May 6, 2012

WNC Hits Four Homers in Handing Salt Lake Second, Third Home Defeats

Wildcats Sweep Bruins Behind Power Hitting, Pitching

Don't tell the Western Nevada College baseball team that its final regular-season baseball games against Salt Lake on May 5 were meaningless.

A day after the Bruins wrapped up the Scenic West Athletic Conference title with two come-from-behind victories, the Wildcats handed Salt Lake a pair of rare home defeats.

Powered by home runs off the bats of Cole Ferguson, Chris Woolley and Mike Umscheid, the Wildcats outscored Salt Lake 10-6 in the opening game in West Jordan, Utah. WNC followed up its win in the opener with a 4-3 victory behind Brandon Jackson and Rayne Raven.

"That was a good sign, although it didn't surprise me," said WNC Coach D.J. Whittemore. "Our team has worked awfully hard this year. They are a pretty driven bunch. We have stressed since August that you have to play every pitch, whether you won the last game or lost the last game. You play because you love the game, not based on what happened, might happen or did happen."

The home losses were the second and third on the season for the Bruins (40-8 overall, 31-6 SWAC) and gave the Wildcats (42-13, 31-8) momentum heading into the Region XVIII Tournament at the same venue May 9-12.

WNC will play its first regional game at 2:30 p.m. on May 19.

"It doesn't matter who we play; they are going to be dangerous," Whittemore said.

Ferguson's three-run blast over the left-field fence in the second inning off Salt Lake's Ruddy Acosta gave WNC a 3-0 lead.

The Wildcats padded their lead to 5-0 in the fourth when Umscheid tripled to center field and scored on an Alex Schmidt single, and Ferguson doubled in Schmidt.

But Salt Lake battled back after WNC starter Andrew Woeck was pulled.

In the fourth, Kennedy Kinkade slammed a three-run homer as part of a four-run rally, pulling the Bruins within 5-4.

WNC, however, wanted no part of another Salt Lake rally. The Wildcats got the runs back in the fifth behind the power hitting of Woolley and Umscheid. Woolley delivered a solo homer to left center to make the score 6-4, then Umscheid cracked a three-run bomb to move the Wildcats in front 9-4.

Kinkade belted his second homer, a two-run shot off Evan Parker (1-0) in the sixth, but Bobby Pappin had an answer in the seventh. His RBI single gave closer Raven a four-run lead to work with. Raven recorded a strikeout and Umscheid squeezed the final out in the outfield.

Woeck (7-2) didn't figure in the decision, working 2 2/3 innings. He struck out four and didn't allow a hit.

The Wildcats' power show continued at the outset of the second game of the doubleheader. Following a leadoff single by Woolley, Taylor Smart hustled around the bases for an RBI triple. Zach Hendrix brought home Smart on a groundout to short for a 2-0 WNC lead. Raven capped the productive first frame with a two-run homer.

Salt Lake cut WNC's lead in half during its first at-bat as Steven Adam and Dominique Taylor scored runs.

The runs were the first off WNC pitcher Brandon Jackson since he became a starter after the first series with Salt Lake back on March 30-31. Jackson (7-1) blanked the Bruins in the second, third and fourth innings before being relieved by Philip Belding in the fifth.

Belding struck out pinch-hitter Tyson Popoff and Taylor to start a 1-2-3 sixth inning. The 6-foot-1 right-hander allowed just one hit and fanned two during his two innings of work.

Kinkade greeted closer Brandon Show with a long home run to open the seventh. It was Kinkade's third homer for the day and pulled the Bruins to within 4-3. But Show shook off the run, striking out two and retiring a third batter on a fly out to earn the save.

Rhett Parkinson, Dalton Gust, Colton Barkdull and Michael Springer silenced the Wildcat bats after taking over for Colby Berg in the second frame. The Wildcats were limited to two hits after their first-inning scoring flurry. Woolley led WNC with two hits.

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