COLLEGE: Three-run homers carry WNC to SWAC sweep

Three was the key number for the Western Nevada College Wildcats Friday afternoon.

The Wildcats got a three-run homer in each game of the doubleheader en route to 7-4 and 10-0 Scenic West Athletic Conference wins over Eastern Utah at John L. Harvey Field.

"It's nice to be back home," said WNC coach D.J. Whittemore, whose team will be at home the rest of the season (15 games). "We feel comfortable hitting in this park."

Brooks Klein hit a three-run homer to spark a five-run rally and help the Wildcats to a come-from-behind win in the first game, and then Connor Eppard mashed a three-run homer in the first inning to start an eight-run explosion in game 2.

The sweep gives WNC a 23-3 record, and keeps the Wildcats tied with Salt Lake for the top spot in the conference. Salt Lake swept Colorado Northwestern on Friday. WNC continues its four-game series against Eastern Utah with two seven-inning games today starting at noon.

Anthony Consiglio, who has been WNC's best pitcher in recent weeks, sailed through the first two innings but ran into trouble in the third when Eastern Utah scored all four of its runs.

Rob Smith walked and reached second when Consiglio made a bad throw on Brock Carlson's sacrifice bunt. Both runners advanced a base on a balk, and Aaron Sandoval drove in Smith with a single for the game's first run.

With runners at first and third, Eastern ran the cutthroat play where the runner at first gets in a rundown with hopes of staying in long enough for the runner at third to score. WNC failed to execute it, and not only did Carlson score, but Sandoval reached second base.

"I let my guys be athletes and make plays," Whittemore said. " (Taylor) Smart and (Sean) Potkay are two of the smartest players we have. I trust them to make good decisions. Smart may have been able to tag him (Sandoval) if he had dove."

After a strikeout and a Craig Brinkerhoff walk plus a wild pitch, Nuho Kraja stroked a two-run single to make it 4-0.

WNC, which left two runners on in each of the first two innings, came back with a vengeance in the bottom of the third.

Smart singled and went to second on a bad pick-off throw by Kody Christoffersen. After Eppard and Potkay were retired, Beau Day walked. That brought up Klein, who suffered through a 1-for-32 slump at the start of the season. Klein powered an 0-1 pitch over the fence in right to make it a 4-3 game.

"I guess I was saving it for the right time," Klein said. "I tried several different things. I changed my swing a little."

WNC wasn't through.

Pat McMeel, Donald Glover Jr. and Tanner Nielsen followed with singles. Glover's one-bagger tied the game at 4 and Nielsen's infield hit gave the Wildcats a 5-4 lead.

The Wildcats added two in the fourth, one coming when Smart had third stolen and the catcher threw the ball into left field. Day capped the scoring with a solo homer to make it 7-4.

Consiglio left after five and Brandon Jackson pitched two scoreless innings of relief to wrap it up.

"I just couldn't find my groove until the fourth," Consiglio said. "I made a lot of good pitches. Each time I missed my spot they would capitalize."

Whittemore didn't think Consiglio pitched all that poorly.

"We rested him last week (tender elbow), so he hadn't thrown in 12 or 13 days," Whittemore said. "He threw a lot better than the result. If he makes a better throw on that bunt it might have been a different game."

In the second game, WNC sent 12 batters to the plate in the first inning en route to an eight-run explosion. Besides Eppard's' three-run blast, Day had a run-scoring triple while Glover and Chris Woolley each drove in a run. Four walks, a throwing error and a hit batsman also helped the Wildcats.

That first inning was more than enough for lefty Kody Gorden, who pitched a three-hitter and was never in serious trouble, Gorden struck out eight and didn't walk a batter.

"It's probably my best game (at WNC)," Gorden said. "I was able to throw my change-up for strikes whenever I needed to."

The early explosion changed everything according to Gorden, who was coming off a one-run effort against Colorado Northwestern last weekend.

"It relieves all the pressure," Gorden said. "You don't have to worry about walks. It just makes it easier especially when you have great defense like we do."

The WNC offense was nowhere to be found over the next four innings. The Wildcats ended the game with no outs in the sixth thanks to a run-scoring infield single by Zach Hendrix and a bases-loaded hit batsman.

WNC had just five hits in the second game.


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