Event Date

March 10, 2012

Sophomore nearly hits for cycle with 4-for-4 performance in sweep of Eastern Utah

Hendrix bids for WNC history

Zach Hendrix nearly made Western Nevada College baseball history on Saturday and wasn't even aware of nearly hitting for the cycle until afterward.

Hendrix stroked a triple, two doubles and a single, finishing only a homer shy of becoming WNC's first player to accomplish the feat in an 11-0 five-inning victory over College of Eastern Utah at John L. Harvey Field.

"It didn't cross my mind, but after I hit (the last double), people were saying you just had to have home run and you would have had it," Hendrix said. "It's not really that big of a deal. We all just come out and try to win each game, you know?"

WNC rallied to win the second game, completing the four-game sweep with a 11-4 victory over the Golden Eagles. The first-place Wildcats, who are ranked 15th by Perfect Game and 20th by the National Junior College Athletic Association, improved to 8-0 in the SWAC and 19-5 overall.

"I give a lot of credit to Eastern Utah for battling back. They don't have any quit in them," said WNC Coach D.J. Whittemore. "I'm really proud of our guys for playing every pitch and sticking with our approach."

Hendrix's bases-clearing double with one out in the fifth ended the conference game because of a 10-run mercy rule. The sophomore infielder from Puyallup, Wash., finished 4-4 with three extra-base hits and five RBI.

"It was a great day," Hendrix said. "I go up there every at-bat and just try focusing on having a good approach … get a good pitch to hit before two strikes and defend my butt off with the bat when I get two strikes."

As dominant as Hendrix was at the plate, WNC starting pitcher Dylan Baker matched him on the mound. In pitching a complete game, Baker faced only two hitters over the minimum, allowing two hits while fanning eight.

The 6-foot-3 right-hander Baker (5-0) entered the game with a 0.52 earned run average.

Western Nevada jumped on top in the second inning on a one-out double by Cole Ferguson over center fielder's Alex Church's head, reaching the fence on one hop. After walking AJ Hernandez and Dillon Ness to load the bases, Joe Barta escaped further damage with a groundout to first base.

Church recorded Eastern Utah's first hit off Baker to lead off the third inning. Church chopped a 1-2 pitch between Baker and third baseman by Hernandez, whose throw to first was late.

WNC stranded six base runners through three innings and Hendrix was tagged out at the plate on a ground ball to the right side of the infield in the third. Hendrix doubled to right to open the inning and was sacrificed to third by Taylor Smart.

The Wildcats again threatened in the fourth inning, loading the bases on two walks and a bunt single by Mike Umscheid. A force out by Ness chased home pinch-runner Philip Belding.

Barta's nemesis on this day, Hendrix, prevented the Golden Eagles lefty from escaping additional trouble. Hendrix belted his second extra-base hit of the day, a triple that just avoided the glove of Church. The three-bagger drove home Hernandez and Ness to make the score 4-0. A Barta wild pitch allowed Hendrix to score WNC's fourth run of the inning.

Barta ran into more trouble in trouble in the fifth, leading to his removal from the mound. Neil Lawhorn started WNC's game-ending rally with a two-base hit to left-center field. After a wild pitch, Rayne Raven's single to right field scored Lawhorn from third, ending Barta's start at 100 pitches.

The Wildcats didn't ease off the accelerator against relievers CynJon Longman and Skyler Thorpe. Three of the four hitters Longman faced reached base, as Umscheid hit an RBI single to center field and Ness doubled to left to score Umscheid to put WNC ahead 8-0. Thorpe walked his first batter, Derrick Pitts, to load the bases with Hendrix coming to bat. Hendrix wasted no time, slamming a Thorpe offering down the right-field line to plate Hernandez, Ness and Pitts.

In addition to Hendrix's four hits, Umscheid finished with two hits. Lawhorn, Ness and Hernandez each scored twice.

Western Nevada fell behind 2-0 in the second game. The Golden Eagles scratched out an unearned run in the first, then used four hits to go in front 2-0 in the second.

Wildcats starting pitcher Matt Robertson was removed by Whittemore with two outs and two baserunners aboard in the second inning. Reliever Anthony Consiglio extinguished the Golden Eagles rally by striking out Chance Abrath.

WNC got back a run in the second as Lawhorn doubled off the outstretched glove of Church in deep center. Hendrix, waiting to see if the ball would be caught, advanced to third on the extra-base hit and scored on Smart's groundout to short.

In the third, Church restored Eastern Utah's two-run lead, 3-1, with a two-out, RBI single to center field. However, for the third consecutive inning, the Golden Eagles left two runners on base.

WNC fought back in the third with Ferguson igniting a four-run rally with a standup double to the fence in left. Following a walk to Pitts with two outs, hot-hitting Hendrix singled up the middle to plate Ferguson and cut Eastern Utah's lead to 3-2. Raven was hit by a Cody Christofferson pitch to fill the sacks for Lawhorn, who slammed his second double of the game. The two-bagger over Church's head in center scored Pitts, Hendrix and Raven to give WNC its first lead, 5-3.

The Wildcats extended their advantage to 7-3 in the fifth on an RBI base hit by Raven and run-scoring groundout by Umscheid.

After a shaky start, WNC's defense sparkled in the sixth, when Eastern Utah missed a golden opportunity to close the gap. Third baseman Hernandez threw out Kye Raymond at the plate on Christoffersen's one-hopper, and catcher Ferguson " aided by a leaping grab and swiping tag by Hendrix " cut down Christoffersen trying to steal second base. The defensive gems proved to be critical as Abrath hit an RBI double later in the inning, and Belding wound up stranding two Golden Eagles on base.

Pitts put WNC ahead 9-4 in the bottom of the inning, lining a double to right to score Hernandez and Ness. Raven also connected for a two-run double off Anthony Gustin, pushing WNC ahead 11-4.

Consiglio picked up his first victory of the season, working 2 2/3 innings. He surrendered one unearned run on two hits while striking out three. Belding, the Wildcats' third hurler, pitched a 1-2-3 fifth before running into trouble in the sixth.

Lawhorn was 3-4 with two doubles and three RBI. Raven added two hits, three RBI and two runs scored, while Hendrix reached base four times for the second straight game, scoring four times on one hit.

"Zach had a great game," said Whittemore of Hendrix's opening-game hitting. "I'm really happy for his success; it's come through a lot of hard work."

Brandon Show pitched the final inning, getting out of a bases-loaded jam. WNC pitchers stranded 12 Golden Eagles on base.

The Wildcats are scheduled to play a four-game series at rival Southern Nevada on March 16-17, then begin a three series homestead starting March 23-24 against College of Southern Idaho.

"We have the meat of our schedule coming up, traveling to Southern Nevada next weekend, so that's going to be really fun," Whittemore said. "We're looking forward to that challenge for sure. Our guys have worked hard and are playing well."

Press Release: March 12, 2012


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