WNCC baseball gains split against Dixie State | NevadaAppeal.com
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WNCC baseball gains split against Dixie State

MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal WNCC Wildcat #14 Tom Miller tries to tag out #4 Braden Wells of St. George, Utah's, Dixie State College on Friday.
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Following its 5-0 loss to Dixie State College of Utah to open Friday’s doubleheader at Ron McNutt Field, the biggest question was how the Western Nevada Community College Wildcats would respond.

Suffice it to say that after the Wildcats scored a team-record 14 runs in the nightcap, the Rebels were left wishing they were in Dixie – in St. George, Utah, that is.

After surrendering a first-inning home run to Albert Jones (who also hit one in game one) to fall behind 2-0, WNCC pitcher Cole Rohrbough settled down to pitch a solid four innings and got a lot of help from the Wildcats’ offense, six errors from the Rebels and some timely relief pitching from Daniel Grubbs, as WNCC went on to the 14-4 win.

“I didn’t have my stuff today,” said the 6-foot-3 Rohrbough (4-4), a freshman from Medford, Ore., who was removed from the game after the fourth because of arm troubles. “My velocity was down. I had a really rough week as far as the arm stuff goes. I had to throw strikes and keep it down. It was my worst stuff of the season by far. My arm didn’t feel good. Some days I’m in pain. Today my arm felt dead. I knew it in the bullpen.”

Dead arm or not, WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore felt confident in not only starting Rohrbough, but leaving him in the game for as long as he did.

“I went out to visit him (on the mound) in the second inning and told him he had better stuff on his worst day than I’ve ever had on my best day,” Whittemore said. “I’m proud of the way our guys responded. That’s as bad as we’ve been beaten in the first game. We played well in the second game and kept our heads level.”

And a six-run first inning didn’t hurt, either.

Left fielder Pat Grennan brought home Kyle Bondurant with a double to right and Tyson Jaquez followed with an RBI-single to make it 2-2.

Two batters later center fielder Aaron Henry – a 2004 Carson High School graduate – hit a double down the left-field line to put the Wildcats up 4-2. Shortstop Jerahmie Libke hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Tom Miller and Henry scored on a throwing error to give WNCC all the runs it would need at 6-2.

“We came out real fired up after losing the first one,” said Henry, who went 3-for-3, with three RBI and three runs scored. “Their (the Rebels’) pitcher was just dealing the first game. We were swinging the sticks the second game. Cole did a good job on the mound. Cole was just nasty. From center field I could see all of it. He had a fastball that tails a lot. His breaking stuff was great. We always know we’ll be in the game when he’s in there.”

Rohrbough gave up three runs on four hits and struck out three.

After the Rebels scored a run in the top of the second, a Henry RBI-single in the bottom of the inning and an RBI-single in the fourth by pinch hitter Aaron Greer made it 8-3.

The Rebels had a shot to come back in the sixth, loading the bases with one out. Daniel Grubbs relieved Stephen Sauer (who took over for Rohrbough beginning in the fifth) and Dixie State managed only one run, when Sam Schanzle scored on an error to make it 8-4.

Sauer pitched 1 1/3 innings, giving up one run and one hit, while walking two, hitting one batter and striking out two. Grubbs saw only two batters, but was able to put out the fire before it started.

“When Grubbs comes in, he’s our get out of jail free card,” Rohrbough said.

WNCC put the game away with a six-run sixth, sending 10 batters to the plate. Reliever James Dever walked Taylor Meiras with the bases loaded before allowing a two-run double to Libke (who finished the game 2-for-3, with 3 RBI) to make it 11-4.

Pinch hitter Chad Walling of Douglas High and Grennan (2-for-5, 2 RBI) each had an RBI-single before Humberto Rodarte’s game-inning hit ended the game in the sixth.

Rebels’ starter Tim McMahon was chased out of the game in the first inning after allowing two runs, three hits and walking two without recording an out. He was replaced by Nick Spilker, who pitched 5-plus innings, giving up five runs, five hits and walking five.

The Rebels had a strong outing from the mound in the first game, when Chad Povich pitched a two-hit, complete-game shutout.

Justin Garcia took the loss for the Wildcats, pitching 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and three hits, while walking two and striking out eight. Jake Bottari pitched two innings in relief, allowing two runs and two hits, while striking out two.

With the split the Wildcats (25-13 overall, 19-7 in conference) remain a half-game behind the Rebels (25-7, 19-6) in the race for first place in the Scenic West Athletic Conference. Southern Idaho came into the weekend at 17-5 in conference. The team that finishes in first place at the end of the regular season will host the SWAC Tournament.

“We’re going to try to do the same thing we’ve done all year: play hard, play smart and play together,” Whittemore said of today’s doubleheader, which has been moved ahead to 11 a.m. today at Ron McNutt Field. “That’s our game plan every game. We’re going to see a real good pitcher in Cole Adams, who is tops in the league in ERA (1.02) and doesn’t allow walks. He’s tough to hit.”

And the Wildcats will find out if they can respond yet again, or just be left whistling Dixie.