The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team put together stellar pitching, timely offensive hits, and excellent defense in taking a doubleheader from Empire Conference-leading Southeast Community College Sunday afternoon at Cleveland Field.

The first game saw Adrian Short and Hunter McCollum combine on a 2-hitter as the Cougars made the most of their four hits in recording the 5-2 win.

The second game saw Eli Hernandez toss a nice contest while the offense got six extra base hits in recording the 7-3 win.

The win moves the Cougars to 11-33 on the season and 9-20 in the Empire Conference North division. Southeast drops to 37-13 overall and 26-5 in the North. McCook is in second in the North at 18-12 while Northeastern Junior College is 16-15.

WNCC will be back in action Thursday when they host Trinidad State College in a rescheduled contest before wrapping up the regular season with road games at McCook Community College on Saturday and Sunday.

Short said it was a perfect performance for his team in both games.

“We came out here and had a lot more energy than last couple days. We came out and attacked from pitch one. We kept winning our at bats, winning our pitches, and played good as a team today,” Short said. “Today was great. We had it all going. Offense, defense and when you put it all together and play team baseball, you win games and that is what we did.”

Both games saw a complete team effort and Short said that is what makes this team dangerous heading into the final week of the regular season and the post-season the week after.

“It was a great team win today and hopefully we can carry this into the next couple of weeks and get ready for tournament time,” he said. “I think we have a lot of potential if we keep winning games and if we keep putting everything together like the little things, I think we have a shot at it for sure.”

The first game was a pitcher’s dual with all four pitchers from the two teams battling it out. The pitchers combined for 23 strikeouts and allowed just six hits. WNCC won the hit battle 4-2 with three of their four hits going for extra base hits.

Shintaro Inoue and Ashton Ross each had a double while Max Adam had a triple. Adam had three RBIs on the day.

Short got the win going six innings in allowing two hits, one earned run, while striking out 11 and walking just two. McCollum got the save, striking out one and hitting just one batter, before closing out the game on a double-play grounder.

The big thing is WNCC got the hits when they needed. Southeast took the early 1-0 lead in the third on an error. WNCC came back and tied the game in the fourth when Eli Hernandez was hit by a pitch with two outs and scored on a Ross double.

Southeast took a 2-1 lead with a run in the fifth after the lead-off batter was hit by a pitch and scored on a single.

WNCC immediately took control in the bottom of the fifth with four runs on just three hits. WNCC loaded the bases after Tyler Easter and Ethan Johnson walked and then Isaac Smith singled to load the bases. Adam then tripled to score three runs and Adam came in to score on a ground out for the 5-2 lead.

Short put two batters on by free passes, but also struck out all three batters. McCollum then tossed the seventh where he hit the first batter, but struck out the second on three pitches and then got the game-ending double play.

The second game was identical to the first for the Cougars as they finished with 10 hits in the contest and six of the hits were extra base hits. The Cougars also got stellar pitching from all three pitchers. Hernandez got the win going five innings in allowing three hits, one run, and striking out five.

Thibault Mercadier tossed the next three innings in allowing two hits and two runs while striking out three. Archer Blumenshein tossed the ninth to get the win with one strikeout.

Offensively, WNCC outhit Southeast 10-5. Adam and Bryce Peterson each had two hits. Adam had a double with a run scored while Peterson had a home run with two runs scored and an RBI. Book had a home run with three RBIs and Hernandez had a double with two RBIs.

The offense started early for both teams as Southeast scored one in the first on just one hit. WNCC answered in the bottom of the first with four runs. Adam and Peterson started things with a single. Adam scored on an Inoue single to tie the game. Hernandez followed with a double to score two runs and Hernandez came in to score on a Drew Book groundout for the 4-1 lead.

Southeast came right back in the second inning as they loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. Starting pitcher Hernandez got a strikeout and then got a double play to avoid any runs coming across.

WNCC went up 7-1 when they scored three in the fourth. Peterson started things with a lead-off home run. Inoue then walked and Book read a perfect pitch and rocketed over the centerfield fence for the 7-1 lead.

After that, Southeast scored single runs in the sixth and eighth, but that was all they could get as WNCC got the win.

Game 1

Southeast            001 010 0 – 2 2 0

WNCC                   000 140 x – 5 4 1

WP – Adrian Short; S – Hunter McCollum.

2B – Shintaro Inoue, Ashton Ross.

3B – Max Adam.

Game 2

Southeast            100 001 010 – 3 5 1

WNCC                   400 300 00x – 7 10 0

WP – Eli Hernandez; S – Archer Blumenshein.

2B – Max Adam, Roangeraud Fraai, Eli Hernandez, Isaac Smith.

HR – Drew Book, Bryce Peterson.