WNCC leaves ’em ‘Grennan’
Appeal Sports Writer
For the better part of three games, the Salt Lake Community College Bruins’ pitchers were handing about as many runs as Scrooge handed out dollar bills – next to none.
After scoring only one run in dropping a Friday double header, WNCC, trailing 1-0, had put up a goose egg after 6 2/3 innings Saturday at Ron McNutt Field at Carson High School.
But if the Wildcat faithful wore frowns for nearly two days, at least they were left grinnin’ – make that Grennan. Pat Grennan, that is.
WNCC left fielder Grennan launched a two-out, two-run single off 6-foot-7 reliever Travis Barnett in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Wildcats a 2-1 victory over the Bruins in their Scenic West Athletic Conference matchup.
Pinch runner Jimmy Pierce (he replaced Kyle Bondurant after he walked) was the first over the plate from third base and 2004 CHS graduate Aaron Henry raced home from second to help the Wildcats improve to 14-13 overall and 8-7 in the SWAC, and moved them a full game in front of SLCC for fourth place.
Asked for his reaction to the win, Grennan supplied a great summary of the last inning.
“I saw guys battling their hearts out,” Grennan said. “(After Barnett struck out pinch hitters Chadd Dudley and Chad Walling), I saw Bondurant getting a walk and Henry get a base hit. They (the Bruins) showed their respect to (third baseman Tyson) Jaquez by intentionally walking him.
“I just tried to get up there and do my job, which is to drive in runs and win the game.”
Consider it a job well done.
SLCC coach D.G. Nelson had no doubts about who should’ve won the game.
“We should’ve,” he said. “We have the league’s best closer. I tip my hat to them for coming back and getting the win.”
The win, which dropped the Bruins to 15-11 overall and 7-8 in the SWAC, also was a little extra sweet for Henry.
“This was my birthday present,” said Henry, who turned 20 on Saturday. “Winning the game was all I really wanted. It was a cutting fastball a little bit over the plate. It was a huge win after (Friday). We were real flat coming back from (playing) Dixie State. We needed a win to get us on a roll.”
It wasn’t his birthday, but WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore, who said Friday his team’s back was against the wall, was clearly pleased as well.
“It came down to the last out with nobody on base,” Whittemore said. “We’re lucky our best hitter was out there and earned a walk. I tell you what, the only way to beat that team is to get the lead early. That closer there (Barnett) doesn’t give up many runs. He’s really hard to hit. He’s as nasty as they come. He throws as hard as I’ve seen a submariner throw it.
“That’s a good ball club. It’s going to be another dogfight (today). With both our pitching staffs, we’ll always play low-scoring games. And (Henry) is the only guy on the team that scores on that hit.”
It was indeed a pitcher’s duel. Justin Garcia pitched 5 2/3 of shutout ball, allowing three hits. He was relived by Dan Grubbs, who pitched a hitless game, but got into a little trouble in the top of the sixth when he walked SLCC’s Tyson Mackay to lead off the inning.
Although he got both Tyson Gonzalez and Joey Siddons to ground out, he couldn’t prevent Mackay from advancing to third. A wild pitch to Cole Anderson brought in Mackay and gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
Mac Nelson pitched five innings of scoreless ball for SLCC, allowing four hits and three walks and striking out three before Barnett relieved him.
And, as Whittemore put it, with their backs again against the wall, the Wildcats delivered when it counted most.
“Our enthusiasm coming out of the dugout was phenomenal,” Grennan said. “It helped us win the baseball game. When you’re prepared and ready to come out to win, that’s what happens.”
The Wildcats hope that’s the case again today. They will face SLCC in the final game of this series at Ron McNutt Field, beginning at 11 a.m.