The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team split an Empire Conference doubleheader with Southeast Community College Saturday at Cleveland Field.
WNCC scored three times in the sixth inning to earn a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Southeast in game one on Saturday. The second game saw the Storm score three times in the fifth and then reliever Gavin Gregg struck out seven of nine Cougar batters in the final three innings as Southeast claimed a 6-4 win.
The two squads will be back in action Sunday for a 9-inning contest at 1 p.m. at Cleveland Field.
The split still has the Cougars in a hunt for a Region IX play-off spot. WNCC goes to 15-13 in conference play and 18-24 overall. Southeast drops to 14-16 in conference. Lamar leads the conference at 19-11 followed by Trinidad State and Northeastern Junior College at 20-12 and 18-12 respectively.
WNCC coach Mike Jones said there were some good things from Saturday, but also some things that didn’t go their way.
“I thought we did a really good job of keeping our composure in the first game and putting together some really good at bats and being able to rally late and coming away with a win,” Jones said. “The second game I thought we got beat by a lot of fastballs. We have been hitting the fastball well lately, but they got some fastballs by us today. Then we made some defensive mistakes that hurt us. That is a bad combination for us. We are looking to play better tomorrow.”
That is the key, the Cougars and Southeast will match up in a key game for both squads on Sunday and Jones said they just need to put Saturday’s loss behind them.
“Tomorrow [Sunday] is another important game,” he said. “We will get ready to play tomorrow and come back out and play well tomorrow.”
The first game was a contest where Southeast out hit the Cougars 9-7 but it was what the Cougars did late that helped WNCC pick up the win. Southeast struck first with a run in the third. WNCC tied the game with a single run in the fourth. The Storm stormed back with two in the sixth for a 3-1 lead.
WNCC quickly answered with some quality at-bats in the sixth when they scored three times on two hits. Mitch Osborne started the rally with a one-out single. Dermot Fritsch followed by getting aboard via a walk. Both runners scored on a Brevin Owen triple. Owen scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball.
Berg closed the door in the seventh with a strikeout and inducing two easy ground balls for the win.
Berg had a solid outing in getting the complete-game pitching performance. The right-hander scattered nine hits and allowed just three runs while striking out four and not waling a batter.
Offensively, WNCC had just seven hits. Owen led the way with three hits. Owen also had three RBIs, a triple and a run scored. Osborne tallied two hits with a double and two runs scored.
The second game was a wild one, too. Southeast scored three runs in the second inning on four hits to grab a 3-0 lead. WNCC comes right back in the third for three runs on three hits. Ty McAninch started the rally with single followed by Mitch Osborne reaching on a hit batsman. Dermot Fritsch loaded the bases with a single.
McAninch scores the first run on a wild pitch. Miller than plates two more to tie the game with a double.
The game stayed 3-3 until the fifth when the Storm score three times on just two hits and three errors. A big play in the inning was Braden Lofink throwing a rifle shot from leftfield to catcher Mitch Osborne for a home to save a run. But, the errors ended up being costly as Southeast went up 6-3 on a double by Dylan Wagner.
WNCC was silenced in the fifth and sixth and mounted a seventh-inning rally. It all started with Osborne getting a 2-out single. Fritsch then reached on a dropped third strike. Owen came through with a run-scoring single, but that was all the Cougars could muster.
Both teams finished the game with six hits. The difference in the game, however, was WNCC committed six fielding errors while the Storm had zero.
Owen led the team from the plate with two hits and an RBI. Miller had a double with two RBIs. Osborne scored two runs.
Kale Litzelman was the hard-luck losing pitcher, going 4 2/3 innings while allowing six hits and six runs. Litzelman had just three earned runs while striking out four. Devin DeBoer finished off the game with 2 1/3 innings of solid relief. DeBoer did not allow a run and struck out two.
Southeast 001 002 0 – 3 9 0
WNCC 000 103 x – 4 7 1
WP – Zach Berg.
2B – Mitch Osborne.
3B – Brevin Owen.
Southeast 030 030 0 – 6 6 0
WNCC 003 000 1 – 4 6 6
LP – Kale Litzelman.
2B – Q Miller.