The Western Nevada College baseball team turned two tight contests into victories with walk-off home runs on both ends of a doubleheader Friday afternoon. The Wildcats won 6-5 and 9-6 over Mount Hood Community College of Oregon. The series continues Saturday with a doubleheader at
John L. Harvey Field beginning at noon.
In the opener, the Wildcats scored five runs on four hits for the win. Rayne Raven broke a 5-5 tie with a home run in the bottom of the tenth inning to seal the victory. In the nightcap, Joey Crunkilton drilled a three-run home run over the scoreboard to end a back and forth battle for the win.
â€œI was really frustrated about the way I was playing, so when I came up (to bat, I told myself I was going to get a home run,â€ Raven said.
Crunkleton said, â€œI just wanted to get a pitch. I was waiting for a fastball.â€
Starting pitcher Christian Stolo allowed only one run over eight innings in the opener. â€œHe pitched a great game,â€ said WNC coach DJ Whittemore.
Closer Spencer Greer struggled on the mound before holding on for the win. The Saints scored four runs on four hits to tie the game 5-5 and force extra innings. They then held the Wildcats scoreless in the ninth inning. Greer struck out one to lead off the tenth inning, and the Wildcats defense held to end the inning. WNC was down to its last out in the bottom of the inning when Ravenâ€™s hit soared to guarantee the win.
The nightcap was akin to a prizefight with both teams jockeying for an edge throughout the contest. After two scoreless innings, the Saints took a 3-0 lead on two RBI to left field. They added a fourth score in the top of the fifth on a wild WNC pitch. The Wildcats answered in the fifth inning when Tony Roque reached on a Saints error and Kody Reynolds hit an RBI double, narrowing the gap to 4-2. But Mount Hood broke open the lead with an RBI in the fifth and sixth inning and a 6-2 lead.
WNC starting pitcher Max Karnos gave way to freshman right-hander Connor Zwetsch in the sixth inning, when Karnos was hit by a ball. Zwetschâ€™s contribution turned out to be one of the keys to the victory.
The Wildcats scored four runs on three hits in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the contest 6-6, led by Jake Bennett, who hit 1 of 3, and scored two runs.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Zwetsch struck out the side, sending the Wildcats back to the plate. There, Stolo walked, Bennett was hit by a bat, Raven was hit by a pitch, and Klein advanced runners with a bunt effort. The scene was set for what would finish the job – a three-run walk-off home run by Crunkilton that drilled over right-center field to end the game.
Zwetsch was the winning pitcher.
WNC Coach DJ Whittemore said afterward that he was happy to see his team play hard against a good team. â€œItâ€™s nice to win tight games,â€ he said. â€œThey are well coached. It gives us confidence going into conference play.â€