April 18, 2008

Wildcats now one game from first place tie

WNC Sweeps League Leader Salt Lake

A wild and windy weekend at John L. Harvey Field turned into a celebration for the Western Nevada College baseball team as the Wildcats swept a four-game series against Salt Lake Community College and moved to within one game of the league leaders.

The Wildcats (22-10 conference) bat-tened down the hatches on a blustery Saturday to capture the doubleheader 1-0 and 10-8. On Friday, they endured a marathon, outlasting the Bruins 7-6 in a 15-inning, four-hour nightcap, following a 7-4 victory in the first game of the doubleheader.

On Saturday, WNC's Kyle Farrell pitched a complete game and catcher Chuck Howard hit an RBI single for the only score in the opener.

The nightcap was a hard-fought battle, with Western jumping quickly to a 5-0 lead in the first inning off doubles by Travis Feiner and Davis Banks, and singles by Howard and Logan Parsley. In the second, Salt Lake put one on the board, but Wildcats designated hitter Marshall Kennebrew made the lead 7-1 with a two-run single.

Salt Lake added two runs in the third inning, but Feiner answered with a home run to make it 8-3 for the 'cats. The Bruins rallied for four runs in the fourth inning, but Kennebrew answered with a home run for a 9-7 advantage. In the fifth, Brian Barnett hit an RBI single for a 10-7 lead, and Salt Lake managed a single run in the seventh inning before the Wildcats shut them down.

Friday's amazing finish ended six and a half hours of baseball and gave the Wildcats momentum for Saturday's doubleheader. In game one, the Wildcats garnered 12 hits, including a two-run homer in the first inning by first baseman Lance Ray, and a solo home run by Barnett in the fifth.

Winning pitcher Josh Moody finished six innings against the Bruins before closer Jose Barajas shut them down in the seventh.

Salt Lake led 3-2 in the second inning before Howard tied the score on a double by Cliff Shepard. Western added two in the bottom of the fifth with Barnett's homer and a double by Kennebrew that brought Ray home, to lead 5-3. 

The Bruins scored one in the top of the sixth inning on a double to centerfield to pull within one, but the sixth inning belonged to Western. The 'cats scored two insurance runs on three hits by Kyle Gutchewsky, Barnett and Ray.

But it was the second game, which lasted more than four hours, that was a roller coaster ride of pitching duels and runners left on base. Starting pitcher Kyle Starratt started strong as Western built a 4-1 lead in the first two innings, but struggled in the third inning, allowing four runs for a 5-4 Salt Lake lead.

Andrew Reid relieved midway through the fifth inning, and held the Bruins scoreless until his departure in the eighth inning, when Josh Creveling stepped in.

What looked to be a closing role turned into a day's work, seven innings of hardnosed pitching by Creveling to hold the Bruins scoreless. WNC had at least three chances to put the game away in the late innings, but solid Salt Lake fielding kept the victory at bay until the bottom of the 15th inning. Finally, the Bruins showed signs of fatigue, loading the bases with walks, and Ray raced home for the final score.


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