WNC splits with CSN
The Western Nevada College baseball team now officially has put itself in a pennant race.
WNC settled for a split of a doubleader against College of Southern Nevada at John L. Harvey Field, winning the opener 2-0 before losing the nightcap 3-2. But with the split, the Wildcats ended up winning three out of four in the weekend series and six of eight in the season series against the Coyotes.
With Salt Lake City Community College and College of Southern Idaho splitting their four-game weekend series,the Wildcats now find themselves three games behind Salt Lake for the Scenic West Athletic Conference lead.
Salt Lake is 19-5 and followed by WNC (22-15, 16-8), CSN (15-9) and CSI (13-11). And with home series coming up against CSI and Salt Lake, the Wildcats have put themselves in a postion to make a run at the SWAC regular season title.
“The boys did all right,” WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said. “We control our own destiny. That’s a great feeling. That means we’ve played well enough the first 24 to have a chance.”
Like it has really since the inception of the three-year program, WNC has rode its starting pitching into the race for the crown. Behind its starting pitching the Wildcats had won 11 straight before the streak was finally snapped in Saturday’s nightcap.
At one point, Wildcat pitching had held CSN scoreless for 21 straight innings. Kyle Starratt, Josh Moody, Kyle Farrell and Jordan Blanchard all gave WNC excellent starting efforts this weekend.
“Our starting pitching’s giving us a chance to get into the pennant race and it can’t be any other way,” Whittemore said.
Farrell came within an eyelash of pitching a complete game in the opener, striking out nine and walking three while allowing three hits over 6.2 innings. Egan Smith was just as good, holding WNC hitless until the fourth inning.
In the fourth, Smith walked Pena and then after he fell behind Brian Barnett, CSN decided to intentionally walk Barnett. Chuck Howard made the Coyotes pay as he picked up WNC’s first hit, a two-run double for the game’s only scoring.
Howard said he wasn’t thinking in terms of making CSN pay, but was just trying to have a solid at bat and received a pitch to hit when he got ahead in the count.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit,” he said. “I was just looking for a fastball, something hard to hit.”
And Howard was behind the plate for Farrell’s masterful performance. “He had good command of all of his pitches and hit his spots,” Howard said.
There was a little drama in the seventh when Robbie Garvey reached on an infield single after there were two outs. Farrell then faced powerful-hitting Devin Shepherd, who represented the tying run.
After walking Shepherd and having thrown 112 pitches, Whittemore went to Andrew Reid, who needed just two pitches to retire Jeff Gonzales on a groundout to end the game. “I really wanted to finish it but coach knew what he was doing,” Farrell said.
“He’s a good hitter,” said Farrell about Shepherd. “It’s just tough that I walked him but that happens. Coach made a good move by puting Reid in.”
If not for Garvey’s infield single, Farrell would have likely had a complete game. “It waas frustrating but that’s the way baseball goes,” Farrell said. “It’s just how the game is. It’s tough when it happens then but it’s not a big deal.”
WNC only had three hits as Lance Ray doubled and Travis Feiner singled to account for the other hits.
In the nightcap, the Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the first after Ray singled and went to third on Pena’s single on a hit and run. Braeden Schlehuber threw out Pena trying to steal second, but Ray came home on the throw.
WNC had a chance to take a 2-0 lead in the second when Brett Moravec was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a wild pitch and went to third on Feiner’s flyball with one out. But CSN apparently had WNC’s sign and pitched out on Kevin Schlange’s suicide squeeze bunt attempt, hanging Moravec out to dry.
Blanchard faced the minimum of batters through the first four innings. Sheperd, who was 3-for-3, singled and another runner reached on an error, but Darren Bruhns threw out both runners trying to steal second.
CSN broke through in the fifth after Brandon Trodick and Easton Gust singled to chase Blanchard. Josh Creveling allowed Shepherd’s RBI single that tied the score 1-1.
Creveling then uncorked a wild pitch to give CSN runners at second and third and no outs. Creveling settled down, but a run did score on a fielder’s choice to give CSN a 2-1 lead. With a runner at third and one out, Creveling escaped further damage when he struck out Taylor Cole and got a flyball to end the inning.
WNC had a chance to tie it in the bottom of the fifth when Marshall Kennebrew walked and pinch runner Cliff Shephard stole second. Howard’s groundball to the right side moved Shephard to third.
But Ross MacDonald got Logan Parsley on a comebacker and Ray to pop up to end the inning.
The Wildcats tied it in the sixth, but had a chance to take the lead. Kyle Gutchewsky’s infield single tied the score 2-2 and left the bases loaded still with one out. But winning pitcher Ryan Lucero got Shepard to pop up and Howard on a comebacker.
CSN took a 3-2 lead, scoring an unearned run in the seventh off tough luck loser Reid, who allowed the unearned run over the last two innings. After Gust and Shepard singled, Parsley booted a potential inning-ending double play ball at second.
Gust kept running from second and scored when Parsley’s throw to the plate hit the bat. Pena had two hits and Ray added a hit.