Wins Put Wildcats at 14-2 in the SWAC
College of Southern Idaho found one way to compete with stingy Western Nevada pitcher Dylan Baker on Saturday, March 24 - match his scoreless innings.
CSI starter Kyle Olason held the Wildcats without a run for four innings and sidearm reliever Cody White mixed in a few scoreless frames before WNC pushed across the deciding run in the seventh for a 2-1 Scenic West Athletic Conference baseball victory in the first of two games at John L. Harvey Field.
Baker threw six scoreless innings before the Golden Eagles scored an unearned run in the seventh to tie the score at 1. WNC, however, delivered a rally of its own in the bottom of the seventh as Bobby Pappin scored on a wild pitch with two outs.
In the seventh-inning rally, Pappin worked a walk off White, stole second base and went to third when Dustin Doucette's first offering in relief of White went to the backstop. After a walk to Kyle Hendrix, Pappin trotted home from third when ball four to Dillon Ness skipped under the legs of catcher Luke Miller.
"I was ready to score," said Pappin, who was making only his third appearance of the season after recovering from a broken bone in his right hand. "Once I got in position to score, I expected our batters to get a hit."
Baker, who entered the game with a 0.32 earned run average, finished with a two-hitter and nine strikeouts. CSI only hit one ball out of the infield against Baker, who won his seventh game in as many decisions.
"Dylan was better than adjectives can describe," said WNC Coach D.J. Whittemore.
"I just wanted to get that win for Dylan because he gave his all for the team today," Pappin said.
Ness hit a two-strike sacrifice fly to get the Wildcats on the scoreboard with one out in the fifth. Ness started his at-bat trying to lay down a bunt to the first-base side, trying to take advantage of Olason's tendency to fall off to the right side of the mound. With the outfielders playing in because of a stiff wind blowing in from center, Ness took Olason's two-strike pitch deep enough into center to score Taylor Smart. Smart started the rally with a one-out single to right, then got a jump to second and wound up at third on Hendrix's base hit to right.
A hidden ball trick prevented the Wildcats from adding to their lead. On pinch-hitter Mike Umscheid's double to the left-field corner, Hendrix was tagged out at third base after safely sliding into the bag. The Golden Eagles (6-8 in the SWAC) took advantage of the baserunning mistake by pushing across the tying run in the seventh. Baker hurt his cause by throwing high to first on Carter Yagi's sacrifice bunt, enabling Keenan Takatch to reach third and Yagi second. Takatch crossed home plate with the tying run when the next hitter, Parker Webster, lined a sacrifice fly to center. CSI left Yagi on third base when Umscheid reached high to grab Hendrix's throw to first for the final out of the inning.
In the sixth, Baker fell behind Luke Miller 3-0 but rallied to strike him out. Next, Andrew Freter beat out a bunt single down the third-base line and went to second on Tyler Dunnington's sacrifice bunt. But the threat ended there as Smart fielded Chance Harris' grounder up the middle and threw him out at first for the third out. Baker didn't allow a one-out baserunner to reach scoring position in the first. Takatch hit an infield single, beating second baseman's Zach Hendrix throw to first. But Hendrix started an inning-ending double play by catching Yagi's soft liner, then doubling off Takatch at first.
WNC missed an opportunity to do some damage against Olason in the first. Olason worked his way-out out of a bases loaded, no-out jam. Walks to Smart and Ness, as well as a base hit Hendrix, gave the Wildcats the early scoring chance. A dropped infield pop fly by first baseman Webster didn't help the Wildcats, with the automatic out followed by a flyout and groundout.
In game two, the Wildcats again struggled at the plate but WNC worked CSI pitchers for nine walks, and the Golden Eagles hit two batters and made three errors. WNC managed five hits in each game.
Smart's one-out double in the first and three straight walks helped WNC take a 1-0 lead. After CSI went ahead 2-1 in the top of the second, Bobby Gazzola scored from second base when pitcher Gary Koopman made an error on Cole Ferguson's sacrifice bunt. WNC made two errors in the fourth, contributing to two runs and a 4-2 CSI lead.
WNC got a run back in its fourth as pinch-runner Anthony Consiglio, the winning pitcher in Friday's second game, scored on a two-out bases-loaded walk to Hendrix. Smart stroked his second double of the game to start the Wildcats' game-tying rally in the sixth. Ness moved Smart to third with a sacrifice bunt. After a walk to Hendrix, Smart scored on an error by pitcher Eric Holdren, who had just entered the game.
Brandon Jackson worked out of a two-runner jam in the top of the seventh to keep the score tied at 4. With two outs, Tanner Morache doubled and Chase Harris was intentionally walked. A fielder's choice ended the scoring chance.
For the second straight game, Pappin started WNC's winning seventh-inning rally. Pappin reached on a base hit, setting the stage for Lawhorn's game-ending home run.
"It's fun to see Neil come up with a big like that," Whittemore said. "It was Neil's birthday, and he's having an outstanding season for us," Whittemore said. "I'm really happy for him … to see how much he's gone through to earn a starting job in our program. He had a frustrating season a year ago, so it's awesome to see him playing good.”
Jackson worked 3 1/3 scoreless frames to improve his record to 3-1. He allowed three hits and fanned four. Philip Belding started, giving up three hits and two earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. Reliever Austin Richmond allowed the same numbers in two innings before Jackson entered in the fourth inning to shut out the Golden Eagles the rest of the way.
"I felt like our pitchers did a tremendous job," said Whittemore, noting that his staff surrendered six runs, only three earned, in the four-game set with CSI. "The foundation of our program has always been our pitching."
Smart's two doubles led the Wildcats' five-hit attack. Hendrix drew three walks.
"When you get a 30-mph wind blowing in all day, it's going to make getting hits tough," Whittemore said. "Until the seventh inning, we didn't come up with a big hit. CSI has a good pitching staff, and I thought their pitchers did a good job of stranding runners."
WNC remains in a first-place SWAC tie with Salt Lake in the loss column, improving to 14-2. Salt Lake (12-2) and WNC begin a four-game series Friday, March 30 at John L. Harvey Field.
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