Season-opening victories are the norm for the Western Nevada College baseball team. But that wasnâ€™t the case on Friday as the Wildcats launched their 2014 season against South Mountain in Phoenix.
Passed balls, baserunning errors and ineffective pitching added up to an 8-5 Wildcat defeat to the Cougars. It marked only the third time in the programâ€™s nine seasons that the Wildcats lost their season opener.
South Mountain made it two straight against the Wildcats on Saturday, holding off the visitors 6-3.
On Friday, WNC outhit the Cougars 13-9 but couldnâ€™t dig out from a 5-1 deficit after three innings. Rayne Raven and Joey Crunkilton led the Wildcats with three hits apiece, while Connor Klein and Kody Reynolds collected two hits.
Freshman outfielder Corey Pool belted the Wildcatsâ€™ first homer of the season.
Sophomore Spencer Greer started on the mound for the Wildcats, giving up five runs in three innings. He struck out four.
WNCâ€™s Sam Hall was thrown out at the plate in the fourth inning on Alex Fifeâ€™s base hit but got a couple of runs back in the fifth. A swinging bunt by Klein scored Reynolds with the bases loaded and nobody out, then Crunkiltonâ€™s groundout scored Austin Andrews to make the score 5-3.
South Mountain regained a four-run lead against WNCâ€™s bullpen before the Wildcats scored single runs in the seventh and innings to make it close.
In Saturdayâ€™s defeat, Wildcat starting pitcher Christian Stolo allowed two runs through four innings before giving up a pair of RBI doubles in his final inning of work, the fifth.
Lefty Clay Miller limited the Wildcats to one hit through five innings to earn the win.
Crunkiltonâ€™s RBI double scored Jake Bennett to slice the Cougarsâ€™ lead to 5-2 n the eighth.
After the Cougars scored a run in the eighth to go ahead 6-2, the Wildcats threatened in the ninth. Walks to Klein and Brandon Lapointe started the rally. After a strikeout, Hall was hit by a pitch to fill the bases. Andrewsâ€™ fielderâ€™s choice scored Klein, making the score 6-3. A walk to Bennett loaded the bases but Ravenâ€™s force out ended the game.
WNC finished with four hits and left eight runners on base.
The teams wrap up their series on Sunday afternoon.