RENO - There are no gimmees in the Western Athletic Conference. Just ask Nevada baseball coach Gary Powers.
After handing Hawai'i two straight defeats, the struggling Rainbows played small ball in the top of the ninth to push across a run and beat Nevada 8-7 Sunday in the series finale at Peccole Park.
The loss dropped Nevada to 17-12 overall and 6-3 in WAC play. San Jose State leads the conference at 8-4.
Nevada scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 7, thanks to key hits by the bottom three hitters in the order - Dayton's Matt Bowman, Eric Newman and Carlos Madrid - and you figured Hawai'i would fold as it did the last two days.
However, Hawai'i pushed across a single run in the ninth and Nevada went 1-2-3 in the ninth against Darrell Fisherbaugh (3-1), who had been roughed up in the eighth.
"Every game is going to be that way," Powers said. "I knew going in, the 30 games there would be 30 dogfights, if you want to put it that way.
"We had our chances (10 left on base) more than once and didn't take advantage of them. We left too many runners on base. The game wasn't lost in the ninth. It was lost in the fourth or fifth when we left guys on base."
For Hawai'i, the win was huge. It was only the second time in school history the Rainbows had beaten the Pack in Reno.
"We won one game last year, and all the local media talked about what an incredible feat that way," Hawai'i coach Mike Trapasso said. "I didn't realize that it was the first time we had won here. Obviously to get another one after the way things have been going for us was big.
"The easiest thing would have been to say, 'Here we go again when they tied it up.' The key was we were able to get out of the eighth with the score tied."
Indeed. Hawai'i, leading 7-6, intentionally walked Jacob Butler to load the bases with one out, electing to face Ben Mummy, who had spoiled that strategy Saturday with a two-run single. This time Mummy tied the game with a sacrifice fly. Fisherbaugh fanned Shawn Scobee to end the inning.
It was a rough weekend for Scobee, who after being named WAC Player of the Week, went 1 for 14 with 10 strikeouts. Scobee stranded 10 runners in the three games.
For the second straight day, Powers batted Brett Hayes first and the junior catcher went 2 for 4 and drove in three runs with a two-run homer and run-scoring single. He drove in Nevada's first three runs, giving the Pack a short-lived 3-2 lead.
Powers isn't sure how long the experiment will continue.
"We'll see," he said. "A lot of it doesn't have anything to do with him. It's the rest of the lineup. I don't like to have three guys that are struggling hitting in a row, and our 8, 9 and 1 hitters had been struggling. It's worked out the last two days."
Hayes has gone 4-for-9 since moving from second to first in the order. Madrid has gone 5-for-7 since moving down to No. 9. Bowman had a nice series, going 4-for-9 and making a couple of nice solid defensive plays.
The hitters actually did a nice job with their seven-run output, but starter Travis Sutton, who has been bothered by arm problems, didn't have good command. He allowed six earned runs and 12 hits in seven-plus innings before yielding to Matt Renfree.
"He was inconsistent today," Powers said. "He lost command of his off-speed pitches and got behind the hitters when he did try to challenge them early in the game. Too many leadoff hitters got on. "
Four times Hawai'i's leadoff hitter reached base against Sutton, and all four times he scored. Six of the Rainbows' 12 hits went for extra bases - five doubles and a two-run homer by Nathan Thurber that gave Hawai'i a 5-3 lead.
NOTES: Nevada returns to action Tuesday at 2 p.m. when it hosts Pacific. Freshman Steve Taylor is expected to start, but Powers indicated he will use most of his bullpen ... The win by the Rainbows snapped a 10-game road losing streak ... Nevada hosts San Jose State next weekend.
n Darrell Moody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281