WNCC going to Junior College World Series
SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. – Western Nevada Community College is headed to junior college baseball’s version of the Big Dance.
The Wildcats led 6-0 after three innings, and then gave up 10 unanswered runs before Chuck Howard hit a three-run homer to snap a 10-all tie and lift Western Nevada to a 13-10 come-from-behind win over Central Arizona College Friday night in the Regional championship game.
Western Nevada, in just its second year of existence, now moves on to the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. next Saturday. Western Nevada plays at 7 p.m. in the 10-team double-elimination tournament.
“It all starts with having great character,” WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore said after the wild victory. “Our team never quit. They have worked hard and made a lot of sacrifices. They pulled for each other, and in true team fashion, had a different guy step up every game.”
Western Nevada trailed 10-6 entering the eighth after Tony Pechek pounded WNCC reliever Jeremy Joustra for a two-run homer in the fifth to give Central Arizona a 7-6 lead, and then launched a three-run homer off Joustra in the top of the seventh for a 10-6 lead.
Kyle Bondurant singled, moved to third on Cliff Shepard’s double and scored on Thomas Miller’s sacrifice fly. Andrew Reid and Brad Carlsen walked to load the bases, and ex-Carson star Logan Parsley slammed a two-run double to make it 10-9. Pat Grennan walked and Taylor Mieras’ infield out drove in the game-tying run.
That set the stage for Howard, who slugged his game-winner on a 3-1 fastball to give WNCC a 13-10 lead. Closer Stephen Sauer worked a scoreless ninth to close it out. It was his fourth save since being moved to the bullpen.
Though Howard’s hit will claim most of the attention, reliever T.J. Wohlever came up big for the Wildcats. He struck out four of the five batters he retired after relieving Joustra following Pechek’s second homer of the game.
Bondurant led WNCC’s 16-hit attack with four hits, while Mieras added three. Shepard, Miller, Reid and Parsley all added two hits.
Western Nevada has played well away from home in recent weeks, and Whittemore said much of that can be attributed to the trips the team took early in the year.
“That’s why we do it to prepare for winning championships on the road,” Whittemore said. “We took our lumps early. We went down to Southern California and lost four games.”
And Whittemore’s band of merry men get a chance to take their show on the road again next week.