LAJUNTA, Colo. – The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team couldn’t find the clutch hit in dropping two 1-run games to Otero Junior College Sunday in La Junta, Colorado.
The first Empire Conference game went 11 innings before Otero scored in the bottom of the fourth extra frame to claim the 3-2 win. The second contest saw Otero score three times in the sixth to register the 5-4 conference win.
The losses drop WNCC to 9-19 overall and to fifth in the conference standings at 6-8 behind Southeast Community College who took two from conference-leading Trinidad State Junior College on Sunday.
Three teams are tied on top of the conference standings with six losses each and WNCC could have been the fourth team with two wins Sunday against an Otero team that is 6-10 in conference play.
Both games saw good pitching performances, but it was the offense that struggled. WNCC managed just six hits and two runs in the first contest and five hits and 4 runs in the second contest.
The first game saw a strong start from Zach Berg on the mound. Berg went six innings in scattering six hits and giving up just two runs while striking out five and walking on. Nate Kolb came on and went 4 1/3 innings in scattering seven hits and allowing just one run to take the loss.
WNCC scored two in the third to grab a 2-1 lead on just one hit, a 2-run single by Arnoldo-Maltos-Garcia.
Otero came back to knot the score with a run in the sixth. WNCC’s biggest chance to win the game came in the 11th when Dermot Fritsch and Brevin Owen each singled with one out, but WNCC couldn’t get a hit to score the go-ahead run.
The 11th inning saw Otero get a lead-off triple. After two intentional walks, the Rattlers came through with the game-winning hit.
WNCC had just six hits, all singles. Brevin Owen and Maltos-Garcia each had two hits. The other hits came from Luis Alcantara and Dermot Fritsch.
Game two was similar to game one. WNCC was outhit 5-4 in the contest. The Cougars received a strong pitching performance from Kale Litzelman, who went six strong innings, allowing six hits and striking out five.
WNCC knotted the game at 1-1 in the second when Owen doubled and scored on a wild pitch.
The Cougars took the lead with a run in the fourth on two singles. Otero answered in the bottom of the fourth with a run to tie the game at 2-2.
The Cougars followed the fourth with two runs for a 4-2 lead. Both runs scored with two outs. Ty McAninch started things with a 2-out double. After two walks, Owen and Osborne each earned walks to force in runs.
The lead stayed that way until the sixth when Otero scored three runs on three singles for the lead.
Owen led the way with two hits with a run scored and a RBI. Mitch Osborne had two RBIs, while Luis Alcantara scored twice.
The two teams will be back in action Monday for another doubleheader. WNCC then returns home for its home-opener on Wednesday against Northeastern Junior College.
WNCC 002 000 000 00 – 2 6 2
Otero 010 001 000 01 – 3 13 2
LP – Nate Kolb.
WNCC 010 120 0 – 4 4 2
Otero 100 103 x – 5 5 0
LP – Kale Litzelman.
2B – Brevin Owen. Ty McAninich.