May 25, 2009

WNC earns possible rematch

Hitting and Moving On!

Superior Pitching prevails
Superior Pitching prevails

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- All nine starters contributed to a 15-hit attack that helped lead Western Nevada College to an 11-6 victory against Middle Georgia at the JUCO World Series on Monday.

What doesn't show up in the box score, however, is the defensive effort that matched those hits as the Wildcats (47-13) won their second straight elimination game to stay alive in the double elimination tournament at Suplizio Field. WNC plays again Tuesday at 3 p.m. against the loser of a game between Howard College and Shelton State (played later on Monday night).

Mike Stiles, Lance Ray, Brian Barnett, Mike Long, Jerome Pena and Daniel Zylstra had two hits each to lead WNC's offense. Eric Maupin and Ray hit solo home runs, Pena's two-run triple gave the Wildcats a 6-3 lead in the fifth inning and Barnett drove in two runs with a bases loaded double that made it 10-6 in the eighth.

Every one of those runs was needed against a potent Middle Georgia club that collected 14 hits and would have scored more if not for at least a half dozen sparkling defensive plays. In the end, reliever Jake Waardenburg came on with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning and retired the side on a low liner to Zylstra at shortstop.

"That might be as good a hitting lineup top to bottom as we've ever faced," WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said. "So to hold them to six runs feels real good."

Barnett set the tone in the top of the first inning. With a runner on second and two outs, Middle Georgia cleanup hitter T.J. Rich hit a long drive into the gap in left-center that Barnett ran down and caught to retire the side.

WNC scored twice in the bottom half of the inning when Stiles doubled and scored on Mike Long's ground ball out. Pena followed with an RBI single.

Maupin homered over the left field fence with one out in the second to give WNC a 3-0 lead. Middle Georgia tied the score in the fourth inning when Josh Purvis hit a three-run homer. The Wildcats came back to regain the lead with three runs in the fifth, highlighted by Long's RBI single and Pena's two-run triple into the gap in left-center.

The Wildcats never trailed again, but there was no lack for drama.

Long's diving catch of Shawn Payne's sinking line drive in center field retired the side with two runners aboard in the third inning. Payne, the dangerous No. 3 hitter in Middle Georgia's lineup, stroked a low liner that Zylstra caught and doubled a runner off first base to end the fifth. Kramer Champlin, who came on in relief of starter Josh Moody in the sixth, made a barehand pickup of a slow roller down the third base line and threw a strike to Maupin at first base to retire the side with two runners in scoring position.

Middle Georgia scored twice to pull to within 8-6 in the eighth inning, and the Warriors were threatening to do more damage before Champlin, the Scenic West Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year, retired the side on two strikeouts and a comebacker.

In the bottom half of the inning, Jay Skilton drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second when Stiles laid down a sacrifice bunt. Ray, who had homered over the center field fence in the seventh, was walked intentionally to put runners on first and second. Barnett capitalized on the situation as he drilled a line drive double to center field, bringing both runners home. Barnett later scored on a throwing error to make it 11-6.

"We've got hitters everywhere," said Ray. "You can't just pitch around our guys. Everybody picks everybody up. That's what's good about our team."

Middle Georgia loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth before Waardenburg came on to slam the door shut and earn his first save of the season.

"Junior College World Series, bases loaded, two outs, yeah, I'd say that was a big situation," Waardenburg said. "Coach just told me to forget the runners, it was all about the batter."

Moody (6-0), who allowed four runs and seven hits over 5.1 innings earned credit for the win. The Arizona State-bound left-hander struck out three, walked one and hit one batter.


Photo Gallery
Photos (Click to Enlarge)
Maupin Homers in Game 2 WNC Baseball Coach DJ Whittemore meets the Howard College coach prior to Game 1.  
Maupin Homers in Game 2WNC Baseball Coach DJ Whittemore meets the Howard College coach prior to Game 1.  
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