COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team stayed alive at the Region IX baseball tournament in Colorado Springs, Colorado, after splitting a pair of games on Friday.

                The Cougars outhit Southeast Community College 14-8, but couldn’t get the clutch hit and fell to the Bobcats 6-5 in the semifinals. That sent the Cougars into an elimination game against McCook Community College and WNCC got a strong pitching performance from Zane Hendrickx to capture the 13-7 win.

                That moves the Cougars into another elimination game this morning when they face Otero College. Otero lost a semifinal game to Northeastern Junior College 14-3. NJC and Southeast play in the winner’s bracket for a berth in Sunday’s championship game.

                Friday’s game with McCook saw the Cougars lead from start to finish after opening with five runs in the second and adding another four in the fourth for a 9-2 lead.

                The second started with three straight walks. Hunter McCollum scored the first run with a sacrifice fly. WNCC made it 3-0 after Bryce Peterson reached on an error that scored two more runs. WNCC added two more runs as Ashton Ross had a 2-run double to make it 5-0.

                McCook added two in the third, but WNCC answered with four in the fourth. Peterson led off with a bunt single. Shintaro Inoue earned a walk followed by Ross getting hit by a pitch. Peterson scored on a sacrifice fly and then Inoue scored on a 2-out fielding error. Cal Johnson then scored two more runs with a double for the 9-2 lead.

                WNCC added three more in the sixth. Ross got a double and scored on Tyler Easter’s double. WNCC added two more runs for the 12-4 lead.

                McCook added three in the sixth to make it 12-7, but WNCC added an insurance run in the seventh for the final margin.

                WNCC had nine hits with five of those hits doubles. Ross led the way with a 3-for-4 game with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI. Peterson had two hits with a double, whole Easter and Johnson each had two RBIs.

                Hendrickx went eight innings in allowing seven hits, seven runs and striking out five. Gus Allred tossed the ninth and allowed just one hit.

                In the first game of the day against Southeast, it was a game that the Cougars squandered scoring opportunities. Southeast took the lead with a run in the second. WNCC tied the game with a run in the fourth when Easter led off with a triple and scored on a Kensei Oikawa single.

                Southeast answered with three in the bottom of the fourth to lead 4-1. WNCC added two in the fifth when Hunter McCollum led off with a solo home run. Inoue later doubled and scored on a 2-out single by Easter to make it 4-3.

                Southeast added single runs in the fifth and sixth for a 6-3 lead. WNCC scored one in the seventh to make it 6-4. The ninth inning saw Peterson lead off with a double followed by a long single by Inoue. Peterson scored on a sacrifice fly by Easter that was inches from going out for a home run, but it was only a sac fly. That was all the scoring for the Cougars.


                WNCC outhit Southeast 14-8. Inoue led the way with a 4-for-5 game with two doubles. Peterson had three hits with a double and two runs scored. Easter had three this with a triple, two RBIs, and a run scored. Kensei Oikawa also had two hits.


Game 1

WNCC                000 120 101 – 5 14 1
Southeast        010 311 00x – 6 8 0

LP – Valentin Blanc.

2B – Shintaro Inoue 2, Bryce Peterson.

3B – Tyler Easter.

HR – Hunter McCollum.


Game 2

WNCC                050 403 100 – 13 9 0
McCook             002 113 000 – 7 8 5

WP – Zane Hendrickx.

2B – Ashton Ross 2, Cal Johnson, Bryce Peterson, Tyler Easter.