Retain Top Spot in SWAC
A pair of one-run defeats to rival College of Southern Nevada on March 16 brought out the best in the Western Nevada College baseball team a day later. Tenth-ranked WNC rode the one-hit pitching of Dylan Baker and two homers by Rayne Raven to salvage a weekend split of the Scenic West Athletic Conference series in Henderson.
Southern Nevada swept the Wildcats by identical 5-4 scores on March 16. The Wildcats bounced back on March 17, winning 10-0 and 12-2. The final game only lasted five innings because of a 10-run mercy rule.
“We’re not happy, but we’re certainly not embarrassed,” said WNC Coach D.J. Whittemore. “It’s a good little wakeup call for us and proof that we have to get better.”
WNC (10-2) remains in first place in the SWAC, one game ahead of Salt Lake (8-2) in the SWAC standings. Salt Lake split a doubleheader with College of Southern Idaho on March 16, but the clubs were rained out on March 17.
Baker raised his record to 6-0 and lowered his earned run average to 0.32 by blanking the Coyotes on one hit through six innings.
“He pitched a magnificent game,” Whittemore said.
Jordan Van Hoosier broke up Baker’s no-hit bid with a one-out infield single in the sixth. Baker didn’t cover the bag on the hit to the right side of the infield.
“It doesn’t change the fact that Dylan pitched a great game against a good-hitting team that scored 10 runs against us the day before,” Whittemore said.
Prior to the hit, Pitts made a diving catch in right field to keep the no-hitter in place.
CSN, however, did work Baker for five walks but fanned eight times. Brandon Jackson threw a scoreless seventh to complete the shutout. He struck out two of the three Coyotes he faced.
Dillon Ness homered to lead off the second inning to give Baker all the run support he needed. WNC, however, pushed across four runs in the third inning for some cushion. Mike Umscheid scored an unearned run, Taylor Smart’s base hit knocked in Raven, Derrick Pitts’ sacrifice fly scored AJ Hernandez and Zach Hendrix’s RBI single plated Smart.
The Wildcats made it 6-0 in the fourth when Umscheid stroked a three-bagger and Raven drove him in with a sacrifice fly. Ness’ RBI double scored Pitts in the fifth, raising WNC’s lead to 7-0.
Western Nevada completed its scoring with three runs in the seventh. Tony Guidara’s two-run double drove home Pitts and Ness. Cole Ferguson’s fly out to center chased home Guidara to put WNC ahead 10-0. Ness finished 3-4 with three runs scored and two RBI and Hendrix was 2-3 with an RBI. Pitts and Umscheid each scored twice.
In the series finale, Hendrix’s three-run double highlighted a seven-run Wildcat first, followed by Raven’s power show in the second and third innings. Raven swatted a three-run homer in the second to make the score 10-1, then added a two-run bomb in the third to give WNC a 12-1 lead. A 35-mph wind was blowing out, aiding the hitters.
“It was one of those days where you get the ball up in the jet stream, and it worked out well for you,” Whittemore said. The Wildcats coaching staff had been concerned that threatening weather might wipe out the offensive output, but the early finish helped make the game official.
Raven’s stat line read 2-2 with three runs scored and five RBI. The surging Hendrix was 2-3 with two runs scored and three RBI. The duo accounted for four of the Wildcats’ seven hits off five CSN hurlers.
Philip Belding (2-0), the first of three WNC pitchers, scattered six hits and surrendered one earned run in three innings to earn the victory. The WNC bullpen once again shut the door. Brandon Show and Evan Parker each worked an inning and combined to allow no hits and no walks and fan three.
WNC outhit CSN 7-5 in the series opener but lost 5-4. The Coyotes built a 4-2 lead, only to see WNC battle back to tie the score at 4 with a two-run seventh. Hernandez’s two-RBI base hit with two outs in the seventh sent home Neil Lawhorn and Anthony Consiglio to extend the game.
“That was an awesome at-bat … two strikes, and AJ hit it through the left side,” Whittemore said. “AJ has really been a pleasant surprise this spring. He certainly wasn’t gifted a starting job; he earned it.”
Reliever Matt Robertson shut out the Coyotes in the bottom of the seventh but wasn’t as fortunate in the eighth. After the Wildcats left runners on second and third bases in the top of the inning, Cory Welch delivered a two-out game-winning single to end the Wildcats’ 11-game win streak.
“We just weren’t as well-prepared as CSN, and I take full responsibility for that,” Whittemore said. “I think their guys played with better passion and were the better-coached team on Friday.”
Andrew Woeck started for the Wildcats and struck out 11 Coyotes in 5 2/3 innings. Woeck gave up three hits and walked four and received no decision.
Hernandez was the only WNC batter with two hits to go along with his two key RBI. Pitts homered in the fourth to get the Wildcats on the board first, but the Coyotes struck back for three runs in their half of the fourth. The Wildcats closed to within 3-2 in the fifth on a Smart base hit, which scored Raven. But a Morgan Stotts homer put CSN in front 4-2 in the sixth.
The teams also needed an extra inning in game two, and again the Wildcats came up on the short end of a one-run decision. After falling behind 4-1 in the third, WNC rallied to knot the score at 4 by tallying three times in the fifth.
Pitts’ game-tying homer followed a double by Hernandez and a single off the bat of Ness. The Wildcats’ only other run came in the third when Smart led off the frame with a homer. In the eighth, Rodee Anderson’s two-out single off Austin Richmond scored Jack LaMarca with the deciding run.
After the Coyotes’ early scoring damage against WNC starter Tyler Spencer, Consiglio kept the Wildcats close with 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Consiglio gave up three hits, struck out six and walked four.
“Anthony was a real bright spot on Friday,” Whittemore said. “He pitched extremely well and gave us a chance to win.”
Leading WNC’s 12-hit attack were Hernandez, Pitts, Smart and Bobby Gazzola ��" each of whom collected two hits. The Wildcats stranded seven base runners, but the Coyotes left 11 men on base.
Western Nevada (21-7 overall) now prepares for back-to-back home series with College of Southern Idaho and Salt Lake Community College. The Wildcats meet CSI Friday-Saturday, March 23-24 at John L. Harvey Field, with each doubleheader starting at noon.
“They are always close games, which makes the week fun,” Whittemore said.
Press Release: March 18, 2012
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