Wildcats Ranked 18th Nationally
Western Nevada College baseball team found success the hard way this weekend, staking its opponents to early leads on Sunday, but coming back to win by identical 6-5 scores against the College of Eastern Utah. Saturday's games were also close, with the 'cats on top 5-3 and 5-2. No. 18 ranked Western (21-3 conference, 27-9 overall) continues to lead the Scenic West by two games with 16 left to play.
Second place College of Southern Nevada (19-5, 27-15) visits Western this weekend in key doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday at John L. Harvey Field in Carson City.
"We are looking forward to challenging ourselves this weekend against the two-time defending SWAC champions," Coach DJ Whittemore said today. "The way we look at it, they are the champs until someone knocks them off - and with their balanced lineup and tremendous pitching, that is a tall order. We will need to be at our best to compete."
Sterling relief pitching played a big part Western's wins both days. In Sunday's first game, Eastern Utah was able to build a 5-1 lead against WNC starter David Carroll entering the bottom of the third. However, reliever Kramer Champlin saved the day by pitching four innings of one-hit ball, and fanning five along the way.
Western had its own big inning in the third, trimming the deficit to 5-4 with three runs off two wild pitches and a Travis Feiner double. The game was tied in the fifth when Mike Stiles singled, then scored on Lance Ray's triple.
A dramatic seventh saw Stiles hit an infield single and advance to second on a Jerome Pena sacrifice bunt. Ray and Brian Barnett walked to load the bases and Feiner's hit ended the game.
In the second game, Eastern Utah took an early lead going 4-0 in the top of the second. Barnett, who packs a .353 batting average, began the comeback with a two-run double, and Andrew Garcia hit a run-scoring single. Feiner also drove in a run.
In the fifth inning, Mike Long's pinch-hit single scored Garcia, which was the margin of victory.
Logan Odom won the game in relief and Jeremy Gendlek earned a save.
Whittemore said he was proud of his team being able to come from behind. "The players once again did a phenomenal job of playing each and every pitch as if it is the most important of the game, and that is what makes this team successful.
" We don't have a team chock-full of superstars but we do have a team full of good players that play hard every day."
In Saturday's games, the Spartans were also tough, but Western pulled out the close wins. A Ray homer with one on in the sixth inning of the first game turned out to be the difference, as Eastern Utah threatened to tie the game in the seventh. The Spartans scored one run and left two men on base.Jordan Lewis pitched 6.2 innings for the win and Champlin earned the save.
In the second game, Western got an early 5-0 jump after two innings, with Long hitting a triple that scored three in the first inning. Long also scored on a Zylstra single. In the next at bat, it was another big triple, this time off the bat of Barnett, that scored Ray.
Eastern Utah scored single runs in the fourth and and fifth innings, but could get no closer. Kyle Starratt earned the win with 5.1 innings, giving up five hits and two runs. Josh Moody was solid in relief giving up one hit and striking out three in 3.2 innings.
Press Release: April 6, 2009
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