LA JUNTA, Colo. – The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team had a strong pitching performance from Zach Berg in picking up a 3-2 win in the opening game of the Region IX baseball tournament over Trinidad State Junior College Friday afternoon in La Junta, Colorado.
WNCC moves into the winner’s bracket final Saturday at 11 a.m. against Lamar Community College. Lamar used a walk-off in the 11th inning to register a 5-2 win over Northeastern Junior College. The rest of the tournament will be played in Trinidad, Colorado.
“We got a really good pitching performance from Zach Berg today,” WNCC coach Mike Jones said. “Our pitching was really good and our defense was solid but I was more impressed with the composure with our guys on the mound. When they got guys on base, I thought we handled the pressure really well.”
The win was a huge for the team, who now advances to the winner’s bracket final with hopes of bringing home a Region IX title and the chance to host the West Districts next week.
“Getting yourself into the winner’s bracket game coming up tomorrow [Saturday] puts you a lot closer to a regional championship,” Jones said. “If you can play good tomorrow, you are in a good position.”
WNCC’s pitching and defense were huge after the Cougars gave up two runs in the first inning to trail 2-0. After spotting the Trojans the two runs, WNCC responded in the top of the second with two runs of their own.
WNCC’s second started with Luis Alcantara reaching on an error and scored on a Ty McAninch double. Arnoldo Maltos-Garcia plated McAninch with a 2-out single to knot the score.
The game stayed tied until the eighth when Dermot Fritsch singled and then Brevin Owen doubled. Alcantara then drove in the go-ahead run with a 2-out single for the 3-2 lead.
Trinidad had a prime chance to either tie or take the lead in the bottom of the eighth loading the bases with one out. Garrett DeClue got out of the trouble striking out one and then getting the third out on a pop fly to right field to avoid and runs to cross
WNCC finished with seven hits in the contest with four doubles. Owen had two hits including a double.
Berg went seven innings to get the win, allowing six hits, two runs and striking out five. DeClue picked up the save, tossing two innings in allowing two hits and striking out one.
WNCC 020 000 010 – 3 7 3
Trinidad 200 000 000 — 2 8 1
WP – Zach Berg.
2B – Brevin Owen, Ty McAninch, Mitch Osborne.