Combine the fourth of a five-game series with tired arms and the wind blowing out of Peccole Park and no wonder the University of Nevada baseball team wasn't worried about an 8-0 deficit.
Nevada overcame that 8-0 deficit on its way to a 17-10 win on Saturday against Northern Illinois, the fourth straight win for the Wolf Pack (9-12) against the Huskies. Daytons' Matt Bowman, Drew Johnson, Shawn Scobee and Jordan Opdyke all homered in the uprising.
Wolf Pack coach Gary Powers made no apologies about his team being able to take advantage of the conditions. "You've still got to hit the ball," Powers said. "You've still got to swing it to hit it."
Powers said he was proud of the way his team came back "especially being young and inexperience like we are. They kept their focus and kept battling.
"I thought they showed some signs of maturity. I've seen teams with less momentum just fold it up."
Actually, Nevada's bullpen rotation of Jeremy Joustra, Steve Masten, Patrick Mason and Dan Eastham deserve just as much credit for the win. The four combined to hold Northern Illinois to two earned runs over 8.2 innings.
Masten was the winning pitcher, not allowing an earned run over 3.1 innings while striking out five. Mason and Eastham each pitched a scoreless inning. "They showed a lot," said Powers about the four pitchers.
The game began ominously Pat Minogue hit the second pitch from Kody Keroher for a home run to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead. Northern Illinois went on to score six runs off of of Keroher as he only got one out before giving way to Joustra. "Jeremy stabilized the game enough to where we could get back in it," Powers said.
"I've just got to stop the bleeding because my offense was going to come through," said Masten about what he was thinking.
"I had great command over my stuff. I felt really good. My slider was definitely moving pretty well."
Nevada got back into it quickly, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the third inning to cut the deficit to 8-7. After Durrell Williams and David Ciarlo singled, Bowman followed with a three-run shot, a drive to right that was aided by the wind.
"I don't think the ball reaches the fence if the wind isn't blowing out to right," Bowman said.
It was Bowman's only hit as he finished 1-for-6, but he's still hitting .367. After Bowman's homer, Scobee walked, Terry Walsh and Matt Suleski were each hit by pitches and then a run scored on Johnson's fielder's choice. Walsh eventually scored on a wild pitch and Leo Radkowski's RBI double made it 8-6. Ciarlo's RBI sacrifice fly finished the scoring in the inning and made it 8-7.
Nevada looks to be finding its offense heading into next weekend's Western Athletic Conference opening series at home against New Mexico State.
"We kind of knew it was going to take more than seven runs to win this game so we felt like we weren't out of it," Bowman said. "We never thought we were out of it. When we started getting hitters rolling, it's contagious. It all started coming together.
"It's going to take a lot of runs to win these games. We've kind of struggled the whole year."
After Opdyke singled, Johnson's two-run homer gave Nevada a 9-8 lead in the fourth. "He threw me the pitch I was looking for," Johnson said. "I just got it on the sweet spot and let Peccole Park do the rest."
"I thought he did a nice job of being ready to hit in that situation," Powers said. "It gave us a spark to keep going for the rest of the day."
Nevada took a 12-9 lead in the fifth in Ciarlo's RBI double and Scobee's two-run homer. Opdyke's two run shot gave Nevad a 14-9 lead in the sixth. Baker Krukow, Opdyke and Ciarlo all had RBI doubles to make it 17-10 in the eighth.
Ciarlo, Opdyke, Walsh and Radkowski all had two hits and Walsh also had a double. The series concludes today at 1 p.m.