Cougars keep postseason hopes alive
The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team scored the runs when they needed in claiming an Empire Conference game over McCook Community College 7-4 Thursday afternoon at Cleveland Field.
The win was much needed for the Cougars as they keep that hope alive for the final playoff berth. The Cougars will now head to McCook for a four-game series this weekend before wrapping up the regular season Monday at home against Northeastern Junior College.
John Timmins, who threw 6 2/3 strong innings before giving way to winning picture Challis Wright, said the team played well and they needed this win for confidence.
"I thought we played really well. We kept the errors down which have been messing us up a lot," the freshman from Bellevue said. "We had good defense behind us [the pitchers] and we had guys come through with hits."
What makes this win extremely pleasant is the team still has their eyes set on the playoffs, and if they can go on a seven-game winning streak, it not only could put them in the playoffs, but also make the team's season.
"This is a good start to the weekend and we know what we have to do," Timmins said. "Winning the last seven games would be really amazing. As a team we are playing our best baseball. We are strong as a team. Getting these wins [to end the season] will really help, especially for the sophomores that have put in all the work."
The Cougars won the game by responding with clutch hits throughout the contest. WNCC finished the game with just 10 hits, but the 10 hits came at key times.
Zach Ostergard led the way from the plate with a 3-for-4 day with two RBIs, a run scored, and two stolen bases.
WNCC also received two-hit performances from JT Core, Ozzy Gonzalez and Alex Michaud. Gonzalez finished with triple and a RBI, while Michard had a RBI and run scored.
McCook jumped on the scoreboard first, scoring once in the first inning on three hits. The Cougars, however, came right back and answered. Delgado led off with a double and scored on a Gonzalez ground out to tie the game.
WNCC went up 2-1 with a single run in the second as Michaud led off with a single and scored on a Ostergard single. The lead stayed that way until the sixth when Keeton Krause walked, stole second, moved to third on a passed ball, and finally scoring on a Nick Vantillo ground out.
The Indians charged back scoring twice in the seventh on just one hit with two outs to tie the game at 3-3. Once again, WNCC immediately answered with a run in the bottom of the seventh. Gonzalez started things with a one-out triple and scored on a fielder's choice to shortstop to go back in front by a run.
The Cougars put the game away in the eighth with three runs on four singles and a fielding error to go up 7-3, even though McCook made a ninth inning rally. Timmins said anytime a team can add late insurance runs, it makes the relief pitcher's job much easier.
"It is a relief to get the late runs because it makes the pitcher's job easier that is coming in," he said. "You then know that if you happen to give them a run or two, you still can seal the game up."
Wright picked up the win, tossing just 1 1/3 innings in relief, scattering three hits and striking out one. Timmins allowed seven hits and three runs in his work on the mound. Timmons also struck out five. Cedric Desmedt tossed the ninth in allowing two hits and one run.
McCook 100 000 201 -- 4 12 3
WNCC 110 001 13x -- 7 10 2
WP -- Challis Wright; 2B -- Anthony Delgado; 3B -- Ozzy Gonzalez.
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