March 28, 2014

Wildcats Take Second Game Against College of Southern Idaho

Fife, Harber Orchestrate WNC's Doubleheader Split

WNCs Christian Stolo pitches against College of Southern Idaho on Friday.
WNC's Christian Stolo pitches against College of Southern Idaho on Friday.

Through 13 innings of a Scenic West Athletic Conference baseball doubleheader on Friday, College of Southern Idaho denied Western Nevada College from putting a crooked number on the scoreboard. But with one swing by Alex Fife that changed as his homer brought in three runs, helping the Wildcats to a doubleheader split.

Fife’s homer was part of a four-run seventh inning that snapped a 1-1 tie and propelled the Wildcats to a 5-1 victory at John L. Harvey Field in Carson CIty. The Golden Eagles won the opener 6-2 behind the pitching of southpaw Kolton Brost.

The split kept the Wildcats (8-6) in second place in the SWAC. Third-place CSI is 7-7.
Conor Harber (4-0) picked up the victory with 2 2/3 innings of overpowering relief of starter Max Karnos. Harber fanned six Golden Eagles and allowed just one hit.

Karnos, attempting to become the staff leader in wins, gave up five hits and one earned run in 6 1/3 innings.

CSI starting pitcher Grant Kukuk (1-2), a Reno High graduate, permitted just one Wildcat baserunner in the first two innings.

But sophomore Tony Roque jump-started the Wildcat offense in the third with a double to left-center. Connor Klein’s groundout to the right side moved Roque to third base. Roque came home on Christian Stolo’s sacrifice fly, giving WNC a 1-0 lead.

Roque finished with two doubles, a run scored and a RBI. Joey Crunkilton was 2 for 3, including a double.

Brost didn’t start on the mound for the College of Southern Idaho in its first 34 games, but he performed like a No. 1 starter in the opener. In his first start, Brost limited WNC to four hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings as CSI recorded the road win.

After surrendering two hits and a run in the first inning, Brost didn’t give up another Wildcat until the sixth.

“We had a bunch of strikeouts and didn’t have good at-bats,” said WNC coach D.J. Whittemore. “CSI is a good team, and we’re going to have a good battle the rest of the series.”

Rayne Raven’s sacrifice fly plated Harber with the game’s first run in the opening frame. Harber hit a one-out single to right and made it to third base on Crunkilton’s double to left.
But Brost (6-1), whose 13 previous appearances this season came in relief, frustrated the Wildcats until the sixth inning.

“That guy is their best pitcher and we had a lot of lefties in our lineup,” Crunkilton said. “If you missed that first pitch, it was kind of hard because he has good secondary stuff.”

Sophomore left-hander Stolo (3-3) started well for the Wildcats, blanking the Golden Eagles through the first three innings.

Stolo, however, didn’t get away with issuing a leadoff walk for the second successive inning in the fourth. After walking Skyler Souza to open the inning, Nathan Ackerman doubled down the left-field line, advancing Souza to third base. Lincoln Rivera put a ball in the play to the right side of the infield, enabling Souza to score the tying run. Brodie Cooper followed with a double into the gap in right-center field, pushing the Golden Eagles in front to stay, 2-1.

CSI ended Stolo’s afternoon in the fifth with four straight hits. After Stolo fanned leadoff man Preston Young, Isaac Anderson doubled to left and moved to third on pinch-hitter R.J. Bush’s base hit to left field. Souza beat out a bunt to the right side, scoring Anderson to up CSI’s lead to 3-1. Ackerman followed with a single to left field that got past Crunkilton, allowing Bush and Souza to cross the plate for a 5-1 CSI advantage.

Stolo’s pitching line for 4 2/3 innings work included seven strikeouts and four walks. He gave up four earned runs on six hits.

The Golden Eagles (18-18) added a run in the sixth, increasing their lead to 6-1.

WNC (23-11), however, attempted to rally with two outs in the sixth, forcing CSI skipper Boomer Walker to go to his bullpen. Crunkilton started the rally with a one-out single to center field. After Raven flied out, Sam Hall belted a double to the fence in center, scoring Crunkilton and ending Brost’s performance. Pinch-hitter Fife greeted reliever Mason Hilty with a base hit to left, but outfielder Jordan Godman retrieved the hit quickly, keeping Hall from scoring. Hilty stranded the two Wildcats on base when he got Klein to pop up to shortstop Bobby Wright.

Hilty breezed through the seventh, striking out two of the three Wildcats he faced.

Weather allowing, the teams will play a doubleheader starting at noon Saturday. The contingency plan is to play a twin bill on Sunday.

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