Starting pitching stood out for the Western Nevada College baseball team in its annual Player World Series on Oct. 15-18 at John L. Harvey Field in Carson City.
Six of the Wildcatsâ€™ eight starting pitchers surrendered two runs or less in the four games of a series won by Team Lichty, 3-1.
â€œBoth coaches did a great job and both rosters competed reasonably well. Overall, it was as lopsided a series as I can remember watching,â€ said WNC skipper D.J. Whittemore.
Sophomore catcher Brandon Lapointe (Arbor View High School, Las Vegas) and freshman catcher Tim Lichty (Galena High School, Reno) managed the teams. Teams were formed through a player draft.
Freshman infielder Jeremy Peterson (Reno High School, Reno) was named the series most valuable player after collecting seven hits in the four games.
In one of the few times in recent history, the series didnâ€™t go the full five games.
Game 1 Summary
The most dramatic outcome in the series occurred in the opener when freshman first baseman Austin Garcia (Coronado High School, Henderson) belted a game-winning two-run homer with two outs in the final inning, giving Team Lapointe a 2-1 victory. Freshman left-hander Matt Young (Reno High School, Reno) kept Team Lichty hitters off-balance during his five-inning stint on the mound. Young fanned five and didnâ€™t allow a walk while not figuring in the decision.
Game 2 Summary
Team Lichty knotted the series behind the pitching of freshman Kyle Thompson (Graham Kapowsin High School, Graham, Wash.) and hitting of freshman outfielder Brad Lewis (Palo Verde High School, Las Vegas) and freshman catcher Gabe Farrer (Alta High School, Sandy, Utah).
Thompson picked up the 5-2 win by allowing just three hits and one run. Lewis provided two hits, including a double, for the winners, while Farrer was 2 for 2 with a two-bagger and a run batted in. For Team Lapointe, sophomore Austin Andrews (Wilson High School, Lake Oswego, Ore.) reached base three times. Freshman outfielder/pitcher DJ Peters (Glendora High School, Glendora, Calif.) picked up the save in relief for Team Lichty.
Game 3 Summary
Nothing went right for Team Lapointe in the pivotal third game that saw Team Lichty roll to a 15-1 win. Freshman right-hander Josh Mill (Rancho High School, Las Vegas) tossed five shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out five. Peterson touched up opposing pitchers for three hits and three runs scored. Freshman infielder David Modler (Rancho High School, Las Vegas) and Izac Bauer (Chief Stealth High School, Seattle) roughed up Team Lapointeâ€™s three pitchers as well. Modler reached base in all four of his plate appearances and scored three times, while Bauer went 3 for 3, with two of his hits good for two bases.
Game 4 Summary
Pitching was again the recipe for success for Team Lichty in a 5-1 triumph. With sophomore Max Karnos (South Anchorage High School, Anchorage, Alaska) throwing a one-hitter over five innings, Team Lichty closed out the series with its third straight win. Karnos didnâ€™t walk a batter while fanning five. Sophomore infielder Kody Reynolds (McQueen High School, Reno) delivered the offensive punch by going 2 for 4.
The Player World Series concluded the Wildcatsâ€™ fall scrimmage season, one that saw the Wildcats struggle with consistency, according to Whittemore.
“The young Wildcats team was very inconsistent in the fall. This trend continued throughout the World Series,â€ Whittemore said. â€œEverything that winning teams do was at times a struggle for us: throwing strikes, playing defense and getting the ball in play with two strikes.
â€œYoung players are capable of playing as well as anyone on any given day. … What makes players and or teams special is when they can play consistently well over a period of time, whether it be an entire weekend or a month or even longer.â€
Whittemore said the team is counting on its large freshman class to progress quickly so that the Wildcats can enjoy the success of past teams.
â€œThe mental preparedness, determination, focus and toughness required to play well in college against the top teams usually takes a year or more to learn. Unfortunately, this team doesnâ€™t have that luxury this year,â€ Whittemore said. â€œWhen you look back at the years passed, you can see how the sophomore class carries the team. With only eight returning players from last yearâ€™s team (only two started all season and four saw very limited action as role players or pitchers), this year is going to have to be different.”
WNC now has slightly more than three months to prepare for its season opener on Jan. 30 at South Mountain College, which eliminated the Wildcats from last yearâ€™s Western District Tournament.
â€œIt is going to be so gratifying to get to work to fix the problems and become better players and a better team so that in the spring we can have a chance to make our fourth consecutive appearance in the Western District Championship and hopefully make our fourth trip to Grand Junction (Colo),â€ Whittemore said.