Good bats, good arms
Warriors use solid pitching, strong hitting to top Coyotes
Wabash Valley College (Illinois) couldn’t have drawn up a better opening-game plan if they tried.
Pitching has been a strength for the Warriors all season, and things worked out to near perfection in Game 2 of the Alpine Bank World Series on Saturday.
The Warriors (49-13, 1-0 JUCO) used three pitchers, flashed some power at the plate and played good defense to beat College of Southern Nevada 11-4.
Even with the good pitching, Wabash Valley coach Rob Fournier said the team’s hitting was key.
“We’ve been getting better and better with our approach (at the plate),” he said. “Today, our guys really had quality at-bats.”
With a gusting wind blowing in different directions, there were four home runs hit in the game.
The first came from David Rodriguez in the first inning and wind had nothing to do with how far the ball went. He launched a two-run missile over new video board in right-center.
After the Coyotes took a 3-2 lead in the second, Romero Harris, who had three hits and three RBI, drilled a two-run home run of his own in the third inning to give the Warriors the lead for good at 4-3.
“The wind was blowing out today, the altitude definitely helped,” Harris said, smiling. “I think our team did a really good job barreling the baseball.”
The Warriors finished with 15 hits and used a three-run fourth to push the lead to 7-3.
Starter Max Roberts was workmanlike on the mound for Wabash Valley. The freshman left-hander struggled early but settled down to pitch five innings.
“I just tried to remain calm and limit the big inning,” Roberts said. “I didn’t have my best stuff today but our hitters really picked us up today.”
Fournier wasn’t surprised that Roberts pitched tough even after he gave up four runs.
“Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he’s so competitive, he has so much composure, he always gives you a chance,” Fournier said.
Blake Wiggins hit his second home run of the game for Southern Nevada in the fifth to cut the Warriors’ lead to 8-4.
The Coyotes (45-17, 0-1 JUCO) had their chances from that point but they couldn’t come up with the timely hit, and the Warriors kept getting key outs.
After Roberts gave up two singles to start the sixth, Fournier went to Logan Parrett, who got out of the inning unscathed.
Parrett was superb in his three innings, giving up only two hits.
In the seventh, Coyotes again had two runners on, this time with one out. Parrett got a ground ball to shortstop Jarred Watkins, who started a double play to deny the Coyotes again.
Watkins ripped a two-run double in the top of the ninth to key a three-run inning and give the Warriors the 11-4 lead.
Fournier then handed the ball to Jared Proctor in the ninth and the sophomore lefty struck out the first batter before the defense came through again to end the game when Watkins started the team’s second double play.
Fournier said the pitching plan worked perfectly.
“That’s kind of been our rotation of late and it’s established a really good pattern for us,” he said. “Parrett has been coming up extremely big for us of late. You always hope you have that one guy late in the year who gets hot, whether it’s swinging the bat or pitching, and he’s that guy.”
The coach was thrilled with how the team played in its first game in front of a big crowd five days after qualifying for JUCO.
“We came out with really good composure, a really good vibe and we were really loose,” he said.
Southern Nevada also got some good relief pitching when Alex Tisminezky came in and allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Southern Nevada had 11 hits, but couldn’t come through in the clutch.
“We left quite a few runners on in the middle innings,” coach Nick Garritano said. “But give them credit, Wabash did a great job, they pitched well.
“We were in a good spot, we just needed that key hit and that’s what this team has thrived on this year. We just couldn’t get that one key hit. It’s baseball, we’ll wake up and play (today). We have to hit the reset button in a hurry because we don’t want to be the first team to go home.”