WNC pounds Eastern Utah
Western Nevada used another big first inning to put College of Eastern Utah away via the mercy rule in the series finale.
The fifth-ranked Wildcats, led by Jonathan Sigado and Kevin Taylor, scored 10 first-inning runs and coasted to a 10-0 Scenic West Athletic Conference victory Saturday at John L. Harvey Field.
Western Nevada will take a 3-1 SWAC record into a series against No. 1-ranked College of Southern Nevada. The teams will square off in Henderson next weekend for a four-game series.
“They did everything I asked them to do,” said WNC coach D.J. Whittemore, who went in expecting to sweep the series. “I made a huge tactical mistake in the second game. I told our pitchers to throw more strikes and throw fastballs. I told the kids that they couldn’t beat us with their bats, but they did.
“It will be a fun week just getting ready to play (Southern Nevada). They are the best team in the country. It’s fun to challenge yourself like that.”
As was the case in two of the three games on Friday, the Golden Eagles proved to be a small challenge for WNC.
In the big first inning, WNC collected seven hits and sent 13 batters to the plate. Eastern Utah went through four pitchers, two of whom never recorded an out. The only EU pitcher to escape unscathed was Jace Harris, who allowed one hit in 3.1 scoreless innings.
Sigado opened the game with a double, moved to third on a Brooks Klein single and scored on Taylor’s two-bagger.
Kyle Conwell singled to score Klein, sending Eastern starter Brett Barrett to the bench. Spencer Ofelt walked to load the bases and Eric Maupin grounded into a 4-6-3 double play which scored Taylor to make it 3-0.
After Chris Sinclair was hit by a pitch, Colby Sokol walked to load the bases. Trevor Goff walked to force in a run to make it 4-0. Sigado, batting for the second time in the inning, ripped a two-run single, scoring Sinclair and Sokol for a 6-0 lead. Klein followed with a two-run double to make it 8-0, and Taylor capped the scoring with a towering two-run homer to right against Brennan Hallows, the third EU pitcher.
It was Taylor’s second homer in as many days. He went 4-for-10 with six RBI for the series. He was hitting .226 entering the series and raised his average up to .238.
“I think it was a little wind and a little elevation,” said Taylor of his homer. “I’m just more relaxed and I put a good swing on it. We got the momentum from the last game yesterday (Friday). Hopefully we can keep the momentum going into next weekend.”
All 10 of the first-inning runs were earned, a fact that Whittemore pointed out.
“They weren’t cheap,” Whittemore said. “It’s not like they walked a lot of guys. It’s fun when you have good players that make you look smart.
“Sigado started the season 0-for-18. A lot of guys would have hung it up. He got that first knock and hasn’t stopped. Both he and Taylor are adjusting to the speed of the college game.”
According to Whittemore, Taylor was invited to the Triple-A Home Run Derby and cranked eight out of the yard in the first round, the furthest going around 430 feet.
The beneficiary of the 10-run first was WNC starter Jeff Barto, who allowed three hits and struck out four in four innings.
Barto struggled in the first as Eastern Utah loaded the bases with one out. He got Austin Smith on a pop-up behind the pitcher’s mound and Kevin Nay on a fly ball to center to end the inning. He breezed through the next three innings before Kyle DiMartino came on to pitch the fifth inning.
“Pitching out of that jam in the first, I thought that was a game changer,” Whittemore said. “He made pitches when he had to.”
“After we got that lead, I was just trying to stay ahead and limit my walks,” Barto said. “I think they got two walks, and that shouldn’t be happening.”