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WNCC baseball drops NJC 12-11, makes playoffs that begin Friday
 April 30, 2013

Western Nebraska Community College’s Zach Ostergard’s bases-clearing double in the fifth inning of the second game was the spark the Cougars needed as they came back to drop Northeastern Junior College 12-11 of a doubleheader Monday afternoon at Cleveland Field.

                WNCC, who fell 11-1 in the opening contest, needed at least one victory to make the playoffs. And the Cougars’ gutsy comeback was what sent the Cougars into the playoffs.

                “This is a huge win. It shows what we are as a team and shows how well we can work together and overcome everything,” Ostergard said. “We have been able to overcome everything this whole season, which is big for us. We are going to carry it on into the playoffs and do our thing in the playoffs.

                “Now, in the playoffs, we have to just keep what we are doing. We have to stay focused in practice. This is a big win, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We have to stay humble, stay as a team, work hard, and just get things done.”

                Ostergard said that the key was staying focused and not giving up.

                “Coach [Mike Jones] always told us that we will mess up, make mistakes, and bad things will happen because it is baseball,” he said. “We just have to overcome it and he said someone has to step up and I am glad that I was able to do that for our team.”

                WNCC will face No. 1 seed Northeastern Junior College in the first-round, best 2-of-3 series that starts Friday in Sterling at 2 p.m. The other first-round pairing has No. 2 Lamar Community College hosting No. 3 Otero Junior College.  WNCC opens the playoffs on Friday at 2 p.m. in Sterling, Colo.

                WNCC is actually playing some of its best ball right now, having won six of their last seven contests, including taking four games from McCook Community College on Saturday and Sunday.

                Ostergard said they are playing well right know.

                “This stretch of wins shows what we have been made of the whole season,” he said. “We have been struggling the whole year and winning those last five games before today [Monday} were big confidence boosters.”

                WNCC needed just one win to make the playoffs and after they dropped the first game to NJC 11-1, things didn’t look peachy. The second game, however, the Cougars put a totally different team on the field.

                NJC opened the second game with two first-inning runs, but WNCC quickly tied the game in the bottom of the inning on Ozzy Gonzalez 2-run home run.

                WNCC opened up the contest with a five-run third inning to take a 7-2 lead. Anthony Delgado led off the third with a solo home run. Nick Vanthillo followed with a double. Cameron Snyder came through with a 2-run double. After two outs, WNCC scored two more runs on a JT Core single.

                NJC would come back to grab a 10-7 lead with four runs each in the fourth and fifth inning. WNCC, however, wouldn’t panic as they responded with three runs of their own in the fifth on just one hit, Ostergard’s base-loaded, two-out double to tie the game at 10-10.

                WNCC retook the lead 12-10 with two runs in the sixth and it all started with Vanthillo reaching base after a dropped third strike throw that went bad.  Vanthillo would later score the go-ahead run on an errand throw. Alex Michaud would then drive in the 12th run with a single.

                NJC made a seventh rally, scoring once, but Grant Piccolli game in to get the save and send the Cougars into the playoffs.

                Cedric Desmedt picked up the win on the mound, going just 2 1/3 innings in relieve of starter John Timmins and reliever Challis Wright. Desmedt allowed four hits and three runs, while striking out two. Piccolli got the final two outs in allowing just one hit.

                WNCC pounded out 10 with five extra base hits. Core led the way with a 3-for-3 game with two RBIs and two runs scored. Vanthillo, Snyder and Ostergard all had doubles in the game, while Delgado and Gonzalez had home runs. Ostergard finished the game with three RBIs.

                In the opening game, the Cougars managed just two hits in the contest. The only run was scored by Michaud, who scored on a Gabriel DeLa Rosa single in the second inning.

                WNCC earned their playoff spot because of what they did over the weekend at McCook, taking all four games. On Sunday, the Cougars won 14-3 and 6-3 to keep their hopes alive.

                In Sunday’s games, Gering’s Grant Rimington picked up both wins. The right-handed sophomore went six strong innings and received plenty of offensive support in the 14-3 first game. Rimington also got the win in the second game, pitching the final three innings in relief.

                Sunday’s first game saw Nick Vanthillo finish with five RBIs on three hits, including two doubles and a home run as the Cougars. Vanthillo was one of three Cougars to finish with multiple hits. Anthony Delgado had three runs scored along with a double and two RBIs, while Ozzy Gonzalez had a double and RBI. Gabriel DeLa Rosa had the only other extra base hit, a home run.

                The second game was tighter, but the Cougars prevailed. WNCC pounded out 11 hits, including three with two hits each. Delgado went 2-for-4 with a RBI and a home run; Gonzalez went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs, and Michaud was 2-for-3 with a double and RBI. Garcia had a double in the game as well.

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