RENO -- The Rice Owls, ranked No. 3 in the country, are good enough that you don't have to give them runs. They're good enough that if you leave a dozen players on base, they'll make you look pretty bad.
The University of Nevada should know that by now. If not before this weekend, certainly after Saturday's game. The Wolf Pack, hoping to bounce back from a 9-4 loss on Friday, fell to the Owls again, this time 12-3 in front of 1,609 fans at Peccole Park.
"We had our chances to get control of the game but we didn't," said Nevada coach Gary Powers. "We left a lot of runners on base and you can't do that."
Nevada's Mateo Miramontes (4-5) lost his first decision since winning two straight. He left the game in the top of the seventh down 4-2. Freshman Ryan Johnson replaced him and ended giving up three runs on three hits. Miramontes threw two wild pitches to go along with three Wolf Pack errors, which made the difference early on.
"We didn't support him on defense," Powers said of Miramontes. "We get opportunities to make plays and we did not make the plays. Then when we don't make those plays, it turns into a big inning."
The Owls (30-8 overall, 13-1 Western Athletic Conference) scored two runs in the second, the first off a Miramontes' wild pitch and the other off of A.J. Porifio's RBI single. They went up 3-0 in the fourth after Miramontes' balk scored Jeff Blackinton. It was his second balk of the game and the fifth balk called in the series. On Friday, Carson High graduate Darrell Rasner was called twice for balks and Johnson was called for one in the seventh inning on Saturday.
In the fourth, Jeff Tolotti hit his second solo homer of the series off Rice starter Phillip Humber (7-1). Craig Markel followed with an RBI double to score Jacob Butler, who started for Mike Gillies at third base, to make it 3-2. That was the closest Nevada (16-18, 4-7) would get.
Rice added another run in the fifth and three more in the seventh to go up 7-3. And just like in Friday's game, the Owls'
Hunter Brown hit a two-run homer in the ninth to put his team up 9-3. Ryan Leake and Reno High grad David Woods both pitched in the ninth, but neither had much success. Leake was thrown out of the game after the umpire thought he intentionally hit Chris Kolkhorst and Woods came in and gave up three hits and three runs.
The Owls had 26 base runners in the game, 16 off hits, six off walks, two off errors, and two by hit batters. Both teams stranded 12 runners on base. Josh Laidlaw went 3-for-3 and Tolotti 2-for-5 to lead Nevada. Austin Davis was 3-for-6 and Enrique Cruz 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the Owls.
"They do a nice job of that (getting guys on base). They come out and play for nine innings," Powers said. "We just need to put every game behind us and come out and be the best team we can be."
The two teams conclude their three-game series today at 1 p.m.