RENO - Nevada ace Tim Schoeninger said starting the first-ever night game in Peccole Park history was a "neat experience."
Schoeninger tossed a complete-game 3-hitter, the first complete game by a Pack pitcher this season, and struck out a career-best 11 in Nevada's 9-1 victory over New Mexico State Friday in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both schools.
The win was Nevada's sixth straight and boosted the Pack to 11-12. The last time Nevada won six straight games was the 2004 season.
"It's indescribable; getting ahead, throwing strikes and getting outs," said Schoeninger, who threw 128 pitches and improved to 3-2. "The defense played well. The offense swung the bats well. I was glad I got to be that guy (starting first night game). It's a once in a lifetime thing.
"I located my pitches. It's the first time all year that I had control of all four pitches. I was throwing all of them in the zone."
And, he did all of this to the conference's second-leading offense. The Aggies entered the game with a .309 average, and other than leadoff hitter Vince Rodden, who got all three of their hits and scored the Aggies' only run in the first inning, the rest of the offense was feeble at best.
Schoeninger, who retired 17 straight hitters and 18 of the last 19 from the fourth until two outs in the ninth, did an especially good job against NMSU's Luke Hopkins, who leads the WAC in 14 offensive categories, including homers (12). Hopkins went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, both looking.
"We wanted to attack him away, and make him beat us out there," Schoeninger said of the left-handed hitting Hopkins, who was hitting .458. "I got him twice on borderline calls; one was a change and the other was a slider."
Nevada coach Gary Powers was obviously impressed with Schoeninger's performance, and he said his young team is coming of age.
"He had great location on a consistent basis," Powers said. "He had a couple of balls put into play early in the count. He wasn't walking anybody, and that's how you throw complete games. He needs to be proud of his effort.
"When you have a young, inexperienced team sometimes you learn some lessons. Sometimes the best lessons are not the most enjoyable. This team went through some down times. They've showed character. There hasn't been a day where they haven't worked hard in practice or played hard in a game."
And, it's a more confident team that takes the field these days.
"It's nice," said Dayton's Matt Bowman, who went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs. "Everybody comes to the park expecting to win. Everybody is on the same page."
Bowman, as usual, played a big role in the Pack win. He raised his average to .383 and extended his hitting streak to a career-high eight games. Nevada scored in just three innings, and Bowman was involved in all three rallies.
Trailing 1-0, Nevada bounced back with four off NMSU starter Beto Romo (1-1) in its half of the first. David Ciarlo walked and moved to second on Bowman's hard single to left. Shawn Scobee knocked one off the wall in left for a double, scoring Ciarlo and sending Bowman to third. Terry Walsh followed with his fourth homer of the season, a towering shot over the fence in left.
Walsh went 4-for-5 and drove in four runs, tying a career high set earlier this year against Arizona State. The four hits were a career best. He raised his average from .261 to .297.
The first-inning barrage was huge, according to Schoeninger.
"You always hope to answer when they score on you, " Schoeninger said. "You've got to score.''
The Pack padded their lead to 8-1 in the fourth, scoring four runs, three of which were earned off reliever Kyle McFadden.
Durell Williams, the Pack's No. 9 hitter, singled up the middle, stole second, advanced to third when catcher Brandon Lance's throw sailed into center field and scored when Ciarlo doubled to right-center field. Bowman doubled to left, scoring Ciarlo to make it 6-1. After Scobee struck out, Walsh singled home Bowman. Jordan Opdyke's shot off the third baseman's glove drove in the final run of the inning.
The Pack made it 9-1 in the last of the seventh when Williams singled, stole second, moved to third on Ciarlo's fly to right and scored on Bowman's sacrifice fly to left.
"I'm getting good pitches to hit," Bowman said. "I do feel good at the plate. It seems like I keep getting the pitches I'm expecting, and I'm putting good swings on the ball."
"He's (Bowman) not trying to get outside himself," Powers said. "That leads to success."
Notes: Walsh finished a triple shy of the cycle for the second time this season. He was a triple shy against Arizona State... Nevada second baseman Leo Radkowsky had a tough night, going 0-for-5 and stranding nine Pack baserunners ... The loss was the Aggies' 10th straight, matching the 10-game streak of 1999 ... Fresno State beat Sac State 5-1 in Fresno, and the Louisiana tech-San Jose State game was rained out ... The 3-hit effort by Schoeninger was the best since 2003 when Mateo Miramontes also threw a 3-hitter. There have been three 4-hitters thrown by Pack pitchers since 2003, one by Travis Sutton and two by Ryan Rodriguez ... The Pack go for their seventh straight win today at 1 p.m. with Rodriguez facing Brian Gausman.