May 19, 2012

Beat Second-Ranked Salt Lake 9-8

Wildcats Win! Headed for JUCO World Series

Western District Champions - Victory Celebration
Western District Champions - Victory Celebration

The Western Nevada College baseball team can say it now - they are the champions. After finishing second in both the Scenic West Athletic Conference and the Region 18 baseball tournament to No. 2 ranked Salt Lake Community College, the 2012 Wildcats are the champions of the NJCAA Western District. Best of all, they are headed for the JUCO World Series, which begins May 26.

WNC beat the Bruins 9-8 Saturday afternoon to win the double elimination tournament. The Wildcats captured the title in the first of what could have been a two-game championship battle.

In fact, the Wildcats led for six innings before the Bruins captured the lead in the seventh inning. Then, it was up to WNC to battle back for the victory. Salt Lake tallied 11 hits to Western Nevada’s 10, but the Wildcats fought for the win after falling behind late in the game.

Salt Lake opened with a hit in the first inning by Dominique Taylor, but Wildcat fielding prevented a score. In return, the Wildcats scored one run on two hits in the bottom of the inning to take a 1-0 lead. Shortstop Chris Wooley reached base after being hit with a pitch, and advanced on a single by Mike Umscheid. He advanced to third on a fielder’s choice, and then scored on an RBI single by rightfielder Dillon Ness.

The Bruins tied the game at 1-1 in the second inning on a double by Tyson Popoff, but were held off in the third in order. The Wildcats added a run in the bottom of the inning when Zach Hendrix hit an RBI single to score Derrick Pitts.

The Wildcats held off Salt Lake in the fourth inning and added a run to their lead. Alex Schmidt hit a stand-up double and was driven in two batters later by Taylor Smart on a base hit up the middle, stretching the lead to 3-1.

WNC broke the score open in the bottom of the fifth inning, tallying three runs on two hits, for a 6-1 lead. Salt Lake relief pitcher Rhett Parkinson struggled, sending Umscheid to base on a hit ball and walking Dillon Ness. Moments later, Ness hit an RBI double, followed by a 2RBI double from Bobby Pappin.

Salt Lake opened the sixth inning with a solo home run by Bryan Heward, but WNC still seemed confident with a 6-2 lead. However, the game was about to tighten up in a big way. The Wildcats went down in order in the bottom of the sixth, and Salt Lake was ready to launch a momentous rally.

Wildcats starting pitcher Derrick Pitts began the seventh inning after 72 pitches, but the leadoff batter Popoff sent a base hit to left field. Pitts immediately gave way to Matt Robertson on the mound, but Salt Lake was determined to make a comeback. The Bruins scored four runs to tie the game at 6-6 on three RBIs. WNC made another pitching change, inserting Dylan Baker, who struck out one and allowed an RBI for a 7-6 Bruin lead.

The Wildcats went down in order in the seventh, and Baker held Salt Lake without a hit in the top of the eighth. But WNC could not score in the bottom of the inning, and Salt Lake expanded its lead to 8-6 in the top of the ninth.

With Bruin closer Dane Fuller on the mound, the Wildcats were resolute about their fate. AJ Hernandez opened with a base hit to right field, followed by a fly out by Pitts. Zach Hendrix then walked, advancing Hernandez, and Dillon Ness hit a fly ball for the second WNC out. Pinch runner Phillip Belding came in for Hendrix.

Down to the last out, Bobby Pappin hit a grounder that scored Hernandez and brought WNC within one. The Wildcats runners then advanced to second and third off a wild pitch. Moments later, Alex Schmidt hit a walk-off RBI single that brought home Belding and Pappin, and won the game, shocking the Bruins on their home field.

Now, Western Nevada will head for Grand Junction, Colorado, and the their third appearance in the JUCO World Series.

Hear Chris Graham's broadcast of the final play in the Western District Championship game.


Photo Gallery
Photos (Click to Enlarge)
Bobby Pappin sliding Zach Hendrix stretches to make the play Dylan Baker on the Mound
Bobby Pappin slidingZach Hendrix stretches to make the playDylan Baker on the Mound
Mike Umscheid at bat On the Move  
Mike Umscheid at batOn the Move  
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