Western Nevada Community College's baseball team (4-4) ran into some tough competition this weekend, but still managed to beat another ranked opponent. The Wildcats beat Santa Ana College, the number two-ranked team in California, 8-2 on Saturday, Feb. 4.
"I'm very happy with the effort my team put in," WNCC Head Coach D.J. Whittemore said. "I was very impressed with the level of competition. This will do nothing but help us as we go into conference play in two weeks."
The Wildcats were coming off a stunning start to their inaugural season as they beat three nationally ranked teams in their first four games. WNCC's tough schedule caught up with them this weekend, as they fell to Saddleback College, California's eighth-ranked team, Irvine Valley College, and Orange Coast College, California's sixth-ranked team.
On Friday, Feb. 3, the Wildcats dropped a tight one to Saddleback, 2-0. Western ran into some tough pitching, but also exhibited some good pitching of their own. Justin Garcia, Jake Bottari and Dan Grubbs combined to hold Saddleback to two runs. WNCC finished the game with seven hits coming from Aaron Henry, Brett Mosher, Kyle Bondurant, Tyson Jaquez, Taylor Meiras, Chadd Dudley and Jerahmie Libke, but failed to manufacture any runs.
On Saturday, the Wildcats beat Santa Ana before losing to Irvine Valley 6-0. Against Santa Ana, the Wildcats smacked 11 hits including two from former Carson High star Aaron Henry. Pitchers Mason Tobin, Ryan Iodence and T.J. Wohlever held Santa Ana to two runs on five hits.
WNCC then ran into some very good pitching against Irvine Valley. Ten professional scouts were on hand to watch pitcher Jeff Kaplan, who held the Wildcats to one hit over six innings. The Wildcats had two hits in the game from Pat Grennan and Brett Mosher. Pitchers Josh Brink and Chad Riddle gave up three runs apiece.
On Sunday, Feb. 5, WNCC lost to Orange Coast 8-5. Orange Coast racked up 13 hits against Western, including a grand slam home run in the first inning. Chad Walling and Chadd Dudley had two-run doubles, and Tyson Jaquez added two hits in the loss. Cole Rohrbough and Stephen Sauer gave up three runs each.
WNCC usually uses wood bats but had to use aluminum bats over the weekend. This was a difficult transition for the team because the size of the strike zone seemed to change. "The strike zone was definitely more liberal," Whittemore said. "We struck out on a lot of pitches that weren't strikes before."
The tough opening schedule continues for the Wildcats this weekend as they play three more nationally ranked teams in a four-game series in Las Vegas and Henderson. The first two games are scheduled on Friday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. against Central Arizona College, winners of the 2002 College World Series, and then South Mountain Community College at 8 p.m. They will then meet Cypress College on Saturday, Feb. 11, and El Paso Community College on Sunday, Feb. 12.
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