May 14, 2009

Wildcats beat Northeastern Junior College 10-5

WNC Grabs First NJCAA Playoff Win

A solid pitching effort combined with timely hitting propelled Western Nevada College to a first-round victory in the NJCAA Western District playoffs Thursday. The Wildcats shut down Northeastern Junior College 10-5 at John L. Harvey Field.

WNC will now play Friday at noon against Central Arizona College, which dominated the College of Southern Idaho 11-1 in the Thursday afternoon game.

Starting Wildcats pitcher David Carroll held his own on the mound against the solid hitting of NJC and their starting pitcher, former WNC Wildcats team member Matt Klein, who transferred to the Colorado school after last season. Carroll pitched 7.1 innings with six strikeouts and eight hits, giving up five runs, while Klein pitched six innings with four strikeouts and nine hits, giving up nine runs.

"Carroll was outstanding," said WNC Head Coach DJ Whittemore. "It was a big time performance." By pitching more than seven innings, Carroll helped save the Wildcats bullpen, the coach said. He also credited catcher Jerome Pena for his performance: "Jerome called a great game."

Northeastern jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Leadoff batter Mike Goldy hit a ground rule double on the first pitch, and centerfielder Billy McHenry brought him home with an RBI single. Moments later, outfielder Sean Flaherty added an RBI single of his own.

WNC answered quickly in the bottom of the first when right-fielder Lance Ray hit a solo home run for a 2-1 score. In the bottom of the third, the Wildcats took the lead for good, scoring three runs on RBIs by first baseman Eric Maupin and designated hitter Jay Skilton.

Northeastern managed a run in the fifth inning on a Wildcats fielding error to pull within one at 4-3, but WNC answered with five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Second baseman Mike Stiles hit an RBI, followed by an RBI double by Ray and another by centerfielder Mike Long. Maupin added an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh for a 10-3 lead, and NJC added two in the eighth for the final score.

All the teams in the Western District playoffs come from wooden bat leagues, and are having to adjust to playing with metal bats as required at this level by the NJCAA. The JUCO World Series also uses metal bats.

Looking toward Friday's game, Whittemore said Central Arizona College has been in the top 10 of NJCAA Division 1 baseball polls all year. He said his team will need to play a complete game to win - "We'll have to do our best pitching and manufacture some runs" along the way, Whittemore said.

The double elimination tournament will have three games Friday and the championship game at noon on Saturday. Admission is $10 per day or $25 for the entire tournament. Youth 6-14 admission is $5 per day and children 5 and under are free, as are WNC students with current student body ID.

The winner of the tournament goes on to the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. on May 23.

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