WNCC baseball sweeps Trinidad State on Sunday
March 5, 2012WESTERN NEBRASKA COMMUNITY COLLEGE
The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team opened conference play in fine fashion with two outstanding pitching performances from Nick Hernandez and Gianfranco Bernal in the doubleheader win over Trinidad State Junior College on Sunday at Cleveland Field.
The Cougars received a 3-run home run from Jose Gonzalez in the opener in coming back for a 6-4 win. The second game saw the Cougars’ Bernal strike out seven in getting the complete game 4-2 win.
WNCC coach Mike Jones was impressed with the pitching performances of the two freshmen.
“We had two freshmen on the mound and the first time they have pitched in a conference game. They really stepped up for us,” he said. “They pitched a really, really good ball game. They were mixing in a lot of off speed stuff, getting ahead with the fast balls. They caused a lot of ground balls and for the most part we played pretty good defense behind them. All in all, it was a real good game for us.”
What was bigger yet, however, was how the team stayed focused and came through in the late innings with some big hits. The Cougars trailed 4-1 in game one and 1-0 in game two.
“We were in a hole the very first game. We came out a little flat and it seemed like we were struggling to find any kind of rhythm,” Jones said. “Late in the game, their guy got a little tired and we were able to take advantage of it. We got some good pitches to hit. We showed a little bit of power with Pep [Jose Gonzalez] hitting the home run and Max [Brennan] hitting the triple. We really busted it out late in the game.
“We found some ways to score some runs. It wasn’t always the best or most fundamental ways, but we did find ways to score some runs. We came up with some big hits with some guys on base which was real important.”
WNCC trailed 4-1 in the fifth inning. That is when the Cougars busted out the bats, scoring one in the fifth and four in the sixth to get the opening-game win. After WNCC sliced the lead in half to 4-2 with that single run in the fifth, the Cougars offense exploded in the sixth with four runs on four hits.
Keeton Krause starting things by reaching base on an error followed by a single by Tre Meier and then a run-scoring single by Josh Bride. Gonzalez then lifted a pitch over the right-field fence for a 3-run shot. Brennan followed that hit with a triple.
Hernandez then shut down the Trojan bats in the seventh, inducing two fly balls and then sealing the win with his fifth strikeout of the contest.
WNCC finished with seven hits in the contest. Gonzalez led the way with the home run, three RBIs and a run scored. Bride and Benly Ramos each recorded a RBI in the win.
In game two, Bernal shut down the Trinidad offense in the final four innings and the Cougars received some clutch hits and timely base running to register the sweep. Bernal kept the Trojans off the base paths, recording seven strikeouts. The freshman from Miami, Fla., allowed one earned run, four hits and one walk over the seven innings.
WNCC took a 2-1 lead in the second inning as the Trinidad pitcher walked the bases loaded. The Trojan pitching staff continued to struggle walking in both runs for the 2-1 lead.
Trinidad came back in the third inning to tie the contest at 2-2. The Cougars came back to retake the lead with a single run in the fifth. Nick Vanthillo started things with a walk and then scored on a passed ball.
The Cougars added an insurance run in the sixth on two hits, both singles by Bride and Andy Padron. Bride scored the only run on a single by Brennan.
WNCC pounded out just four hits in the win, but took advantage of Trinidad's pitching woes. The Trojans used five pitchers in game, where they allowed nine walks and hit two batters. Starting pitcher Zac Wittmus had four strikeouts in his four innings of work.
Jones said that while his team didn’t play its best, it was nice to see how this team stayed together to come back for the late-winning runs.
“It is great to see that we have strong character,’ he said. “We have a group of very good young men that are getting better. Their attitude is great. But, we have to keep getting better with the fundamentals of the game itself, but the attitude has been really good. We are very strong and staying together as a team and I am really proud of them.”
WNCC will return to action Tuesday when they face Colorado State Club in Ft. Collins before facing Lamar Community College and Otero Junior College in key Region IX conference games this weekend.
Trinidad 012 010 0 – 4 5 2
WNCC 010 014 x – 6 7 0
WP – Nick Hernandez; 3B – Max Brennan; HR – Jose Gonzalez.
Trinidad (10-7) 101 000 0 – 2 4 2
WNCC (7-6) 020 011 x – 4 4 4
WP – Gianfranco Bernal.