GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- Western Nevada College baseball team had more hits and led for more innings, but couldn't pull off the win Saturday in the first round of the JUCO World Series, falling just short of top-ranked Howard College, 4-3.
Howard College (Big Spring, Texas) only led once, however, a leadoff home run by Runey Davis in the 11th inning was the game-winner.
WNC enjoyed a 15-5 advantage in the hit column, but it wasn't enough for the Wildcats (45-13) against Howard (59-1), the No. 1 ranked team in the NJCAA national poll. Never mind the rankings or win-loss record, the Wildcats left Carson City this week with victory in mind.
Sophomore catcher Jerome Pena hit 3-for-6 with all three of his team's RBI, including a two-run single in the third inning that gave WNC a 2-0 lead and a run-scoring infield single in the fifth that provided a 3-2 lead. He has signed to play at TCU next year.
Brian Barnett went 4-for-6, Travis Feiner 2-for-6 with a double, Mike Long 2-for-5 and Eric Maupin 2-for-5 to aid WNC offensively.
Feiner's defense at third kept WNC in the game in the 10th inning when he came up with a diving catch of a suicide squeeze attempt that resulted in an inning-ending double play.
Jordan Lewis started on the mound for WNC and worked four-plus innings before giving way to Scenic West Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year Kramer Champlin in the fifth. Champlin held the Hawks hitless and scoreless before giving way in the eighth inning to Josh Moody, who rang up a strikeout with a runner on third and one out, then Kyle Starratt came on to retire the side on a pop foul to Pena behind the plate.
WNC returns to action Sunday morning to play at 10 a.m. (Mountain time) against the loser of Saturday afternoon's game between Iowa Western Community College and Shelton State Community College.