May 18, 2013

Teams Will Resume Weather-Suspended Final Game at 3 p.m. Sunday

Wildcats Force Deciding Game at Western District Tournament

Conor Harber rounds the bases after a homer.
Conor Harber rounds the bases after a homer.

D.J. Whittemore said it wouldn’t be easy for Cochise College to apply the knockout punch to his club in the Western District baseball championship.

The eighth-year Western Nevada College baseball coach proved to be prophetic as the Wildcats rallied from a two-run deficit Saturday to win 5-4 and force a deciding game in Sterling, Colo.

Weather issues, including nearby lightning strikes, prompted umpires to remove the teams from the field in the fourth inning of the final game. The teams were to resume action at 11 a.m. PST Sunday with WNC leading 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning, but additional rainfall has moved the game back to 3 p.m.

“It was a great effort,” Whittemore said. “We’re excited to be in a place where we have a chance to win it. They believe in themselves.”

The winner of the suspended game will advance to next week’s National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.

In Saturday’s opening game, Conor Harber knocked in three runs, including two with a home run, and right-handed pitcher Cody Hamlin threw six scoreless innings of relief after checking into a local emergency room the night before.

Trailing 4-2 in the fifth inning, Joseph Crunkilton socked a one-out double to right-center field. Harber followed with a double to left to score Crunkilton. After a Connor Klein’s groundout moved Harber to third base, Mike Umscheid provided a game-tying RBI base hit up the middle.

The score remained tied until the seventh, when the Wildcats put together a game-deciding two-out rally.

Harber started the rally with his third hit of the game. With Harber running with a pitch, he was able to advance to third base on Klein’s single. Next, Umscheid, a sophomore, came through again with an RBI single to score Harber for a 5-4 WNC lead, the Wildcats’ first time in front since Harber’s two-run blast in the first inning.

“Our sophomores have won 92 games over the past two seasons. They are a good bunch,” Whittemore said. “The whole team plays well together.”

Hamlin (10-2) took it from there, keeping the Apaches off the scoreboard after they touched up Austin Richmond for five runs in the first three innings.

“We’re glad to have Cody back,” said Whittemore, who accompanied Hamlin to the emergency room on Friday evening to address his flu-like symptoms.

Harber and Umscheid each collected three hits and combined to knock in all five Wildcat runs, while Klein and Crunkilton knocked out two hits.

Before the weather turned sour in the second game, Tony Roque put WNC ahead with a three-run double in the second inning. Prior to Roque’s bases-clearing hit, Klein connected for the first hit off Cochise starting pitcher Kevin Durantes. Durantes then had trouble finding the plate, walking Donald Glover Jr. and AJ Hernandez to set up Roque for three RBI.

Cochise, however, battled back to score twice in the third inning on only one hit. WNC pitcher Tyler Bennett also struggled with his command, waking two batters in the inning.

Durantes prevented the Wildcats (44-19) from recouping a run in the fourth after Umscheid doubled to lead off the inning. Umscheid still was standing on second base when the rally ended three batters later.

The Apaches (48-17) put the first two hitters on base in the bottom of the inning before lightning was spotted in the area, suspending the action for the remainder of the day.

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Photo Gallery
Photos (Click to Enlarge)
Tony Roque turns two. Alex Fife connects. Cody Hamlin deals.
Tony Roque turns two.Alex Fife connects.Cody Hamlin deals.
Connor Klein dives into third base. Austin Richmond comes up throwing after fielding a bunt.  
Connor Klein dives into third base.Austin Richmond comes up throwing after fielding a bunt.  
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