The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team allowed Southeast Community College to score five, seventh-inning runs in falling to the Storm 5-2 Sunday at Cleveland Field in an Empire Conference contest.
The Cougars dropped to 15-14 in conference play and 18-25 overall. Southeast remains in fifth place in the conference standings, just behind WNCC at 15-16 in conference action. The top four teams qualify for the Region IX Tournament May 9-11. Lamar Community College leads the conference at 20-11.
Sunday’s defeat was a difficult one for the Cougars as they were playing well defensively in eight of the nine innings. The one inning, the seventh, turned rough as a swirling wind came in and changed the game.
Up until the seventh, the Cougars were playing well defensively with some timely plays including double plays. Offensively, they were getting the job done, holding a 2-0 lead through six innings.
WNCC scored single runs in the second and third inning. The second started with back-to-back singles by Luis Alcantara and Ethan “Q” Miller. Hunter Nelson loaded the bases after being plucked by a pitch. Michael Felton scores the only run on a fielder’s choice hit for the 1-0 lead.
WNCC added another run in the third. Mitch Osborne doubled and scored on a Dermot Fritsch single for the 2-0 lead.
Defensively, the Cougars were also playing well. The Cougars turned a crucial double play in the first inning and then starting pitcher Hunter Parker needed just nine pitches to get three outs in the second. The Cougar defense recorded another double play to end the sixth.
The seventh was when the swirling winds picked up. Dylan Wagner led off the seventh for Southeast with a double. After Nick Hall was hit by a pitch, WNCC recorded on out. The Storm scored its first run on an error and tied the game at 2-2 on a sacrifice hit. Two straight singles and then a double by Brenton Davis scored three more runs and put Southeast up 5-2.
WNCC mounted a comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Felton walked and then Osborne reached base after being plunked with a pitch. Fritsch delivered a 2-out single to load the bases. Brevin Owen then took a second pitch and hammered the ball to rightfield in what normally would have been a no-doubt home run. But, the swirling winds caught the ball and kept the ball in the ball park as the third out was recorded at the warning track by Wagner.
WNCC was outhit in the contest 6-5. Fritsch led the Cougar offensive with two hits with a RBI. Osborne had the only extra base hit with a double.
Hunter Parker suffered the loss, going 6 2/3 innings allowing four runs, four hits, and striking out seven. Garrett DeClue finished off the game with 2 1/3 innings in allowing two hits, a run, and striking out two.
WNCC will wrap up the regular season with a host of games this week. WNCC is slated to host Otero Junior College on Tuesday, but that game might get moved because weather conditions. If that is the case, WNCC will hit the road to face McCook Community College on Wednesday in a doubleheader.
Southeast 000 000 500 – 5 6 0
WNCC 011 000 000 – 2 5 1
WP – Mark Timmins; S – Gavin Gregg; LP – Hunter Parker.
2B – WNCC (Mitch Osborne), Southeast (Dawson Degnan, Brenton Davis, Dylan Wagner).