WNC Moves Within Game of Second Place in SWAC
Finding ways to win when losing looks inevitable was a quality Western Nevada College emphasized in pulling off a doubleheader sweep of Colorado Northwestern on Sunday at John L. Harvey Field in Carson City.
Twice, the Wildcats were down to their final out before rallying for a 5-4 baseball victory in 12 innings on clutch hits by Cole Ferguson, Tyler Baker and Connor Klein. WNC rode the right-handed arm of Luke Eubank to win the second game 5-1 and even its Scenic West Athletic Conference record at 6-6.
The Spartans were one strike away from winning the opening game, but Ferguson stroked a double and scored the tying run on Baker’s single in the seventh inning.
“Those kinds of clutch at-bats provide confidence for the whole season for those players,” said WNC coach D.J. Whittemore. “I think it shows they have confidence in their preparation and their ability.”
Colorado Northwestern regained the lead at 4-3 in the top of the ninth inning and was within an out of earning its second conference victory before Ferguson’s drove home Donald Glover Jr., who had started the comeback with a double.
After the Wildcats stranded baserunners on first and second bases in the 11th, they were able to finish off the Spartans in the 12th. Alex Fife reached base on a one-out infield hit and advanced to second when the throw wound up in the dugout. Following a walk and strikeout, Klein delivered the game-winner with a base hit to right-center field to score Fife.
“We always expect to have nine guys in the lineup capable of winning the game,” Whittemore said. “If you look back over the years, this has always been a strength on our teams. The credit goes to our sophomore leaders for creating an atmosphere where there are no egos. Everybody is a leader, sort of like the Patriots.
“Coach (Aaron) ‘Demo’ deserves some credit, too, because he works with every hitter on the roster as if he was the 3 hitter, redshirts, reserves, starters, everybody gets the same VIP treatment.”
It was the Wildcats’ longest game of the season, spanning more than 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Spencer Greer (2-1), the fifth pitcher for WNC, struck out the side in the final inning to earn the victory. Starter Christian Stolo, who no-hit the Spartans in February, gave up seven hits and three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings and struck out eight.
The Spartans weren’t very successful against the Wildcats’ bullpen, scoring just one run in 6 2/3 innings. Evan Parker threw three innings of three-hit ball while fanning four and was followed by the scoreless relief of Austin Richmond, Tyler Bennett and Greer.
Ferguson and Baker topped a 14-hit attack with three hits apiece. Fife had two hits and scored twice.
Game two was the exact opposite of the opener as Eubank outdueled Wyndham Williams in a series finale that was decided in a little more than 90 minutes.
Eubank only faced 27 batters in the seven-inning compete game, surrendering four hits while striking out three.
“Luke was tremendous,” Whittemore said. “He battled through an extremely difficult first inning in which there was an error and infield single, and he limited the damage and then cruised the rest of the way.
“He throws a lot of strikes and really trusted his fastball more than ever and got a bunch of weak outs with it.”
Eubank (1-2) ran into some trouble in the sixth when the Spartans started the inning with back-to-back singles. But he struck out Derek Quinn on a 10-pitch at-bat, then Ferguson picked off Travis Mitchell between second and third base and Klein’s backhanded stop of Michael McGovern’s sharp grounder and unassisted force out ended the threat.
Eubank completed the four-hitter with a 1-2-3 seventh.
The Wildcats scored two runs in each of the first two innings to give Eubank all the run support he needed. Baker moved from the ninth spot in the batting order to the leadoff position and didn’t blink an eye, going 3 for 3 with two runs scored.
Baker raised his batting average 168 points in the four games, starting the weekend at .154 and ending the weekend at .322. The freshman was 12 of 14 in the four-game series.
Glover Jr. was 2 for 3 with two runs scored, and Matt Becker had a pair of bunt singles and knocked in a run.
WNC moved within a game of second-place Salt Lake and CSI in the SWAC standings and improved to 18-10 overall.
“We know that it is a long season and that every game counts the same,” Whittemore said. “We are excited that a great week of work paid big dividends on the weekend. Our players are working very hard, and we know that at some point it is going to pay off.”
The Wildcats will play host to Mount Hood Community College of Portland, Ore., on Friday and Saturday in a four-game nonconference series.
SWAC Baseball Standings
Through Sunday, March 10
Team W L
College of Southern Nevada 7 1
Salt Lake 7 5
College of Southern Idaho 5 3
Western Nevada College 6 6
Colorado Northwestern 1 11
|Photos (Click to Enlarge)|
|WNC freshman Christian Stolo pitches against CNCC on Sunday.||WNC infielder Jack Hall lines up a ground ball against CNCC on Sunday.||WNC second baseman Tyler Baker executes a force out against CNCC on Sunday.|
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