WNCC baseball splits with CCSN
BY CHARLES WHISNAND
Appeal Sports Editor
HENDERSON – The difference between a successful weekend and a not-so-great one in the Scenic West Athletic Conference is one razor-thin line.
The Western Nevada Community College baseball team played on even terms with Community College of Southern Nevada for 31 innings over the weekend, but came away just 1-3 in its SWAC opening series.
On Saturday behind the outstanding pitching of Josh Brink, the Wildcats won the opener 4-0 at CCSN’s Morse Stadium. But WNCC fell in the nightcap 3-2.
Those two games followed two excruciating losses for the Wildcats on Friday as they lost to the Coyotes 1-0 in nine innings and 1-0 in eight innings. The 1-3 start for WNCC (7-10) also makes this Friday’s and Saturday’s SWAC four-game series against College of Southern Idaho at John L. Harvey Field all the more important.
It was a tough day for freshman shortstop Kevin Schlange, who made four errors in the doubleheader, including three in the nightcap. Schlange’s final error came when he failed to turn a double play, allowing the winning run to score in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Despite Schlange’s struggles, WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore hasn’t lost confidence in him. It should be noted that Schlange isn’t having any fielding problems as all of his errors were throwing ones.
“I just feel like he’s an outstanding defensive player,” Whittemore said. “Shortstops who get to a lot of baseballs make errors. He’s becoming a complete player. He’s making an adjustment to the pace of the college game.”
Schlange’s final error was symbolic of Whittemore’s description of the weekend. If Schlange makes a throw a few inches higher, he sends the game into extra innings.
“Baseball’s a couple of inches and they won the series by a couple of them,” Whittemore said.
Despite its 1-3 start, Whittemore was pleased with his team’s effort.
“They played their hearts out,” he said. “They really competed all weekend. They played 31 innings of great baseball. Obviously, if we can come out with a split, then we feel like we win the series on the road.
“The bullpen did an outstanding job. Starting pitching did a great job. I’m proud of the way the bullpen pitched.”
CCSN opened the seventh with a single and a sacrifice bunt off of Jake Bottari, who pitched a scoreless sixth. Wes Osmer entered the game and intentionally walked the first batter he faced.
After uncorking a wild pitch, Osmer intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases. He then induced the groundball to Schlange.
Schlange touched second for the first out, but his throw was low to first and Thomas Miller was unable to dig it out, allowing the winning run to score. “He delivered the double play,” said Whittemore about Osmer. “It was really nice.”
CCSN took a 1-0 lead in the first, taking advantage of three defensive lapses. A single and a stolen base gave the Coyotes a runner at second with no outs. But Schlange erased the runner by cutting him down at third.
But when the WNCC defense relaxed, the hitter who reached on a fielder’s choice went to second on the play. Taylor Mieras’ passed ball allowed the runner to advance to third and he scored on Schlange’s error.
WNCC tied it in the third on Logan Parsley’s RBI-single. In the fourth, Mieras walked and was replaced by Chad Walling, who stole second. Andrew Reid followed with an RBI-single to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
Stephen Sauer was outstanding, allowing just one earned run over 4 2/3 innings, but his only walk led to the tying run in the fifth. A sacrifice bunt and an RBI- single followed, tying the score at 2-2.
Chuck Howard appeared to have nailed the runner trying to steal third that would have ended the inning, but the runner was ruled safe. After a walk, T.J. Wohlver came on and induced a popup to end the inning. Andrew Ferguson had two hits for WNCC.
WNCC 4, CCSN 0
Brink went 5 2/3 innings and combined with Dan Grubbs and Josh Creveling on the shutout. Brink induced numerous groundballs with an outstanding sinker.
“It was my pitch all day,” Brink said. “That was my out pitch, my first pitch, my behind pitch. It was everything for me.”
Brink received an outstanding defensive play in the second from second baseman Kyle Bondurant to keep the game scoreless. With two outs and nobody one, Brink appeared to have caught the batter looking on a 1-2 pitch, but it was ruled a ball.
The hitter went on to reach on Schlange’s error. Then came an infield single off of Brink’s glove and Brink hit the next batter to load the bases.
Another groundball off of Brink appeared to be heading up the middle to give CCSN a 2-0 lead. But Bondurant made a diving stop and flipped the ball to Schlange with his glove for the force.
“I just got a huge adrenaline rush,” said Brink about what the play did for him. “That was a phenomenal play right there. That was a Major League play right there. When Bondurant made that play, I just knew we were going to win the game.”
WNCC took a 2-0 lead in the third after Bondurant singled and Parsley doubled off the left field wall. Bondurant scored on a wild pitch and Parsley scored on Miller’s squeeze bunt.
With two outs and nobody on in the sixth, Schlange made an outstanding play in the hole and Miller was able to dig out Schlange’s throw. But it was ruled that Miller came off the bag too soon on another questionable call and the play went for an infield single. Brink was chased by another single.
Grubbs came on and allowed a flyball down the right-field line. Walling came on to make a diving catch to end the inning.
In the seventh, Brad Carlsen walked, Schlange was hit by a pitch and Bondurant singled to load the bases. Parsley was hit by a pitch to force in a run and Miller followed with an RBI-single to make it 4-0.
Walling was then the victim of bad luck. He roped one down the third base line, but the third baseman made a diving stop, touched third for the force and then threw home to nail Bondurant for a double play that effectively ended the rally.
Creveling came on to pitch a scoreless bottom of the seventh. Parsley doubled twice, Bondurant had two hits and Carlsen, Reid, Howard and Anthony Garcia all added a hit.