit even when you know they are coming. Give their guy credit for mixing up pitches and being in the strike zone.”
“Tim came out throwing the ball well and Patrick (McMeel, catcher) called a great game.”
Colorado Northwestern did cut the lead to 3-1, but Peterson retired five of the last seven batters he faced.
Whittemore did come out and talked to Peterson briefly with two outs in the seventh, and the right-hander responded with a strikeout to end the game.
“I just told him it was his last batter,” Whittemore said, a smile on his face.
The second game was essentially over minutes after it started, as the Wildcats erupted for six runs and five hits in the bottom of the first. They added two in the second and three more in the fourth.
The first-inning onslaught was more than enough for Jackson, who worked four innings of two-hit ball before Whittemore let Tyler Spencer finish up.
Zach Hendrix and Sean Dwyer, neither of whom played in the first game, each went 3-for-3. Dwyer drove in two runs as did Sean Potkay, who doubled twice. Brooks Klein snapped out of a 1-for-32 slump with two singles and an RBI.
“The second guy (Tyler Nelson) was a little more hitting speed,” Whittemore said. “The first guy was a little under.
“B.J. has been our most consistent pitcher. His first three starts he had a lot of tough luck; no support. It was nice to see him get a little help from the offense.”
Potkay, a transfer from the University of Oregon, doubled home WNC’s first two runs off Nelson. Hendrix followed with a run-scoring double and Dwyer followed with a run-scoring single to make it 4-0. A single by Klein, an error and a wild pitch accounted for the final two runs of the surge.
Colorado Northwestern scored its lone run in the top of the second when Taylor Thurston hit a towering homer to left-center field.
WNC scored twice in the bottom of the inning thanks to a passed ball and run-scoring single by Neil Lawhorn.
A run-scoring single by Kevin Taylor, who scored on the same play because of a three-base error in center field, a run-scoring double by Dwyer and a run-scoring single by Klein finished the scoring.
It was a nice way to start the season after a 16-game road trip.
“We got to play on our own field and sleep in our own beds and we won a couple of ballgames,” Whittemore said. “We haven’t won two in a row since the first weekend of the season.”
“I think it was important (to start with a win(s),” Peterson said. “We have to build off every game from now on.”