TRINIDAD, Colo. – The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team is one win away from capturing the Region IX baseball title after topping Lamar Community College 6-5 on Saturday.
The Cougars, who last won the regional title in 2007, will face Lamar today for the championship Sunday at noon in Trinidad, Colorado. Lamar needs to win twice to win the title, while WNCC needs just one win.
Other scores in the tournament saw Trinidad State eliminate Northeastern Junior College 3-1 and then in the nightcap, Lamar top Trinidad 14-6.
WNCC head coach Mike Jones said this is huge for the Cougars to play for a regional title.
"it means a lot and shows the progress of this team over the course of the entire season," Jones said. "it just shows that the hard work is paying off. They have learned so much and they have grown a lot as people and players. It definitely is a credit to the guys."
A big key in the win was jumping on Lamar early and then letting the defense take care of the rest.
"We played really well. We were able to put up some runs early and had solid at bats," Jones said. "We got the lead early and were able to hang on late."
Jones said that when the defense plays tough, they can win games.
"For us our pitching and defense has always been one of our strengths," Jones said. "So, if we can get a lead early like that, it allows our defense to take care of the ball and puts us in a good position."
WNCC did exactly that.
WNCC scored five in the first on three hits. After Arnoldo Maltos-Garcia walked, Mitch Osborne doubled. Dermot Fritsch followed with a 2-run hit. Brevin Owen then singled and Ethan Miller launched a 3-run home run for the 5-0 lead.
WNCC led 6-0 after scoring one in the fourth when Ty McAninch scored on a Owen single.
Things got interesting after that as Lamar scored four in the sixth to cut the lead to 6-4 and then scored one in the seventh. That was all they mustered as the Cougar bullpen shut down the door.
Lamar outhit WNCC 12-6. WNCC was led by Brevin Owen and Ty McAninch each with two hits. Both scored a run while Owen also had a RBI. Miller had one hits, a home run, with three RBIs, while Fritsch had two RBIs.
Kale Litzelman picked up the pitching win, going six innings in scattering nine hits, five runs and striking out four. SJ Mousseau tossed one inning allowing two hits, while Garrett DeClue got the save, going two innings in allowing just one hit.
WNCC 500 100 000 – 6 6 2
Lamar 000 004 100 – 5 12 5
WP – Kale Litzelman; S – Garrett DeClue.
2B – Mitch Osborne.
HR – Ethan "Q" Miller.