First Pitch - Saturday at Noon
The Western Nevada College baseball team is one win away from its third regional championship in the program's six-year history. The top-seeded Wildcats will play for the NJCAA Region 18 title on Saturday after an inspired 11-3 win over second seed Salt Lake Community College today.
WNC is now 2-0 in the double elimination tournament and will face a rematch with the Bruins after they topped College of Southern Idaho in the loser's bracket to climb back into the hunt for a championship. The championship game begins at noon at John L. Harvey Field in Carson City, with a second game following if needed.
In Friday's win, the Wildcats delivered 11 runs on 11 hits, led by first baseman Sean Potkay who hit two home runs, centerfielder Connor Eppard, with an RBI double, and Zach Hendrix, who smacked an RBI double that gave the Wildcats the victory on the eight-run lead in eight-innings rule.
Salt Lake jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a Wildcats fielding error. WNC battled back to 2-1 in the second inning on Potkay's solo home run over left field.
The Wildcats took a 4-2 lead in the third inning, scoring three runs on hits by shortstop Tanner Nielsen and third baseman Chris Wooley, and a sacrifice fly by left-fielder Beau Day.
The Bruins answered in the top of the fourth inning when left-fielder Dominique Taylor scored an unearned run off a Wildcats throwing error to move within one, 4-3. Catcher Mitch Manning then advanced to third base on a pass ball and headed for home on the next play, but the run was called was called back for the runner leaving early, preventing the tie and building momentum for the Wildcats.
WNC widened the lead to 5-3 in the fifth inning on Potkay's home run, and 6-3 in the sixth when Klein scored on a Nielsen grounder. The Wildcats added three runs on three hits in the sixth inning, and Nielsen scored a run in the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly by Eppard for a 9-3 lead. That set the stage for Hendrix's game-ending RBI.
Starting pitcher Kody Gorden nearly went the distance, pitching 7/1/3 innings and allowing three runs on five hits, along with five strikeouts and two walks. Tyler Spencer pitched the final two outs.
"We put ourselves in a good spot and got to capitalize on it," said WNC Head Coach DJ Whittemore. He credited Potkay for revving up the Wildcats offense, and Gorden for a great day on the mound.
"Kody Gorden pitched a whale of a game, under big pressure," Whittemore said. He threw a lot of good pitches," Potkay, he said, "hammered balls and got us jump-started."
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