PUEBLO, Colo. – The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team split an Empire Conference doubleheader Saturday in contrasting fashion in Pueblo, Colorado.

                The first game saw the Cougars score five times in the fifth and Valentin Blanc went the distance, striking out six in helping the Cougars to the 5-2 win.

                The second game saw an offensive contest with the teams combining for 31 runs and 34 hits. In the end, Trinidad State got two solo home runs in the bottom of the ninth to claim the 16-15 win.

                WNCC moves to 16-17 on the season and are still in first in the conference standings at 7-1 just ahead of McCook, who split contests with Otero on Saturday. McCook is 6-2.

                WNCC will be back at home on Tuesday when they host Garden City Community College in a doubleheader.

                The first game was a defensive contest. Trinidad scored first when they plated two in the fourth. WNCC came right back in the fifth and put up five runs for the 5-2 lead.

                The fifth started when Ashton Ross doubled followed by a single by Ryan Platt. With two outs, Dylan Harris singled home Ross and Kensei Oikawa to tie the game. WNCC loaded the bases and Byrce Peterson drew a walk to force in the go-ahead run. Tyler Easter followed with a 2-run double for the lead.

                WNCC had nine hits in the contest. McCollum, Easter, and Platt all had two hits. Easter and Dylan Harris each had two RBIs.

                Blanc had the complete game win with seven innings pitched in striking out six and scattering five hits and allowing just two runs.

                The second game saw WNCC hole a comfortable lead at 7-0 after 4 ½ innings. WNCC plated two in the first on run-scoring singles by Peterson and Ross for the 2-0 lead. The Cougars added another run in the fourth when Alex Ainsworth singled and scored on a Mathieu Levesque triple.

                The Cougars looked sharp in the fifth with four runs to go up 7-0. The fifth saw Inoue get a solo home run followed by Ross blasting a 2-run home run for 6-0 lead. WNCC got a third home run in the frame when Ainsworth went deep.

                Trinidad came right back to score five times in the fifth and sixth innings to lead 10-7. WNCC retook the lead with five runs in the seventh to go up 12-10. The seventh saw Peterson start things with a double and scored on a Platt sacrifice fly. WNCC loaded the bases with two outs when Caleb Caciari singled in two runs to tie the game. McCollum added two more runs when he tripled to score two.

                Trinidad answered with two in the seventh to knot the score. WNCC answered the Trojans two runs with two of their own in the eighth when Peterson doubled and scored the go-ahead run on a double by Ross. Ross came in to score on a balk for the 14-12 lead.

                Trinidad tied the game at 14 with two in the bottom of the eighth.

                That set up the ninth and WNCC scored one as Caciari was hit by a pitch and scored on a Inoue sacrifice fly.

                WNCC got the first two Trinidad batters out in the ninth, but the Trojans got back-to-back home runs to earn the walk-off win.

                WNCC had 16 hits compared to 18 for Trinidad. Peterson led the way with four hits with four runs scored and two doubles. Ross and Ainsworth each had three hits. Ross had a double, home run, four RBIs, and three runs scored, while Ainsworth had a home run with three runs scored.

Game 1

WNCC                 000 050 0 – 5 9 0

Trinidad               000 200 0 – 2 5 0

WP – Valentin Blanc.

2B – Ashton Ross, Hunter McCollum, Shintaro Inoue, Tyler Easter.

Game 2
WNCC                 200 140 521 – 15 16 0
Trinidad               000 055 222 – 16 18 2

LP – Gus Allred.

2B – Bryce Peterson 2, Ashton Ross.

3B – Hunter McCollum, Mathieu Levesque.

HR – Alex Ainsworth, Ashton Ross, Shintaro Inoue.