Western Nevada split with Colorado Northwestern in Saturday’s doubleheader, marking only the third time in school history that Spartans have beaten the Wildcats, and denying WNC a season sweep of the Scenic West Athletic Conference baseball series.
The Wildcats erupted for 10 runs in the third inning to win the opener 14-0 at John L. Harvey Field, but the Spartans used a five-run uprising late in game two to pull out a 6-4 victory. Derrick Pitts and Neil Lawhorn each belted three-run homers in the pivotal third inning, part of a 16-hit attack by the Wildcats. Pitts (1-0) also picked up the pitching decision, throwing three hitless frames and striking out seven.
Following Andrew Woeck’s complete-game one-hitter in the series opener, WNC Coach D.J. Whittemore elected to split up the pitching duties for the final three games. Evan Parker and Rayne Raven finished the five-inning blanking of the Spartans, allowing a combined three hits.
“We hit the ball extremely well in game one, and although we played with same effort in the second game we did not score enough to win,” said WNC Coach DJ Whittemore. “Starting pitching has been historically the strength of the team. This season is no exception. When we pitch well, we win. When we don’t pitch well enough to win - we still usually win - and that is the mark of a good team.”
In the batters’ box, Mike Umscheid led the Wildcats by going 3-3 with three RBI, while Alex Schmidt went 3-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Bobby Pappin had two hits in three trips to the plate, and Lawhorn was 2-2 with three RBI and two runs scored.
Brandon Jackson worked three no-hit innings before being relieved by Phil Belding (2-1) in the fourth. Raven, Brandon Show and Austin Richmond also pitched in relief for the Wildcats.
WNC appeared to pick up where it left off in the first game by scoring a run in the first inning. Taylor Smart singled, moved to second base on a walk to Pitts and came home on an infield error. But the score remained 1-0 until the fifth. Despite Smart being tagged out at third base when he over-slid the bag, the Wildcats again took advantage of a Spartan miscue. Pitts scored all the way from second base on a two-out infield throwing error.
Colorado Northwestern responded by pushing across five runs on four hits in the top of the sixth to go ahead 5-2 and added a sixth run in the seventh. Lawhorn swatted a pinch-hit homer in the sixth to close the deficit.
Until the Spartans’ sixth-inning scoring flurry, WNC pitching had limited the visitors to one run and 11 hits over 24 innings.
WNC pieced together a seventh-inning rally, where the potential tying and winning runs were on base. Smart led off with a base hit and took second on Zach Hendrix’s fly out to center. After Pitts was intentionally walked, Dillon Ness singled home Smart to make the score 6-4. Schmidt flied out to center for the second out, but a walk to AJ Hernandez loaded the bases. The game ended on Pappin’s fly out to left field.
Smart was credited with three of WNC’s seven hits, and he scored twice.
The split left Western Nevada (18-5) a full game behind SWAC-leading Salt Lake (18-3), which swept a four-game home series against Southern Nevada.
“Our primary focus has been and will continue to be - get better faster - and play our best baseball at the end of the year,” Coach Whittemore said. “In order to accomplish that goal we use our pitching staff with a goal of continuing to develop depth in our bullpen. We have a great group of teammates who are spending a great deal of effort preparing each day and week to be their best.”
The Wildcats (29-10 overall) will continue SWAC play against Eastern Utah on Thursday-Friday, April 12-13, in Price, Utah.
Press Release: April 9, 2012
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