April 29, 2008

Final Baseball Home Series This Weekend

Wildcats Take Three of Four in Colorado

It all comes down to the final weekend of baseball for the Scenic West Athletic Conference, and Western Nevada College finds itself one game out of first place and owning tiebreakers over its nearest baseball rivals.

After winning three out of four games this weekend at Colorado Northwestern Community College, the 'cats (25-11) are looking forward to their final home stand in Carson City where they play College of Eastern Utah on Friday and Saturday (May 2-3). Cross-state rival and conference leader College of Southern Nevada (26-10) travels to College of Southern Idaho. The regular season winner will host the conference tournament, and both the first and second place teams have a first round bye.

"We're disappointed that we lost a chance to head into the last weekend tied for the lead, but we feel we are playing our best baseball at the right time of the year," Coach DJ Whittemore said. "We've won 20 out of our last 24 games; we're confident we're moving in the right direction as the regional tournament looms."

The Wildcats dominated the opening game 10-1 and took the second 4-2 Friday against the Spartans.

WNC's ace Kyle Starratt pitched his usual strong game on Friday, and the Wildcats blew the game open in the last three innings by scoring eight runs, after leading 2-1 through four innings.

The Wildcats bullpen also performed, with Javy Perez finishing the game by retiring the Spartans in order, striking out two batters. As it turned out, Travis Feiner's two-run double in the second gave the 'cats all the firepower they would need. Brian Barnett had a hot bat, with a three-run homer and a solo blast.

In the second game, Josh Moody showed his toughness in a close game, going eight innings in a 4-2 victory. Moody scattered five hits and struck out six in the effort. Jose Barajas, who has been strong in relief all year, picked up a save by retiring the Spartans in order in the ninth.

As in the opener, Feiner's hitting made the difference. Feiner's two-run homer in the second put Western ahead 2-1, and in the fourth he doubled and scored on an error. A sacrifice by Lance Ray scored Kyle Gutchewsky in the sixth and made it 4-2, which was the final. Several Western batters were on fire Friday. Feiner went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a homer. Gutchewsky was 2-for-4 and Cliff Shepard was 3-for-4.

Some of Friday's hot hitting could have been used Saturday as the Wildcats split one-run games, losing 2-1 in the first and winning 3-2 in the nightcap.

"It's a shame to waste one of our good starts from our pitching staff; they gave us a chance to win all four games," Whittemore said. "On Saturday we didn't come out with the same offensive approach as Friday. We'll work hard all week in practice to improve our consistency, and I expect our hitters will respond well."

Although Western had runners on base and a chance to tie or win in the first game, the timely hits didn't come, spoiling a strong effort by Kyle Farrell who struck out eight, walked one and allowed four hits in 5 2/3 innings.

In the second game, Logan Parsley doubled and came home on an error to break open a 2-2 tie. Jordon Blanchard started the game for Western and Josh Creveling retired all six batters he faced for his second win of the season.

Whittemore said he's hoping for a good fan turnout for games this weekend. "Saturday is sophomore day and our eight sophomores deserve some support. They took us to the World Series last year and we're a game out of first this year. They deserve a good crowd and a round of applause. We'll have a ceremony before the start of our second game at approximately 2:30 p.m."

WNC ends the regular season against College of Eastern Utah (7-29) at John L. Harvey Field on the Carson City campus. Friday and Saturday oubleheaders begin at noon. The conference championship will be played May 7-10, at the site of the league winner.


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