Wildcats Advance to Western District Finals
5/20/2016 | Baseball
Faced with elimination for the first time in the postseason, the Western Nevada College Wildcats never stopped hitting on Friday night, earning a spot in the Western District baseball tournament championship.
WNC scored four runs in the first inning and erupted for 11 in the seventh inning to oust host Trinidad State, 18-5, at Central Park in Trinidad, Colo.
Freshman left-hander Jordan Ragan controlled the Trojans' attack, limiting them to five hits in his complete-game victory.
"Jordan is a big-game pitcher," WNC catcher Sam Salyers said. "I think he would have pushed through no matter what, but, I mean, having a lead always helps."
Yavapai College dropped WNC into the losers' bracket with a come-from-behind 8-4 victory earlier in the day. But the Wildcats will get another crack at the Roughriders in the finals that begin at noon PST Saturday. WNC (43-18) will need to defeat Yavapai twice to advance to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series.
The Wildcats' 11-run seventh inning included six doubles and a triple. Salyers knocked in three runs with two doubles, while DJ Peters, Tim Lichty, Eric Flores and Blake also slugged two-baggers. Chad Bell contributed a two-run triple in the game-deciding seventh as WNC sent 15 hitters to the plate.
"At some point you put it all together. We could haven't picked a better time," Salyers said. "Everyone was just driving through the ball."
The Wildcats jumped on Trinidad State starter Jose Torres for four first-inning runs. David Modler triggered the fast start with a double to the left-center gap. Bell's liner to left field was misplayed by Alec Petterson, sending Modler home. Lichty knocked his fifth single of the evening and Yagi walked to fill the bases for Flores.
"It was awesome to see the offense come out like that and keep putting it on them," Modler said.
Flores brought home the Wildcats' second and third runs of the inning with a double down the left-field line. Bradley Lewis followed with a sacrifice fly for a 4-0 WNC lead.
"It was a pretty big confidence booster in the first inning. We just went in from a loss and tried to put the ball in play," Flores said. "Essentially it's feel-good time for tomorrow's game."
Ragan plowed through the Trojans' lineup early, setting down the first seven hitters. But Keven Rodriguez sent a Ragan offering over the right-field fence in the third to bring the Trojans' within 4-1. Ragan walked the next two Trinidad State hitters, but wiggled out of the rally with back-to-back strikeouts.
Peters made WNC history in the fourth inning as his two-run shot gave him the Wildcats' all-time home run record at 22. The homer off Torres also increased Peters' single-season homer mark to 15. His teammates gave him the silent treatment until he came into the dugout, where he was mobbed.
Trinidad State got the runs back in their half of the fifth when Andres Alvarez crushed a two-run homer to left-center with two outs.
Modler's seventh hit of the day fueled a Wildcat scoring chance in the sixth. Bell's base hit sent Modler to second and Peters' fielder's choice moved him to third. A wild pitch on the fourth ball to Lichty allowed Modler to cross the plate, making the score 7-3 for WNC.
In their first game on Friday, defending Western District champion Yavapai College rallied to defeat the Wildcats, 8-4. Yavapai Andrew Gross threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief and Ramsey Romano knocked in four runs as the 14th-ranked Roughriders qualified for Saturday's championship round.
Dylan Enwiller tied the score at 4 by homering with one out in the sixth. The Roughriders continued to time reliever Ty Fox's pitches in the seventh with consecutive hits by Turtle Kuahaula, Romano and Christian Maggi producing two runs. The Roughriders added a third run in the seventh when Maggi took an extra base on Easley's sacrifice bunt, beating first baseman Daniel Nist's wide throw to the plate.
Lichty and Peters delivered inning-opening knocks in the seventh and eighth, but the Roughriders turned double plays in both innings to silence the comeback efforts of the Wildcats. Modler and Peters reached base in the ninth, but first baseman Brock Ephan squeezed Abe Yagi's popup to end the game.
Lichty and Modler collected seven of the Wildcats' 12 hits.
In their first at-bat, the Wildcats learned how strong Nate Easley's arm is in center field. On Yagi's base hit, Easley threw out Peters trying to go from first to third, ending the threat.
With a tendency for Yavapai starting pitcher Joseph "JoJo" Romero to experience some wildness, the Wildcats were able to force the Roughrider ace to throw 40 pitches through two innings. The Wildcats nicked him for a run when Casey Cornwell fouled off three pitches before hitting a sacrifice fly to score Lewis. Lewis walked, went to second on a Lichty's base hit and took third on Nist's sacrifice bunt.
Yagi continued his torrid power hitting in the postseason, leading off the fourth inning with a homer 375 feet to right-center field. It was Yagi's third homer of the postseason and his second shot in as many days. Obviously shaken by allowing his second run to the Wildcats, Romero walked Lewis on four pitches, then Lichty reached on an infield single when Ephan slipped while trying to cover the bag on the chopper to second baseman Enwiller. But Romero refocused and struck out Nist and Cornwell, then retired Sam Salyers on a hard groundball to third base.
Young held the Roughriders hitless until Maggi started the fourth with a double down the right-field line. Maggi stole third base after Young struck out Easley, firing up the Yavapai dugout. Young then walked Ephan on five pitches, setting up Gavin Johns for a RBI single to center. The Wildcats avoided more damage when Yagi dropped Enwiller's drive to right, but coolly threw to Modler at second for the force out.
Yavapai took its first lead in the fifth on Romano's two-run homer to right-center field. Young's start ended one batter later when he gave up a single to Maggi. Coach D.J. Whittemore brought in Fox, who squashed the threat with a force out and strikeout.
In the sixth, the Wildcats retook the lead while running Romero's pitch count over 100. Lichty smashed an infield single off Ephan and Nist walked. A tiring Romero threw a wild pitch to move both Wildcats into scoring position. Cornwell tried to bunt home Lichty, but his sacrifice attempt was just in front of the plate and became a quick out.
Romero's second wild pitch of the inning scored Lichty and sent Nist to third. Salyers' two-out single to right plated Nist to put WNC ahead 4-3. Modler's third hit off Romero prompted a pitching change.
Romero, a former University of Nevada pitcher, gave up nine hits and three earned runs. He struck out seven and walked three.
Young surrendered four hits and three earned runs in t 4 1/3 innings. He walked four and fanned two.