Wildcats Struggles to Score Against Salt Lake
Salt Lake Community College had the answer Saturday to slowing down the Western Nevada Wildcats after a 9-0 defeat in the second game of a doubleheader on Friday: stingy pitching.
The Bruins used a pair of dominant starting performances, including a three-hit complete-game shutout by Brady Corless, to sweep the Wildcats, 4-0 and 6-3, in a Scenic West Athletic Conference baseball twin bill at John L. Harvey Field in Carson City.
The Wildcats had a combined seven hits against Corless and second-game starter Rhett Nelson, with eight overall, in the two games.
“I think Salt Lake’s pitching deserves credit. They obviously did a good job of game planning last night and executing it today, so I give them credit,” said WNC coach D.J. Whittemore. “We might have had too many one-pitch outs. When you are playing a good team in Scenic West wood bat baseball, it comes down a to pitch or a play here or there, and we didn’t make enough pitches and we didn’t get enough hits.”
WNC slipped to 2-6 in the SWAC and 14-10 overall. Salt Lake raised its SWAC mark to 6-2.
The Bruins jumped on the Wildcats for two runs in the first. Bo Fisher’s two-out double scored Steven Adam and Palmer Page. Salt Lake added a run in the second as Bryan Heward came home on a passed ball. Fisher’s home run to left in the third put Salt Lake ahead, 4-0.
That was more than enough for Salt Lake right-handed pitcher Corless, who tossed his second shutout of the season. He allowed three hits and six base runners in the seven-inning victory.
Luke Eubank, typically Western Nevada’s closer, made his second start of the season in the opener. Eubank fanned four through three innings, but Fisher’s two extra-base hits were his undoing with two outs in the third.
Evan Parker, who relieved Eubank, pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings to keep the Wildcats within striking range. Corless walked Cole Ferguson on four pitches to open the seventh inning, but Connor Klein grounded into a double play to take the steam out of the rally. Mike Umscheid lifted the Wildcats’ third hit off Corless and was stranded at third after stealing second and advancing to third on catcher Nathan Fishel’s throwing error.
Tyler Baker scored WNC’s first run of the day, advancing home on Becker’s sacrifice fly, just beating left fielder Jordan Leinweber’s throw to the plate.
Salt Lake built a 3-0 lead, taking advantage of four walks by freshman hurler Christian Stolo. Two of the free passes scored.
“That’s something as a freshman he can learn from is that you always want the other team to beat you swinging the bat,” Whittemore said.
The Wildcats missed a chance to tie the score in the fourth, putting runners on second and third with one out. Joe Crunkilton started the rally with a one-out single to right and went to third on a bunt single by Donald Glover Jr. A two-out walk to Jack Hall loaded the bases, but Nelson got Colby Rice to ground out to first base.
“We got some runners on base, and they made the pitches when they had to,” Whittemore said. “Winning teams get hits with runners in scoring position, and we didn’t do that today.”
The Bruins cushioned their lead to 6-1 by scoring three times in the fifth. A two-run triple to the gap in left center by Bryan Heward and a sacrifice fly by Goold extended the lead.
Glover’s second hit, a double to right field, chased home Cole Ferguson for the Wildcats’ second run. Spenser Dorsey’s groundout to short scored Crunkilton to make the score 6-3.
In the sixth, WNC put its first runner on base since the third inning when Becker walked on four pitches. Becker stole second base, but Salt Lake first baseman Sam Goold leaped high to rob AJ Hernandez of an extra-base hit and keep the shutout alive.
Bronson Anderson relieved Nelson in the seventh and was greeted with Baker’s second double of the game. But Anderson retired the next three Wildcats, and Baker was stranded on third.
“We knew that we were going to have to try and get guys on base and just go one guy at a time, 90 feet at a time, base by base, just to score runs,” Becker said. “That was what our goal was, and it just wasn’t happening for us today.”
“Their guys outcompeted us,” Whittemore said. “I felt their guys were ready to play, and our guys weren’t ready to play. You can’t afford to do that in the Scenic West.”
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