RENO - The season is 33 games old, and it's wearing on Nevada baseball coach Gary Powers. He looks the same physically, but emotionally it's a different story.
"It's frustrating me." Powers said after Nevada gave up five ninth-inning runs, three on Justin Frash's three-run double, in an 8-5 loss to Hawai'i Saturday at Peccole Park. "It's 30 some odd games into the season, and we're still looking for answers."
The Pack (15-18, 5-6) seem incapable of putting everything together. When they hit well, they aren't pitching. When they get a decent starting performance like they did Saturday from Travis Sutton, they waste it because the bullpen chokes or the offense can't get a timely hit.
The Wolf Pack have lost four of their last five to teams they have dominated in the past. Nevada had beaten Louisiana Tech 20 of 24 times going into the season since the Bulldogs joined the WAC, and Hawai'i was 3-13 against Nevada at Peccole Park.
"It's discouraging obviously because it's a big series," catcher Baker Krukow said. "We have played them (Hawai'i) tough at home. They pitch well and play pretty good defense."
"We haven't been playing our best ball," said Sutton. "We'll come around. The attitude of the team is fine. We're still good in the dugout. We're just not catching any breaks right now, but we will."
Sutton certainly deserved a better fate. He blanked the Rainbow Warriors on one hit through the first five innings and Nevada enjoyed a 1-0 lead.
However, the roof caved in during the sixth when Hawai'i stroked five straight hits with one out en route to three runs. Joe Spiers had a two-run single and Justin Frash added a run-scoring single.
"I thought I had good stuff," Sutton said. "I was throwing a lot of strikes. In the sixth, I was leaving the ball up and that's where I got hurt."
Sutton recovered to pitch a scoreless seventh, which impressed Powers.
"To his credit, he came back in the seventh and stabilized things," Powers said. "He gave us a chance. It was a solid start."
Justin Costi, who throttled the Pack on two hits through six innings, was knocked out of the box in the seventh thanks to some shoddy fielding and a couple of good at-bats.
Leo Radkowski singled and moved to second when Dan Eastham walked. David Ciarlo dropped down a bunt to the left of the plate. Esteban Lopez pounced on it, looked at third and then rocketed a bad throw to first base. The ball got by second baseman Spiers, who was covering, allowing Radkowski and Eastham to score, tying the game at 3. It was Lopez's first error of the season.
"We're usually conservative on bunts," Hawai'i coach Mike Trapasso said. "Right when he got it (the ball), it looked like he had a play. He made the right choice and made a bad throw. I tell the second baseman to expect a bad throw and smother the ball."
Drew Johnson singled home Ciarlo. Dayton's Matt Bowman followed with a double to left, sending Johnson to third. Costi left in favor of Tyler Davis, who yielded a sacrifice fly to Terry Walsh that made it 5-3 before retiring the side.
Sutton left with no outs in the eighth after hitting Robbie Wilder for the second time in the game. Wesley Dorsett came on and got Matt Inouye to hit into his first double play of the season to get out of bases-loaded jam and retire the side.
Dorsett, who threw 50 pitches in 1 1/3 innings, retired two of the first three batters he faced in the ninth. Eli Christensen walked to put runners at first and second.
"When he walked Christensen, I thought he had lost it," Powers said, referring to Dorsett. "I let him stay for two more batters and got us in a jam."
Wilder and Spiers both walked, the latter forcing in a run. Powers called on lefty Patrick Mason to face Frash, a left-handed batter.
Mason quickly got ahead 0-2 and threw a fastball that Frash lined into left, clearing the bases.
"He made a good pitch," Frash said. "It was five inches off the plate."
"It got too much of the plate," Powers said. "There are different locations to throw waste pitches. That one was supposed to be well off the plate away. It didn't get there."
You can't blame Mason. Dorsett walked the bases full, and all three of those runners scored. Ballgame.
It was a big one for the Rainbow Warriors, who won their first series in Nevada in six years. Hawai'i entered the game with a 3-13 record at Peccole Park.
"I didn't know that," Inouye said. 'Everybody did their job today."