Some might say Western Nevada College has taken the high road to the NJCAA Region 18 Championship. The top-seeded Wildcats earned a bye in the first round of the four-day tourney, won handily in their second round contest (12-3), then outhit College of Southern Idaho in Friday's semifinal matchup for a 6-1 win. However, Western Nevada coach DJ Whittemore knows better than to overlook his opponent in Saturday's tournament final.
The Wildcats will face a rematch with College of Southern Idaho, who dominated Salt Lake Community College 15-6 in the late game Friday to earn a second chance against the top seed.
"To say it's a stiff test is an understatement," Whittemore said. "CSI led the league in batting average, home runs, doubles, and total runs. They'll have their best pitcher ready to go against us. We'll have to bring a great effort to win."
Friday, it was WNC that outhit the Golden Eagles, jumping out to a 4-0 lead on four hits in the first inning, and holding CSI to a single run and seven hits for the game. WNC finished with nine hits. Shortstop Daniel Zylstra had 2-run RBIs in both the sixth and eight innings. Centerfielder Mike Long and catcher Jerome Pena each had an RBI.
Winning pitcher Jordan Lewis (10-2) went 7 2/3 innings, before WNC's outstanding closer, Kramer Champlin, finished.
The loss threw CSI into the loser's bracket, but they went to work immediately against the Bruins and scored within 10 minutes of the first pitch. Salt Lake made it into the semifinals after a 6-4 upset over second seed College of Southern Nevada earlier in the day, eliminating the Coyotes from the tournament.
Saturday's championship game begins at noon at WNC's John L. Harvey Field. Because the Wildcats have not lost a game, a second game will be played to decide the championship if CSI wins the first contest.
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