AMARILLO, Texas – The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team opened Empire Conference play with a split of Lamar Community College in Amarillo, Texas, Friday afternoon.
The Cougars and Lamar were slated to play in Lamar, Colorado, but because of snow, the game got moved to the Texas Panhandle. WNCC head coach Mike Jones said they had a good outing on the mound and in the field.
WNCC was in both games. The first game was a pitcher's battle with Zach Berg tossing a 2-hitter, but surrendered a first-inning solo homerun to give Lamar the 1-0 win. The second game saw WNCC get 120 hits to pick up the 9-4 conference win.
"We pitched and played really good defense in both games," Jones said. "In the first game, we struggled with our timing at the plate. We couldn't find any momentum offensively. Then in the second game, we came up with some really big hits with guys on base. Braden Lofink had a really big at bat for us and drove in two runs with two outs that put us up early."
With the split, the Cougars and Lamar are both 1-1 in conference and will play a 9-inning game Saturday in Amarillo. Jones said Nate Kolb will get the start on the hill.
Jones said that it is nice to start the conference season with a split against a talented Lamar squad.
"For opening up conference play and coming out with a split, we had a chance to win the first one and then we got the second one," he said. "It is big for momentum and big for confidence. Going into tomorrow, knowing that we are pitching well and playing defense, we know we will be in the game."
Zach Berg went all six innings in the first game, tossing a 2-hitter in suffering the hard-luck loss. Berg struck out one and walked one, while limiting the Lopes to just two hits.
The only run in the game was the first-inning home run.
WNCC finished the game with four hits. Amaldo Maltos-Garcia had two of the four hits with a double, while Luis Alcantara had two singles.
The second game saw the Cougars offense pick up with 10 hits. The first three innings saw neither team plate runs. WNCC broke open the game with four in the fourth and then plated five in the sixth.
Lofink got the offense started with a big 2-out double that scored John Betsch and Matt Womack with the first two runs of the game. WNCC added two more in the frame as Alcantara had a 2-out double to score Robert Fernandez and Lofink for the 4-0 lead.
Lamar added one in in the fourth and three in the fifth to tie the game. WNCC responded with five in the sixth to take a 9-4 lead on just two hits, a 2-run single by Dermot Fritsch and a single by Lofink.
Garrett DeClue came on to pitch a solid sixth and seventh inning for the win.
WNCC was led at the plate by Alcantara, Fritsch, Womack, and Lofink each with two hits. Lofink scored two runs and had two RBIs, while Alcantara, Fritsch, and Ethan Miller each had two RBIs. Eight different players scored a run for the Cougars in the win.
Hunter Parker picked up the win on the hill, tossing a third of an inning in relief of Kale Litzelman. Parker allowed a hit and struck out one. Litzelman went 4 2/3 innings in allowing seven hits and four runs while striking out four. Garrett DeClue finished off the game tossing two innings in allowing a hit with a strikeout.
WNCC 000 000 0 – 0 4 1
Lamar 100 000 x – 1 2 0
LP – Zach Berg.
2B – Amaldo Maltos-Garcia.
WNCC (4-6) 000 405 0 – 9 10 1
Lamar 000 130 0 – 4 9 3
WP – Hunter Parker.