WNCC begins playoffs today
The postseason road for the Western Nevada Community College baseball team goes through College of Southern Idaho, beginning today.
WNCC begins play today in the Scenic West Athletic Conference postseason tournament at 1 p.m. when the Wildcats play Colorado Northwestern Community College. The winner will advance to face Southern Idaho at 5 p.m. today.
The loser of that game will have to come back and play the loser of the today’s first game at 1 p.m. Friday. The winner of that game will then face the winner of Thursday’s lat game at 5 p.m. Friday.
In the tournament’s double elimination format, another game would be played at 1 p.m. Saturday if necessary.
The winner of the tournament will face the winner of the other tournament being hosted by Community College of Southern Nevada. The two winners will meet each other in a best-of-three series for the SWAC postseason title with the higher seed being the host.
After finishing third in the SWAC in the regular season, WNCC (31-22-2, 25-15) earned the right to travel to Southern Idaho, which finished second at 28-12. CCSN won the regular season title at 29-11.
Meanwhile, WNCC pitcher Cole Rohrbough was one of two players in the SWAC to be nominated for All-American status after being named to the all-conference first team. Joining Rohrbough on the first team was first baseman Andrew Reid.
Pitcher Stephen Sauer, infielder Kyle Bondurant and outfielder Brad Carlsen were all named to the second team. Pitcher Justin Garcia and Carlsen were also named to the all-defensive team.
WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore said the key to today will be winning both games. “The bottom line is don’t lose the first game, don’t lose the second game,” he said.
Jake Bottari will be the starting pitcher against Colorado Northwestern. If WNCC wins, Rohrbough will receive the start against Southern Idaho. Garcia will start game three.
Whittemore said everyone on the pitching staff will be available to come out of the bullpen today, with the exception of Rohrbough and Garcia. That means Sauer, who likely would start game four if necessary, is available today and Friday out of the bullpen. “If he hasn’t pitched out of the bullpen, he would start game four,” Whittemore said.
Even if he has pitched out of the bullpen, Sauer could still start game four if necessary. “He’s in great shape,” Whittemore said. “He never complains, very team-oriented. He’ll pitch when we need him.”
While Colorado Northwestern finished last in the SWAC, WNCC can’t take the Spartans lightly. While the Wildcats won 7-of-8 from the Spartans this season, virtually all of the games have been competitive.
The Spartans also have two solid pitchers in Cody Shafer and Zeb Besant. “He’s a quality arm,” said Whittemore about Besant. “They have a couple of good pitchers.”
The status of Southern Idaho’s staff is unclear as Adam Urnberg and James Wallace have been battling arm problems. But it’s expected both will be available this week.
Even with the injuries, Southern Idaho still has an outstanding pitching staff with Jordan Latham and Jason Oatman, who has been outstanding both as a reliever and a starter. The Golden Eagles also have relief pitcher Trent Johnson, who was named to the All-SWAC first team.
Whittemore said Rohrbough has a great deal to prove in the playoffs. “Cole’s really worked very hard for his honors,” Whittemore said.
“I think he deserves any honors that he gets. The big thing for him is to go out and prove hes the best pitcher in the conference in the postseason.”
Whittemore admitted he was a little disappointed that Sauer didn’t make the first team. All-SWAC selections were based on conference statistics only.
Rohrbough was 7-2 with a 1.12 earned run average, striking out 81 in 56.1 innings in conference. Sauer had the lowest opponents batting average of any starter pitcher in conference at .149. He was 6-1 with a 1.34 E.R.A. in conference.
Reid hit .400 with 17 RBI in conference. Carlsen ranked in the top five in conference in RBI (25), was second in total bases and first in runs (25). He hit .272 in conference. Bondurant hit .278 in the SWAC.
CCSN relief pitcher Tyler Lavigne was the other player nominated to be an All-American. CCSN’s Easton Gust was named as the Defensive Player of the Year. All-conference selections were:
First team: Infield – Reid, WNCC; Bryce Massanari, CCSN; Alex Rosen han, Eastern Utah; Nik Gumesen, Southern Idaho. Outfield – Bret Boyd, Eastern Utah; Zackary Swasey, Salt Lake Community College; Grant Keveder, Southern Idaho. DH – Chase Leavitt, CCSN. Catcher – Braeden Schlehuber, CCSN.
Second team: Infield – Tony Altavilla, Southern Idaho; Kyle Bostick, CCSN; Bondurant; Gust. Outfield – Carlsen; Tyson Gonzalez, Salt Lake; Jeff Gonzales, CCSN. Catcher – Grant Vickers, Southern Idaho. Pitchers – Sauer; Oatman; Tyson Ford, Salt Lake.