Western Nevada wins to send Shelton home
A balk turned the tide Tuesday for Western Nevada College in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.
The Wildcats led Shelton State 3-2 in the eighth inning and had Daniel Zylstra on first after a walk. Eric Maupin flied out to right against Shelton State’s Brett Whitaker, but as he was nearing first and the ball was being thrown back to the infield, Zylstra was awarded second base and Maupin sent back to the batter’s box.
“They said I didn’t stop,” Whitaker said after Western Nevada scored two runs in the eighth and four in the ninth for a 9-2 win, eliminating the Buccaneers, last year’s JUCO runner-up, after three games and earning the Wildcats a day off.
“He didn’t stop, and that is a judgment call,” Shelton State coach Bobby Sprowl said of the balk, which was called when Whitaker’s windup didn’t stop at the belt.
After a lengthy discussion between Sprowl and the second-base umpire, Maupin laced Whitaker’s next pitch into the gap in right-center for an RBI double. He took third on a passed ball and scored on a base hit to left center by Jay Skilton.
“That’s a big momentum shift when you think you have an out and it gets called back and you get a big hit,” said Maupin, who went 2 for 5, drove in two runs and scored two. “That was good for us and I think it kind of broke their back.”
Whitaker admitted the balk call shook him up, and the Bucs never recovered.
Shelton State scored one run in the second and another in the third to tie the game at 2-2. After Nick Vickerson tripled and scored in the third, though, Western Nevada’s Jordan Lewis was nearly unhittable.
He allowed only three more base runners through the eighth inning and none of them got past first.
“Their lefty was too quick for us today,” Sprowl said. “He was the difference in the game. He commanded the strike zone with three different pitches.”
Lewis said he tried to keep mixing his pitches to keep the Bucs from sitting on any one pitch.
“Just a lot of mixing up my pitches,” Lewis said. “My catcher, Jerome (Peña) does a good job of mixing it up. Keeping it at the knees and hitting spots was key today.”
He allowed two runs on six hits, walked one and struck out seven.
The balk call helped Lewis relax a little bit after stretching the one-run lead to three.
“That was huge,” Lewis said. “That could have gotten their momentum going a little bit to get back in it, but for Maupy to come back with a double from just popping up was big for us to get going.”