RENO -- In this situation, all Chris Gimenez wanted to do was help the team. He helped the team in a big way.
After failing to lay down a bunt, Gimenez decided to hit away and did in a big way. His three-run home run gave the Wolf Pack a 5-4 lead and the spark that Nevada needed in a 17-8 win over UC Riverside on Friday at Peccole Park.
The win was arguarbly the most impressive of the year for Nevada (13-14). UC Riverside came into the game with a 21-4 record against a tough schedule, which included a sweep of two games against UCLA.
"They're a very, very good baseball team," Nevada coach Gary Powers said. "That was a very good win for us."
Nevada trailed 4-2 when it had runners at first and second with no outs and Gimenez at the plate. Gimenez decided to try to bunt on his own, but failed before belting a three-run homer.
Gimenez said he hit a slider that was low and away. He said he was trying just to put the ball in play up the middle and was fortunate to get the sweet spot of the bat on the ball.
"There was no bunt in the first place," Gimenez said. "I was just trying to put one down for the team. There was no sign. I was just trying to do it on my own."
Nevada went on to extend its lead to 7-4 in the inning on Tony Cappuccilli's two-run single.
Gimenez also added a double and another RBI when he walked to force in a run. Brett Hayes continued his impressive play offensively and defensively, picking up four hits to extend his Western Athletic Conference-leading hitting streak to 14 games.
Hayes also threw out two runners trying to steal.
"He's awesome," Nevada's Mateo Miramontes said. "He's the difference maker. I'm not the quickest guy to the play."
An expected pitchers duel between Miramontes and Riverside's A.J. Shappi never materialized. Shappi came in with a 6-0 record and a 1.81 earned run average, but was touched for eight runs, five earned, over 4 1/3 innings as Nevada gave him his first loss of the year.
Miramontes also struggled in the first three innings before Hayes noticed what the pitcher was doing wrong.
"I was overstriding so I had no control," Miramontes said. "Brett said it looked like I was hanging onto the ball too long."
The reason why Miramontes was mechanically off may have been because his breaking pitches don't work as well at the altitude of Peccole Park.
"Nothing breaks here," Miramontes said. "Everything just kind of hangs. You've got to throw your best pitch every time."
After making the adjustment, Miramontes shut Riverside down before tiring in the seventh. He improved to 5-1 after being charged with six runs, five earned, through 6 1/3 innings.
"He really struggled with his command the first three innings," Powers said.
Erick Streelman's two-run single for Nevada tied the score 2-2 in the first. RBI singles by Streelman and Cappuccilli gave the Wolf Pack an 11-6 lead in the seventh.
Nevada broke the game open when it took a 17-6 lead in the eighth, capped by Jacob Butler's two-run triple.
Hayes has been moved up and down Nevada's lineup, but looks to have found a home in the No. 2 spot.
"It doesn't matter," Hayes said. "Two I guess has been working pretty well."
Cappuccilli, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Streelman all had two hits, Chris Dickerson and Taylor Pullins each had an RBI single and Robert Marcial and Ryan Strain each added a single for Nevada.