WNC splits season-opening series
Nevada Appeal Staff Report
LAS VEGAS ” D.J. Whittemore said he feels a lot better about his Western Nevada College team after the first week of the season.
The Wildcats split their Sunday double-header and the series with a 3-2 win and 9-8 loss Sunday against South Mountain at Sierra Vista High School.
“I feel better than when we came down here,” Whittemore said. “(Cory) Raymond is a legitimate college catcher. He did a tremendous job with a young pitching staff. We only returned two pitchers from last year. We put a premium on that position. We think it’s the toughest defensive position. If pitching is 90 percent, a quarter of that is the catcher.
“The other thing that impressed me was the job our bullpen did. We put them in tight spots. I know we have to get better. We dodn’t want to be a .500 team. A lot of work has to be done.”
Whittemore said the team will spend a few days practicing in Las Vegas before traveling to Southern California for a three-game series against Riverside Community College.
In the opener, the Wildcats took a 1-0 lead when Travis Feiner singled and came around to score on an error.
South Mountain poushed across two runs, one earned, in the fourth off WNC starter Rusty Devitt for a 2-1 lead.
The Wildcats tied the game at 2 in the sixth when Lance Ray hit a ball between the second baseman and centerfielder that the shortstop misplayed. Ray hustled into second and was credited with a double. Brian Barnett singled Ray to third. Feiner hit into a double play, scoring Ray.
Relievers Jeremy Gendlek, Jeff Barto and Jake Waardenburg held South Mountain scoreless the rest of the way.
Waardenburg was rewarded with the win when two errors and a single loaded the bases with two outs. Jay Skilton walked on a 3-2 pitch to force home the winning run.
“It was close,” Whittemore said. “It was down the middle and one ball below the knee. The catcher dropped the pitch (which helped).”
Ray, Barnett, Brett Moravec, Mike Skiles and Raymond all had one hit.
The final game was a continuation of Friday’s game, which was stopped in the bottom of the eighth because of lighting problems at UNLV with Western trailing 9-3.
It didn’t stay that way for long, as Western rallied for five runs in its final two at-bats before falling just a run short.
The Wildcats scored three in the eighth when Feiner walked and moved to second on Skilton’s single. Eric Maupin followed with a double, scoing Feiner to make it 9-5. Raymond’s infield out scored Maupin and an error allowed the third run of the inning score.
After Waardenburg, the third of three WNC pitchers worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the ninth, WNC’s bats went to work again.
Barnett doubled and scored on an error. After a strikeout. Maupin drove the ball to deep left to make it 9-8. The next two WNC hitters were retired on a groundball and strikeout to end the contest.