March 20, 2008

Wildcats Heading Home for Openers This Weekend

The Western Nevada Wildcats' opening home games will be this Friday and Saturday, March 21 and 22, against Colorado Northwestern Community College at John L. Harvey Field on the WNC campus. Doubleheaders begin at noon each day.

"After playing eight consecutive weekends on the road we are thrilled to play in front of the Carson City faithful," Coach D. J. Whittemore said. "We get to sit in our own dugout and sleep in our own beds. This is the start of the second half of the season for us. And the last two years we've been fortunate enough to play the best baseball in the second half of the year. We'll find out if this team has the same makeup as the past two championship teams have had."

The prospect of playing at home never seemed so inviting to the Western Nevada Wildcats, especially after playing their first 25 games on the road in pre-season and Scenic West games. The 'cats had a rough road trip last weekend, losing three of four to conference leader Salt Lake Community College.

The Wildcats tagged the previously unbeaten Salt Lake Bruins with their first league loss in the second game of Friday's twin bill. WNC freshman pitcher Kyle Starratt allowed only three hits and struck out nine in beating Salt Lake 6-1. A five-run fifth inning was all the help Starratt needed, with the game winner a three-run double by Carson High graduate Logan Parsley. Freshmen Travis Feiner and Davis Banks each had an RBI.

In a close first game, an error led to the run that made the difference in a 3- 2 loss to the Bruins. Reliever Jose Barajas took the loss. Sacrifice flies by Cliff Shepard and Lance Ray provided the Wildcat scores.

The tough luck continued Saturday, as WNC lost a 2-1 game and battled snow and cold in a 9-0 loss in the second.

Whittemore saw bright spots in the road trip. "I thought our pitching staff responded to the challenge we gave them this week, throwing more strikes. We had our lowest walk total of the three conference weekends, which was nice to see.

"All four starters did a really nice job and kept us in the games. The bullpen was really where we had our struggles and we're still looking for two or three or four guys who can get outs consistently.

"Offensively, we really struggled," the coach said. "Give a lot of credit to their pitching staff, they really challenged our hitters, and the seven guys behind the pitcher played exceptionally well. Their outfielders took away extra base hits in every game. We lost a close series to a good team on the road. Nothing has changed for us; we're going to try to get better and start looking for some ways to win close games.

SLCC still lives at the top of the Scenic West Conference at 11-1 while the Wildcats are 5-7 in league and 11-14 overall.

WNC starter Josh Moody pitched well in the first game Saturday, allowing only two runs and seven hits over six innings. Errors made the difference, with Western missing a tag in a run-down in the second inning and allowing another run in the sixth after a runner reached on a Wildcat mistake and scored on a base hit.

A snow-shortened second game was delayed in the third inning for 90 minutes and then completed amid snow flurries. The Wildcats lost 9-0 in six innings. Jordon Blanchard took the loss.


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