March 25, 2008

Wildcats Baseball Team Excels

WNC Sweeps Weekend Series at Home

Kyle Starratt dominated at the mound in the first game.
Kyle Starratt dominated at the mound in the first game.

After playing all of its pre-season and league games on the road this year, the Western Nevada Wildcats showed the home crowd what it could do, capturing a four game sweep of Colorado Northwestern Community College on Friday and Saturday.

"This weekend the pitching, hitting and defense were all going for us, and we hope to continue that," Coach D. J. Whittemore said today. "Sweeping a team in college baseball is hard to do; I'm proud of the effort and they way they played. It's a nice reward for a hard week of practices."

Kyle Starratt, with relief help from Josh Moody, won the home opener 5-3 at John L. Harvey Field. The 'cats took the nightcap 10-0 in a scheduled nine-inning game that was called in the bottom of the sixth inning due to the ten-run rule.

Western got on the board early in the first game, facing one of CNCC's top pitchers, Cory Downham. Western scored two in the first inning and two in the second and got all the runs it needed in the fourth when Davis Banks doubled and scored on an error. A homer by Brian Barnett and key hits by Logan Parsley, Jerome Pena and Chuck Howard led the offense.

The Wildcats didn't waste any time in the second game, either. Banks again swung a big bat when he hit an RBI single and Howard smacked a two run triple in the second inning. It was more of the same in the third as WNC cruised to a 7-0 lead on Banks' two run double and Kevin Schlange's RBI single.

Logan Odom ended the game in the sixth with an RBI single that made the score 10-0. Josh Moody got credit for the win.

On Saturday the Wildcats won a pair of one run games, 4-3 and 3-2. The four game sweep helped the Wildcats in their Scenic West race, improving their record to 9-7. It's likely to be a season-long chase with conference leader Salt Lake Community College currently at 13-3. College of Southern Nevada is in second place and WNC is tied for third with College of Southern Idaho.

Timely hits and good pitching made the difference in Saturday's games. CNCC led 3-1 through the first four innings, but Jerome Pena's home in the fifth inning tied the game at 3 and WNC grabbed the lead in the sixth on consecutive doubles by Lance Ray and Logan Parsley. Relief pitcher Jose Barajas held the Spartans at bay by allowing only one hit while striking out three and giving up no runs.

Pitcher Jordon Blanchard had good command in the second game, winning 3-2. WNC took a 1-0 lead in the first on an error, and third baseman Travis Feiner hit an RBI double to continue the scoring. Kyle Gutchewsky had a sacrifice fly to put the Wildcats in the driver's seat with a 3-0 lead in the third.

The Spartans threatened in the sixth, closing the gap to 3-2. But Javy Perez retired the side in order in the seventh to pick up the save.

"I think we're coming together as a team; starting to understand what it takes to win," Whittemore said. "I'm really looking forward to a strong finish similar to the past couple of years."

Two years ago the Wildcats had an 11-game winning streak to earn the conference championship, and last year the team had a 10-game winning streak in the post-season.

After playing its first 25 games on the road and one series at home, Western again will don its well-worn traveling shoes to play at Price, Utah in a four-game series against the College of Eastern Utah on Friday and Saturday.

After that, the Wildcats have critical home stands against teams they have to beat for the title: College of Southern Nevada, College of Southern Idaho and Salt Lake.

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