MCCOOK – Ethan Miller delivered a 2-run home run in the seventh inning of game two to help the Western Nebraska Community College baseball team earn a split with McCook Community College in an Empire Conference doubleheader Wednesday in McCook, Nebraska.
The opener saw McCook score five, sixth-inning runs to earn the 6-1.
WNCC scored early and late to get the 8-6 win in game two behind Miller’s heroics.
“The team played well as a unit in the second game,” Miller said. “It was a big win because it was a morale booster as well as another win to keep us in the position to make the playoffs. The key in winning the second game was SJ [Mousseau] pitching lights out for multiple innings.”
With the split, WNCC goes to 16-15 in conference and 19-26 overall. WNCC is just a game in front of Southeast Community College for the final Region IX tournament berth. Southeast is 17-16 after sweeping Lamar Community College 4-3 and 4-2 Wednesday afternoon.
That means this weekend’s five conference games are important to making the regional tournament. WNCC hosts Otero Junior College on Friday beginning at noon followed by a 3-game series with Lamar on Saturday and Sunday. Southeast has three games with Otero this weekend.
Miller said this weekend’s games are key and they know how important the final regular season games are.
“The only things the team needs to do this weekend is to stick together and to have a good time,” he said. “We’ve worked very hard to get to where we are and none of us are taking the task ahead of us lightly.”
The way they started in the second game is the key. It was also a huge win for the Cougars. After just managing just four hits in the first game loss, WNCC came out of the gate with plenty of offense, scoring four in the second and one in the third for a 5-1 lead.
The second inning saw WNCC bat around in the line-up. It all started as Harrison Yates and Hunter Nelson earned free passes. Braden Lofink came through with a one-out single to tie the game. Miller followed with a walk to load the bases. Dermot Fritsch scored two on a 2-out single followed by Miller scoring on a wild pitch for the 4-1 lead.
WNCC added a single run in the third for a 5-1 lead.
The lead didn’t last with McCook scoring a run in the fourth and then four in the fifth to grab a 6-5 lead.
WNCC came back to tie the game with a single run in the sixth as Mitch Osborne reaches on an error followed by a Fritsch single. Luis Alcantara scored Osborne on a sacrifice fly to knot things at 6-6.
The Cougars won the game in the seventh after Lofink reached on a fielder’s choice hit. With two outs, Miller took a 2-0 count and lofted a fly ball to right field for the 2-run home run and 8-6 lead.
SJ Mousseau then shut down the McCook bats by inducing two ground ball outs and getting an out with a swinging strikeout for the win.
WNCC finished with nine hits, all singles except for Miller’s seventh-inning home run.
Dermot Fritsch led the attack with three hits with two RBIs. Hunter Nelson tallied two hits and scored two runs, while Braden Lofink scored twice with a RBI.
Miller had just one hit but scored two runs with three RBIs in the win.
Mousseau picked up the win on the mound in relief, tossing 2 2/3 innings. Mousseau allowed just one hit and struck out three. Kyler Harris started and went four innings in scattering five hits and allowing four runs. Harris struck out four. Devin DeBoer also saw action on the mound, allowing two runs on a hit.
The first game was a tight pitcher’s duel for five innings. McCook took an early 1-0 lead with a second-inning home run. WNCC knotted the score with a Mitch Osborne solo home run in the sixth.
McCook came back and scored five in the bottom of the frame to go on to win.
WNCC managed just four hits in the contest with Osborne having three of them. Osborne was a triple shy of the cycle with a single, double, and home run. Michael Felton had the other hit.
Chandler Young took the loss, going 5 1/3 innings while scattering four hits and allowing four runs. Young struck out five and walked just one. Nate Kolb finished off the game allowing two runs on two hits.
WNCC 000 001 0 – 1 4 1
McCook 010 005 x – 6 6 0
LP – Chandler Young.
2B – Mitch Osborne.
HR – Mitch Osborne.
WNCC 041 001 2 – 8 9 5
McCook 100 140 0 – 6 7 2
WP – SJ Mousseau.
HR – Ethan “Q” Miller.