WNC takes two in rare tripleheader
After a season-opening 15-game road trip, the Western Nevada College Wildcats finally returned home to the friendly confines of John L. Harvey Field.
Thanks to a pair of strong pitching performances by Kramer Champlin and Jeremy Gendlek plus timely hitting by Jonathan Sigado, Kyle Conwell, Kevin Taylor and Brooks Klein, the Wildcats took two of three from College of Eastern Utah Friday afternoon on the opening weekend of Scenic West Athletic Conference play.
Because of uncertain weather expected today, the teams played a rare tripleheader. The 19 innings of baseball took around six hours. The Wildcats won the opener 13-0 , dropped the middle game 6-3 and took the nightcap 8-1. WNC is 62-14 on its home turf in its 5 year history.
“It was a long day,” said WNC coach D.J. Whittemore. “We played hard all three games. We pitched well; threw a lot of strikes. I don’t feel very good, though.”
Whittemore was hoping his team would sweep the Golden Eagles, who got five strong innings of three-hit baseball from Josh Swenson in the middle game.
Playing two games is tough enough, but three can really drain you both mentally and physically, according to WNC’s Kevin Taylor and Gendlek.
“It’s pretty hard,” Taylor said. “You just have to grind it out. You’ve got to have good focus to get through it.”
“You have to make sure to take one game at a time,” Gendlek said.
Western Nevada came out in tremendous fashion, scoring 12 first-inning runs against Brennan Hallows and Brett Barrett. The Wildcats pounded out nine hits and sent 17 batters to the plate.
An error, single by Klein and a walk to Taylor loaded the bases with no outs. Hallows retired Conwell, but walked Spencer Ofelt to force across a run. Sigado followed with a double to score Andrew Garcia and Klein, and sending Taylor to third. Former Galena star Eric Maupin followed with a two-run single to make it a 5-0. Former Carson star Paul Cagle singled to left for a 6-0 lead.
After Pat McMeel walked, Barrett came in for Eastern Utah. He was greeted with back-to-back run-scoring singles by Garcia and Klein to make it 8-0. Taylor’s sacrifice plated another run, and a run-scoring error plus singles by Ofelt and Maupin completed the barrage.
That was plenty for pitching ace Champlin, who mowed down the Golden Eagles on one hit and faced just 13 batters, one over the minimum in his four-inning stint. The 6-foot-5 right-hander fanned five. Dusty Fackrell’s two-out single in the first was the only thing between Champlin and a no-hitter. Riley Bevill pitched the final inning. The game was stopped after five on the 10-run mercy rule.
“They (my teammates) were hitting the ball well,” Champlin said. “They were doing their jobs. Twelve in the first, you can’t ask for much better than that.
“I felt good. Last week we had some time off so I was ready to go. The defense played well behind me.”
Western Nevada added a run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Trevor Goff.
In Game 2, Eastern Utah scored a run in the first and two more in the third off starter Jake Waardenburg, who took the loss.
Western Nevada tied the game at 3 in the bottom of the third against Swenson.
Garcia reached on a throwing error by second baseman Jace Harris, moved to second on Goff’s single and scored on back-to-back walks to Klein and Taylor. Conwell singled home Klein to tie the game. The Wildcats lost a chance to score even more when Maupin’s hard groundball to shortstop was turned into an inning-ending double play.
Eastern Utah went ahead 4-3 in the fourth thanks to a one-out error by Sigado which scored Dakotah Phillips, who had singled, stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Brock Carlson.
Mitch Cowden’s two-out double off Waardenburg scored two insurance runs and made it 6-3.
“Jake might have gotten a few pitches up,” Whittemore said. “We hit a lot of balls right at people in that game.”
Nate Hardman and Cameron Schmidt gave Eastern Utah 1.2 innings of outstanding relief after Swenson departed with no outs and one on in the sixth.
In the third game, WNC got two-run homers from Klein in the third and Taylor in the fifth to take a 4-0 lead. The Wildcats added four more in the sixth, two on a double by Conwell, one on a double by Ofelt and one on a double by Sigado.
“Coach (Joe) Hooft told me to be loose and not swing so hard,” Taylor said. “I put a good swing on it.”
The four runs were more than enough for Gendlek, who threw just 59 pitches in the first six innings and allowed just four hits in that span. In the seventh, he allowed a solo homer to Garrett Argyle and then allowed Eastern Utah to load the bases before departing in favor of Dyllon Nuernberg, who got the final out of the game.
Gendlek didn’t seem too bothered by the fact that he missed his first complete game by just one out.
“It happens to everyone,” he said. “We have guys in the bullpen that can come in and get outs. I trust them to close anytime.
“I was just throwing fastballs and trying to stay in the zone (early). After a couple of times around the order, my slider was working for an out pitch.”
The teams are expected to return for the fourth game at noon today, weather permitting.