April 17, 2013

By Trevor Varley: Sports Information Director

The NJC Plainsmen Baseball team had a rare opportunity this past weekend to pick up a little home field advantage.  With 8+ inches of snow in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, the weekend conference four pack was moved to the friendly confines of Plainsmen Park.  NJC took full advantage by winning the weekend series 3 games to 4, separating themselves from the Cougars in league standings.

Game 1 featured a classic pitchers dual between NJC hurler Brennan Henry and WNCC’s Challis Wright.  Henry went a complete game scattering 6 hits while giving up one unearned run.  NJC’s only offense came by way of the long ball, with freshman Brandon Baeckel (Loveland, CO) hitting his second home run of the year in the first inning.  Western Nebraska answered with an unearned run in the 5th inning to tie the score at 1-1.  After Henry pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the 7th inning, NJC decided to finish with some fireworks in the bottom of the last frame.  Catcher Jordan Procyshen (Calgary, Alberta) came to the plate with one out and hammered his 9th homer of the year over the left centerfield wall to walk off with a 2-1 victory.  Henry moves to 7-2 on the season with the complete game victory.

Game 2 saw the NJC offense explode for 11 runs on 14 hits in a game shortened due to the mercy rule.  NJC starter Ryan Reno was back to his old ways going a complete game while facing 3 batters over the minimum faced in the contest.  Reno gave up 2 hits and 1 unearned run, while walking 1 and striking out 7.  Reno moves to 9-1 on the season with a stifling 1.12 ERA.  NJC’s offense was powered once again by Brandon Baeckel.  Baeckel was 3-4 on the game with a double and a home run while driving in 3 rbi’s.  Sophomore David Head (Claremont, Ontario) also chipped in with a 2-4 performance while driving in 3 runs.

Sunday’s first game saw the two team’s battle back and forth in the first and second innings before NJC opened the game up with an 11 run third frame.  Thanks to a couple of key WNCC errors and the NJC long ball, once again the contest was shortened by the mercy rule.  Offensively, NJC was powered by several key members in their lineup.  Sophomore Jerid Huggins (Woodland Park, CO) was part of two back to back homers on the day.  Huggins was 2-3 with 2 home runs and 2 rbi’s.  Freshman JJ Bissell (Fort Collins, CO) hit his national leading 12th home run of the year while teammate Jordan Procyshen kept pace with his #2 national ranking 10th home run of the season.  NJC received a home run from Sophomore Edwin Bell (Cherry Creek, CO) as he went 2-3 in the contest.  Sophomore Cody Artalejo (Denver, CO) moved his record to 5-4 after going a complete game winning his 4th game in a row.  Artalejo scattered 6 hits and gave up 2 earned runs in the 18-6 victory.  Artalejo struck out 8 and walked 4 in route to the win.

Sunday’s finale saw WNCC bounce back to take the final game of the weekend behind a strong pitching performance from starter Nick Vanthillo.  NJC threatened the whole game, but couldn’t find the key hit to get their offense rolling.  NJC was led offensively by Sophomore Ben Chamberlin (Denver, CO) with a 2-4 performance with 2 doubles and 1 rbi.  Sophomore Jordan Procyshen was also 3-4, Brandon Baeckel and Taylor Vincent had 2 hits apiece in the contest.  Freshman Jacob Dittman (Colorado Springs, CO) was tagged with the loss going 5 innings and giving up 7 earned runs.  Dittman struck out 7 and walked 2 in the losing performance.

The Plainsmen move to 28-19 on the season and 16-7 in Region IX play.  NJC travels to McCook this Thursday for a mid-week 9 inning contest with MCC before returning home this weekend to take on Otero Junior College.  April 20th and 21st is scheduled for 1:00pm MST as the Plainsmen and Rattlers battle to host the first round of Region IX Tournament play.  Get out and support your Plainsmen in their last regular season home games of the year.