Close games are what good rivalries are made of, and Friday's doubleheader between Western Nevada College and their southern counterparts, College of Southern Nevada, did not disappoint. The WNC Wildcats outlasted the CSN Coyotes, 4-3 and 3-2, at John L. Harvey Field in Carson City, but not before going into extra innings in both seven-inning contests.
Western opened up a 2-0 lead in the third inning when centerfielder Connor Eppard smacked a two RBI double to the left field fence. Relentless fielding in the fourth inning by shortstop Tanner Nielsen held the Coyotes at bay, as he made plays in all three outs.
CSN tied the game 2-2 in the sixth inning, scoring two runs on three hits against Wildcats starting pitcher Anthony Consiglio. Reliever Chris Garrison, who got the win, saw pinch hitter Bobby Shiroky smack a solo home run over left field for a 3-2 CSN lead.
But it was the Wildcats bats that ultimately made the difference. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Nielsen again made the difference with a walk-off two RBI double that scored Sean Potkay and Kody Gorden for the win.
"Today was my day," Nielson said after the game. "I saw that the centerfielder moved over. I felt relaxed, and I took a deep breath.....you dream of that," he said.
Garrison said he was ready to be called on as the reliever, and had faith in his teammates to find a way to score. "That's why we work hard," he said. And, with a smile, he added, "I'm just glad my team can manufacture runs."
WNC fell behind again in the second contest, as a cold rain began to fall. Starting pitcher Kody Gordon gave up three hits and the Coyotes led 1-0 after the opening inning. The Wildcats then tightened up their defense and held until the fifth inning when Duncan Satherlie sent a solo home run over the right field fence for a 2-0 CSN lead.
But the Wildcats didn't panic, and both Brandon Jackson, who pitched in the sixth and seventh innings, and closer Tim Peterson, who got the win, held the Coyotes at bay.
WNC tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring two runs on an RBI single by Chris Wooley and an RBI triple by designated hitter Jonathan Sigado.
The Wildcats scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning when Brooks Klein reached third base on an error, then scored the walk-off run on a grounder by Bobby Pappin.
Head Coach DJ Whittemore said his team started slow in both games, "but they kept playing" against a tough CSN pitching corps. "It's fast ball," he said simply. "You just keep playing."
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