The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team put together clutch hits and timely pitching in earning a doubleheader sweep of Trinidad State Junior College Friday afternoon at Cleveland Field in Empire Conference action.
The first game saw Zach Berg pitch six solid innings in striking out six in helping the Cougars to a 3-2 win.
The second contest was a seventh-inning comeback as the Luiz Alcantara delivered a 2-out single to score Dermot Fritsch with the game-winner for the 5-4 win.
It was the Cougars’ fifth straight win and moves the Cougars to 13-10 in conference play and 16-21 overall. Trinidad State falls to 17-10 in conference and 22-20 overall. The two teams will be back in action Saturday for one 9-inning game at Cleveland field. WNCC and Trinidad lead the conference with the fewest losses after Lamar swept Northeastern Junior College on Friday. Both Lamar and NJC have 11 conference defeats.
Alcantara said it was two big wins for the Cougars Friday after nearly two weeks off without playing.
“I think we played good and played good defense,” Alcantara said. “The pitching staff was impressive and at the end of the day we got the wins.”
WNCC played excellent defense in both games in not committing an error. The team also got clutch hits when they needed to in both games, but the clutch hits was evident in the second game.
WNCC entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 4-3 to Trinidad. The Cougars had to battle in the bottom of the frame. Mitch Osborne started the rally with a 2-out walk. Dermot Fritsch followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Brevin Owens came through roping the fifth pitch to right field to score Osborne with the tying run.
Alcantara then stepped to the plate and delivered a 1-2 pitch to centerfield to score Fritsch with the game winner and sending the Cougar bench into a frenzy.
Alcantara said that seventh-inning comeback was thrilling.
“It was a clutch moment and a very good moment,” Alcantara said. “it was impressive. The energy and joyfulness was exciting.”
For Alcantara, who is the starting shortstop, his mind was clear when he stepped to the plate in the seventh.
“My mind was clear,” he said. “It was just to hit the ball, hit the right pitch, and it happened.”
WNCC had several clutch hits in the second game. Trinidad State led 3-0 after 2 ½ innings. WNCC scored its first run in the third when Matt Womack reaches on an error and scores on a Ty McAninch single.
WNCC adds single runs in the fourth and fifth. The fourth saw Fritsch single and comes around to score on a Q Miller single to cut the lead to 3-2.
Scottsbluff’s Braden Lofink led off the fifth with a double and came in to score the tying run on a John Betsch rocket shot into left field.
WNCC finished with 10 hits in the contest. Owens led the way with three hits with a double, and an RBI, while Fritsch had two hits with two runs scored. Lofink had a double in the game with a run scored.
Kale Litzelman went six strong innings in scattering five hits while striking out seven and walking just two. Garrett DeClue picked up the win in going two-thirds of an inning in allowing a hit.
The first game was a pitching dual between the two starting pitchers. WNCC’s Zach Berg picked up the win with six strong innings in scattering seven hits and allowing just two runs while striking out six. Nate Kolb picked up the save, tossing a strong seventh inning.
Trinidad’s starting pitcher went six innings in allowing just three runs while striking out eight.
WNCC took an early 2-0 lead with single runs in the first and second innings. Fritsch started the first with a 2-out single and scored on a Owen double. The second inning saw Harrison Yates single and score on a Ty McAninch single for the 2-0 lead.
After Trinidad tied the score with two in the fifth, WNCC came back with a single run in the fifth as Fritsch scored on a 2-out, bases-loaded passed ball.
After that, Berg and Kolb closed the door in the final two innings.
WNCC finished with nine hits. McAninch, Owen, and Harrison Yates all had two hits. Owen and McAninch each had a double, while Fritsch scored two runs.
Trinidad 000 020 0 – 2 8 0
WNCC 110 010 x – 3 9 0
WP – Zach Berg; S – Nate Kolb.
2B – Brevin Owen, Ty McAninch.
Trinidad 012 000 1 – 4 6 1
WNCC 001 110 2 – 5 10 0
WP – Garrett DeClue.
2B – Braden Lofink, Brevin Owen.