Western Nevada College's Wildcats baseball team sits atop first place in Scenic West Athletic Conference play after sweeping Salt Lake Community College in four games this weekend in Salt Lake City.
The ‘cats are now 13-3 in the SWAC and 19-9 overall, leading cross-state rival College of Southern Nevada by one game (12-4, 20-12).
"I don’t know yet if we are as good as our record would suggest,” Coach DJ Whittemore said today. “We have been fortunate to win a few of the games each of the past three weekends. I am proud of our guys for finding ways to win - especially close games and extra inning games. I think some of the success comes from good chemistry."
On Friday and Saturday, Western opens home play at John L. Harvey field in Carson City. The Wildcats host Colorado Northwestern as part of an extended home stand running through April 25.
"We are excited to get to play in front of the home crowd this weekend and the weather looks to be outstanding,” Whittemore said. "We want to show the local crowd what we can do and look forward to seeing a large crowd root us on and try to stay in first place in the conference race.”
Dominating pitching ruled Friday as Jordan Lewis struck out 11 batters and gave up just two hits in cruising to a 4-0 victory in seven innings. It was his first collegiate shutout, supported by RBIs from Lance Ray, Travis Feiner and Mike Long.
Western scored three runs in the second with hits by Feiner and Long, assisted by two Bruin errors. Long scored in the fifth on an RBI by Ray.
In the second game, the ‘cats were staked to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and never trailed in a 6-2 victory. Pitcher Kyle Starratt was credited with the win, giving up one hit and two runs, and striking out four in 4.2 innings. Kramer Champlin pitched 4.1 innings without giving up a run.
Western seems to have shaken off the defensive lapses that hurt them early in the season. The Wildcats walked only one batter in the two games and had no errors.
Saturday, the Wildcats withstood two close contests, winning 5-4 in regulation and 8-6 in 11 innings. In the first game, pitcher David Carroll picked up the win on five hits, three walks and three strikeouts. Rusty Devitt got the save in 1.2 innings and was able to shut the door on the Bruins who had scored two runs and loaded the bases in the sixth.
The second game was a battle all the way, with Salt Lake taking a 5-3 lead in the sixth. Western tied the game in the seventh when catcher Jerome Pena scored on a Ray double and Long sacrificed to bring home McQueen product Brian Barnett.
In the tenth, Cory Raymond tripled to bring home Marshall Kennebrew, but Salt Lake kept up the pressure by scoring a run of its own.
Brian Barnett got the scoring going in the decisive eleventh inning by singling, stealing second and advancing to third on an error. Jay Skilton also singled and he and Barnett scored on a Daniel Zylstra single. The Bruins were held scoreless in the bottom half of the inning, and the final was 8-6.
Jake Waardenburg started the game and gave up three runs in 4.1 innings. Josh Moody, returning from an injury, gave up one run in two innings and got the win, with Andrew Garcia earning a save in one inning of scoreless relief.
"We are going to continue to work hard in practice, do the right thing in the classroom and off the field, and hope the good luck keeps following us around," Coach Whittemore said.