WNC avoids sweep with second-game win
Thanks to some clutch hitting by Zach Hendrix, Bobby Gazzola and Taylor Smart plus a solid relief outing by Tyler Spencer, Western Nevada College avoided what would have been an embarrassing sweep at home.
After losing the opener, 4-2, WNC rebounded from a 5-0 deficit in the nightcap to grab a 7-6 win over College of Southern Nevada in a Scenic West Athletic Conference battle at John L. Harvey Field Friday afternoon.
The split cost the Wildcats a game in the conference standings because Salt Lake swept College of Southern Idaho. WNC trails Salt Lake by two games with 10 games left in the regular season. Salt Lake hosts WNC on the last weekend of regular-season play.
“As long as we’re within four games going into the last weekend, I’m OK,” WNC head coach D.J. Whittemore said.
“We try not to look at the big picture,” Hendrix said. “We look at the game ahead and play every inning of every game. We play one game at a time.”
Western’s Andrew Woeck, who came into the game with a 0.99 earned run average, was roughed up for five runs in the first two innings and left after just 1 1/3 innings, putting his team in a quick hole.
“Nobody was getting down,” said Gazzola. “We always feel we have a chance to come back and win.”
And boy did the Wildcats come back.
Chris Woolley led off the third with a walk, moved to third on a single by Bobby Pappin and scored on a single by Taylor Smart. Derrick Pitts singled to load the bases. Hendrix, who was benched for the first game, drove a 1-1 pitch over the left-centerfield fence for a grandslam, tying the game at 5.
“It was a fastball down the middle,” Hendrix said. “I didn’t change my approach (because I sat out the first game). I was itching to play.”
CSN took out starter John Conqoy after the homer, and Matt Hall retired the next three hitters to end the inning.
The Wildcats dodged a bullet in the fourth. With runners on second and third, WNC’s Rayne Raven uncorked a wild pitch. However, the ball bounced right back to catcher Neil Lawhorn who tagged out Chad Whiteaker at the plate to keep the game deadlocked.
Then it was Gazzola’s time to be a hero. The former Hofstra University player, who entered the game with a .149 average, was called on to hit for Mike Umscheid with runners at first and second. He came through with a bloop single to right, scoring Pitts who was plunked by Hall.
“It felt good to pinch-hit and come through,” Gazzola said. “I was trying to be aggressive. Fortunately the ball got through.”
WNC made it 7-5 in the bottom of the sixth when Smart’s two-out single to left scored A.J. Hernandez, who was hit by a pitch.
Spencer, who had breezed through his first two innings of relief, ran into trouble immediately in the seventh when Chad Whiteaker doubled to left, his third hit of the day.
Morgan Stotts followed with a blooper to right which Smart pulled in despite almost getting run over by Pitts. Corey Welch followed with a shot to deep third. Hernandez made a nice stop. His throw one-hopped Pitts, who was able to make a clean pick for the second out. After A.J. Ford’s pinch-hit single scored a run, Chevas Numata rolled to first to end the game.
“I thought he (Spencer) was outstanding,” said Jeremy Beard, WNC’s pitching coach. “It was a nice outing for him. He showed confidence and poise.”
Smart was WNC’s only multiple hitter in the game.
The opener turned out to be a pitcher’s duel between Dylan Baker (10-0, 0.38 ERA) and CSN’s Joey Lauria. At least 20 Major League teams were in attendance to see WNC’s Baker, and he didn’t disappoint.
Baker worked the first six innings, striking out 13 and walking three. He gave up two runs, one earned. Lauria worked the first eight, allowing two runs and six hits.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the second when Hernandez doubled, moved o third on Umscheid’s sacrifice bunt and scored on a passed ball.
CSN evened the game in the fifth when Scott Hauk hit a slow roller toward third. Hernandez barehanded the ball and threw wildly to first, allowing Hauck to reach second on the play. After a walk and strikeout, Quintonn Mack delivered a game-tying single.
The Coyotes took a 2-1 lead in the sixth when the right-handed hitting Stotts hit a homer just inside the foul pole in right field.
“I left it a little up,” Baker said. “He doesn’t hit outside pitches. I felt good. I just have to stay away from 2-2 and 3-2 counts.”
“I thought he (Baker) was great.” Whittemore said. “He really performed well under the bright lights. Their hitters deserve a lot of credit. They were well prepared.”
The Wildcats tied the game at 2 in the bottom of the sixth when Pappin blooped a single to right to score Dillon Ness, who had reached on a double. Pappin went 3-for-3 in the game.
“It was a curveball low and away and I just got it through,” Pappin said.
The game, which was scheduled for even, went extra innings.
Anthony Consiglio relieved Baker and pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth. He wasn’t as fortunate in the ninth. With two outs and a runner at second, Jordan Van Hoosier hit a two-run homer to left-centerfield to make it 4-2. It was his third hit of the game.
The Wildcats loaded the bases in the last of the ninth on a fielder’s choice and singles by Hernandez and Umscheid, but Chris Woolley struck out on a high pitch to end the game.
WILDCAT WOMEN DROP TWO
EPHRAM, Utah – Western Nevada College’s softball team lost 2-1 and 7-6 to Snow College in a Scenic West Athletic Çonference doubleheader Friday afternoon.
The Wildcats failed to get a hit in the opener, but did get solid pitching efforts from Lexi Alley, Ali Lostra and Jordan Garcia, each of whom threw two innings.
“We needed to hit and unfortunately we didn’t,” WNC assistant coach Rosie Contri said. “We bounced back in the second game, though.”
The Wildcats managed 10 hits in the nightcap, but Snow College wiped out a 6-5 deficit with two runs in the bottom of the seventh to claim the win and the sweep.
Jenny Quam, Melanie Pfeiffer, Lostra, Taleas Marble and Katirina Rand all had two hits. Quam stole her 46th base of the year, which leads the SWAC. Garcia homered and drove in two runs. Pfeiffer, Lostra and Rand all had run-scoring hits.
WNC continues the four-game series today with a doubleheader at 11 a.m.