It was only fitting that senior Clint Kofmehl struck out the side to nail down Gary Powers' 700th career win Sunday afternoon against Fresno State.
Kofmehl had a promising college career cut short by injury. As a freshman in 2001, he compiled a 3-2 record with three saves and a 4.89 ERA. He had a win and save against WAC champion Rice.
He had labra surgery after his freshman year and also suffered a knee surgery that cost him a season. He went through a total of three reconstructive surgeries trying to get back to the team.
He was on the team this year, but that was mainly to reward his hard work and tenacious comeback effort. The velocity was gone. Before Sunday's outing (1 run, 1 hit, 1 inning), Kofmehl had appeared in three games. He allowed seven runs and seven hits, including three homers.
Powers admires Kofmehl. Powers likes true-grit guys, and you have to put Kofmehl in that category. Powers has seen way too many guys quit because of injury or lack of playing time over the course of his 23 years at Nevada. Powers was right in giving him one last chance to stand on the pitching mound at Peccole Park.
He gave up a leadoff homer, but struck out the next three hitters to end the game.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander admits he thought about quitting on more than one occasion.
"I thought about it a couple of times," he said after the 20-7 victory Sunday. "The coaches and my parents encouraged me to stick with it.
"I had a feeling I might pitch, especially when we started winning (big). Then he told me to get ready for the ninth. It (hard work) was worth it to get to this point."
Kofmehl got hugs and handshakes from most of the team as he came off the field, and he was emotional as he took pictures with pitching coach Stan Stolte and several of his teammates.
Both Eric Newman and Carlos Madrid had nice career-ending games, too.
Newman finished the year at .268 and tripled home one run in the second and singled home a run in the eighth. Madrid set a career record with three doubles in one game. The senior from Reed finished with a .250 average, and was definitely a crowd favorite.
Nevada could have a whole new look between graduation and professional baseball. Many think that Dayton's Matt Bowman, who hit .280 as a freshman, may be the only starting position player back.
First baseman Ben Mummy said he's been getting a lot of interest from the Rangers and Reds, and once he drives back to Washington, he'll evaluate his situation in terms of what kind of money he'll need to sign.
Shawn Scobee, who was drafted in the fifth round out of Rio Linda High School in the Sacramento area, should get some interest after hitting 18 homers and driving in 39 runs. Shortstop Robert Marcial said he's been getting some interest recently, and it may not take much to sign him because he's not wild about school.
Hayes, obviously, could be picked in the first three rounds. Baseball America has him ranked among the top 60 players in the nation.
Butler is another guy who will get drafted somewhere in the top 20 rounds after a .343 season including 11 homers and 43 RBI. Madrid also hopes to catch on with a pro team either through the draft or an independent league.
HAYES HANDLES INJURY WELL
Junior catcher Brett Hayes is handling his thumb injury very well. He took a foul tip off the top of his left thumb, and X-rays revealed a hairline crack.
The baseball draft is June 7-8, but Hayes doesn't believe that the injury will affect his status. He was scheduled for a tryout Monday at Fenway Park.
"I don't have to wear a cast and I don't have to have surgery," said Hayes, who missed the first game of his Nevada career Sunday. "It couldn't have worked out better.
"I hope it doesn't (affect draft). It shouldn't. By the time I start playing again (summer ball or the minors), it will be all healed up. They should know what I can do by now."
Hayes has played seven different positions between Nevada and Team USA, and that's not a bad thing to have in your repertoire.
EXPERTS LIKE GRID BULLDOGS
Three publications have picked Fresno State University in the top 25 earlier this month.
CBS Sportsline and SI.com have FSU 15th. The Bulldogs are 19th in the ESPN.com rankings.
And, speaking of rankings, South Tahoe's Garrett McIntyre. who plays defensive tackle for the Bulldogs, has been ranked as the fourth-best DT in the nation. Not bad for a guy that went to Fresno as a walk-on. Many schools, including Nevada, missed the boat on that guy.
BULLDOGS GET CAL TRANSFER
Dominic McGuire, who started at the University of California last year, has left the Bears and will go to Fresno State. Under NCAA rules, McGuire must sit out next season.
McGuire left because Leon Powe will return after knee surgery next year, and McGuire figured to get a lot less playing time. McGuire, who made 23 starts, averaged 7.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
New coach Steve Cleveland has signed two JC players - 5-foot-9 Dekyron Nicks and Quinton Hosley to letters of intent. Both figure to play next season.
Freshman forward Chris Berry has decided to transfer, and a Fresno State spokesperson said over the weekend that Ja'Vance Coleman will play next year at Fresno. Coleman's status had been iffy since Ray Lopes resigned over NCAA violations earlier this spring.
LAKERS BACK AT UH
The Los Angeles Lakers will return to Honolulu for training camp and two exhibition games against the Golden State Warriors.
University of Hawai'i officials hope to earn upwards of $80,000 by hosting the Lakers' training camp and the two exhibition games.
SAME OLD OWLS
Rice clinched the conference championship with a win over San Jose State Saturday afternoon in Houston.
Rice finished 41-17 in regular-season play and 21-9 in the WAC. This is the 11th straight year Rice has won 40 games.
And, while we're on the subject of Rice, the Owls' Joe Savery established himself as one of the best players in the league. The left-handed pitcher-first baseman should have swept all the major awards - Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year. He hit over .340 and finished with an 8-1 record and a 2.87 ERA.
Fresno State's Beau Mills had one of those games you'd rather not talk about Sunday against Nevada.
Mills, who is expected to be the WAC Freshman of the Year, made four errors at third base. He did homer, but the mistakes far outweighed his one hit in the game.
n Darrell Moody can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281