RENO -- Thanks to J.T. Sherman and Chris Dickerson, the University of Nevada baseball team may have jump started its season.
Sherman pitched strong eight innings for the win and Dickerson had a break out game as Nevada defeated UNLV 14-6 on Saturday at Peccole Park. Dickerson, who came into the game hitting .150, had three hits and four RBIs, including a two-run home run. Brett Hayes, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Ryan Strain all hit homers as well for the Wolf Pack.
Sherman struck out four and didn't walk a batter for Nevada. "Sherman did a great job of pitching to both sides of the plate," Wolf Pack coach Gary Powers said. "He had command of all of his pitches. When you hit your spots, you have a chance."
In the first four innings, Sherman induced eight groundballs for nine outs, including a double play. He retired the side in order in the first, third, fourth and seventh innings.
Dickerson said he didn't have an explanation for why he's struggled, other than that he's been on the road.
"I don't know, it's just one of those things," he said. "Every time I get back home for the first time, my swing gets back into order. I've been seeing the ball well for the past couple of weeks."
Powers noted that Dickerson missed most of the fall with an injury, which could have contributed to his slow start. Dickerson said he's also been spending extra time in batting practice and it apparently helped on Saturday.
Nevada jumped out in front when Dickerson reached on an error and Hayes followed with a two-run shot over the 400-foot sign to straightaway center field. Erick Streelman then singled and advanced to third on a balk and passed ball. He scored on Kouzmanoff's sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.
Fernando Valenzuela, the son of the former Los Angeles Dodgers' pitching great, homered for UNLV to cut the lead to 3-1 in the second. Strain responded with his second career home run to make it 4-1 and added an RBI single in the third to make it 5-1.
In the fifth, Valenzuela singled and Patrick Dobson and Robert Vankirk both doubled for UNLV to cut the lead to 5-3.
But three straight walks and a balk gave Nevada a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth. Dickerson followed with an RBI single and Hayes executed a squeeze play to make it 8-3.
Kouzmanoff hit a solo shot in the sixth and Dickerson belted a two-run shot in the seventh.
"I just spun on the fastball and got a good piece of it," Dickerson said.
Tony Cappuccilli hit an RBI double in the eighth as Nevada extended its lead to 14-4.
Powers decided to pull Sherman after the eighth in favor of Bryan Johnson.
"He'd done his job," said Powers about Sherman. "There was no reason to put him back out there."
But Johnson struggled, allowing a two-run home run to Dobson. "He's trying to do too much," Powers said. "He was trying to be too fine."
After Johnson hit a batter to load the bases with one out, Powers made a visit to the mound to tell Johnson to throw strikes and let his infield do the job. Johnson did just that, inducing Andrew D'Angelo to hit into a game-ending double play.
Hayes had two hits and four RBIs, Strain, Streelman and Robert Marcial all had two hits and Benn Mummy added a hit for Nevada.