The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team put two solid performances together in sweeping an Empire Conference doubleheader from Northeastern Junior College Wednesday afternoon at Cleveland Field.
The opener saw Eddy Nodarse go five strong innings, allowing just two runs and three hits in leading the Cougars to the 7-2 win.
The second contest saw Zac Moran go five innings and the Cougars score three early runs in registering the 5-2 win.
The two wins move the Cougars to 18-4 in conference play and 23-19 overall. WNCC holds a 4 ½ game lead over second place Lamar Community College and a 5 ½ game lead over Trinidad State. WNCC travels to face Trinidad State Junior College in a four-game series Friday and Saturday.
Ryan Grasser, who had a double in game one, said the team consistent in both games to get the wins.
“We played really well. We executed in all phases of the game,” Grasser said. “We had great pitching and we had clutch hits when we needed them.”
The pitching was definitely better than last week Wednesday when NJC swept a doubleheader at Sterling, Colorado. Wednesday, the Cougars received stellar pitching with good defense and timely hitting. And, Grasser said, that was the difference between the week of games.
“Our pitching came out and threw strikes and that is what we needed them to do,” Grasser said. “We threw up early runs which proved to be big in the long run. Our pitching really carried the load today.”
The wins were huge in the Cougar’s goal of winning the conference and hosting the regional tournament, something this team hasn’t done in program history. Grasser said that is the team’s goal, to host regionals.
“It will big for us [to get to host regionals],” he said. “We love playing here at Cleveland Field especially the way we hit here. The home vibes playing in front of all these people is something you can’t beat for sure.”
Game one saw WNCC score early and then hold back NJC. Ty Benson scored the only run in the first inning for the 1-0 lead. WNCC pushed the lead to 6-0 with a five spot in the third. Lucas Piatchek started the frame with a double and scores on a Grasser single. Alex Achtermann followed with a double to score Grasser. WNCC added three more singles to push the lead to 5-0.
WNCC managed 10 hits in the contest. Grasser, Achtermann, and Brandon Bachar all had two hits for the Cougars. Grasser had a double with two RBIs and a run scored, Achtermann had a double with a run scored and a RBI, and Bachar had two singles with a run scored and RBI.
Eddy Nodarse went five strong innings in striking out one, walking two and scattering three hits while allowing two runs to get the win. Angel Cortes and Ian Fisher each pitched one solid inning. Cortez struck out two, while Fisher struck out one.
Game two was much like the first with WNCC getting out to the quick 4-0 start and then holding on to the win. The Cougars plated three, first-inning runs on a run-scoring double by Achtermann. Brandon Maher added to the lead with a 2-run single for the 3-0 lead.
WNCC added another run in the second as Cooper Buchhammer walked, Esai Hernandez singles and then Buchhammer scores on a sacrifice fly by Benson.
NJC sliced the lead in half with two in the third, but WNCC came back with a run in the fifth as Benson scored on an Achtermann single.
NJC outhit the Cougars 8-7. Achtermann led the team with two hits, including a double, two RBIs, and a run scored. Benson also had two hits with two runs scored and a RBI.
Zac Moran picked up the win on the mound, going five innings in allowing two runs, seven hits, striking out three and walking one. Blake Slaymaker tossed one inning while Ian Fisher earned the save pitching the seventh in allowing just one hit.
NJC 000 110 0 – 2 4 2
WNCC 105 001 x – 7 10 2
WP – Eddy Nodarse; 2B – Ryan Grasser, Alex Achtermann, Lucas Piatchek.
NJC 002 000 0 – 2 8 2
WNCC 310 010 x – 5 7 3
WP – Zac Moran; S – Ian Fisher; 2B – Alex Achtermann.