There are two main reasons above all else why the Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team feels it can fulfill all of its wildest dreams this season.
Bradey Shipley and Tom Jameson.
"When we've had some of our better teams, we've had two guys like that at the top of our pitching staff," Wolf Pack coach Gary Powers said.
The Wolf Pack, though, hasn't had a dynamic duo, one-two punch on the mound like Shipley and Jameson since it started playing Division I baseball four decades ago.
Shipley is first in the Western Athletic Conference with a 2.12 earned run average. Jameson is right behind him in second place at 2.19. Shipley is 8-4 this year in 14 starts while Jameson is 7-2 in 14 starts. The Wolf Pack, which will open the Western Athletic Conference tournament on tonight (7 p.m.) in Mesa, Ariz., against Louisiana Tech, is 18-10 in Shipley and Jameson's 28 starts combined.
"It's been a great season," said Shipley, who lost a heartbreaking 2-0 decision at Hawaii last Thursday night. "I've matured a great deal this year."
"It's definitely been a good year," said Jameson who went six innings in the 4-2 win in 10 innings over Hawaii last Friday that earned the Pack (31-23, 11-7) a share of the WAC regular season title. "A lot of hard work has gone into it."
Shipley and Jameson are 15-6 combined for a winning percentage of .714. Since joining the WAC in 2001, the Pack has had just four other pitching combos with 15 or more wins in a season. Mateo Miramontes won 10 and Darrell Rasner won eight in 2001, Miramontes won nine and Justin Sherman won eight in 2003, and Ryan Rodriguez (11 wins) combined with Tim Schoeninger for 16 wins and Chris Scott for 15 in 2005.
Shipley and Jameson have clearly stepped into elite company in Pack pitching history this year.
No Wolf Pack pitcher with at least 10 starts in a season has ever finished the year with an earned run average under 2.93 (Rod Nettnin, 1990) in Powers' 30 seasons as head coach.
And this year there might be two.
"They have both been awesome," pitching coach Pat Flury said. "I've been so blessed to have both of them."
Put their names together (Tom Bradey) and they sound like a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Judge them separately and, well, they are the two biggest reasons why the Wolf Pack feels it has a legitimate chance to win the WAC tournament and return to the NCAA Regionals for the first time in a dozen years.
Jameson has pitched six or more innings in 10 of his last 12 starts and has allowed three or fewer earned runs in 11 of his 14 outings. Since Feb. 26 his record has been 7-1.
Shipley has pitched six or more innings in 10 of his last 11 starts and has allowed three or fewer earned runs in all but one of his 14 outings. Three of his four losses this year were by scores of 2-0 (twice) and 2-1.
Although they perform their magic separately on the mound, it's almost as if they've worked together all season long to help the Pack get back to the 30-victory plateau.
The Pack played 14 three-game series this year and never lost in both Shipley's and Jameson's starts on the same weekend. Shipley has opened the Pack's three-game weekend series and Jameson, until recently, has pitched the third and final game of the series.
"Bradey has done a great job of setting the tone for us all year and Tom has been great at stabilizing series for us," Powers said.
Powers, though, has recently moved Jameson to the No. 2 starter's role in order to set up his rotation for this week's WAC Tournament.
"You don't want to risk the possibility of being eliminated in the tournament in two games without having used one of your two main guys," Powers said.