The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team received strong pitching from Zach Berg and Kale Litzelman in taking two games from Otero Junior College in Empire Conference action Friday afternoon at Cleveland Field.
In the opener, Berg struck out six in four innings of work and Brandon Rollinson shut the door down in the fifth to give the Cougars the 11-1 5-inning win.
The second contest saw Litzelman, who just signed with Murray State on Thursday, strike out five in pitching the complete game in leading the Cougars to a 5-0 win.
WNCC coach Mike Jones said his team received stellar pitching performances in the doubleheader sweep.
“We had two really good pitching performances today,” Jones said. “Berg was really good and Kale Litzelman was really, really good as well. We made some really good plays defensively behind those two guys. In game one we were able to get our offense going early and get out to a big lead. The second game was a little bit tougher on us offensively. We got one at a time and manufactured some runs. Late in the game we separated ourselves from them.”
The two wins keep the Cougars in the hunt for a regional tournament appearance at 18-15 and 21-26 overall. WNCC is just one loss ahead of Southeast Community College for the final tournament spot.
Both Southeast and WNCC each have three games left in the regular season. WNCC will host Lamar Community College this weekend with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday and a 9-inning game on Sunday. Southeast hosts Otero in a 3-game series.
If WNCC sweeps Lamar this weekend, they will get the No. 3 seed in the tournament. Also, there is an outside chance the Cougars can get the second seed if McCook Community College sweeps Northeastern Junior College.
Jones said the Lamar series will have lots of complications on the standings.
“We have a big 3-game series coming up Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “Lamar is playing for a top spot in the conference and we are playing for a playoff spot. It will be a big three games.”
The first game was a complete team effort as the Cougars led 8-0 after two innings and then road the strong-arm pitching of Berg for the win.
The Cougars scored twice in the first as Dermot Fritsch reached base after being hit by a pitch. Brevin Owen then doubled. Both scored as Ethan Miller delivered a 2-out single.
WNCC added six runs in the second on six hits. Harrison Yates and Matt Womack led off with singles. Ty McAninch reached on a error to lead the bases. Mitch Osborne scored all three after getting a triple for a 5-0 lead. WNCC added three more runs on three hits for the 8-0 lead.
WNCC put the game away with single runs in the third, fourth, and fifth to end the game.
WNCC finished with 14 hits in the contest. Owen led the way with three hits including two runs scored. Michael Felton, Osborne, Miller, and Matt Womack each had two hits. Osborne had three RBIs in the game with a triple. Miller also had three RBIs.
Berg picked up the win with four strong innings in allowing three hits and striking out six while facing 16 batters.
Litzelman had a strong pitching game in the second contest, tossing a complete game while scattering six hits to get the shutout win.
Offensively, WNCC finished with 10 hits. Fritsch led the attach with three hits, including two doubles and a run scored. Osborne added two hits with a home run and two runs scored.
WNCC scored one in the first as the Cougars put together three straight 2-out singles for the 1-0 lead.
The lead stayed that way until the fourth when WNCC added another run as Braden Lofink scored Luis Alcantara on a sacrifice fly for the 2-0 lead.
The Cougars added two in the fifth as Osborne led off with a solo home run. Fritsch then doubled and scored on a passed ball for the 4-0 lead.
WNCC’s final run came in the sixth as Osborne scored on a Fritsch double.
Otero 001 00 – 1 3 3
WNCC 261 11 – 11 14 0
WP – Zach Berg.
2B – Brevin Owen, Ethan “Q” Miller.
3B – Mitch Osborne.
Otero 000 000 0 – 0 6 0
WNCC 100 121 x – 5 10 0
WP – Kale Litzelman.
2B – Dermot Fritsch 2.
HR – Mitch Osborne.