Beavers chew through Pack's pen for win
By Charles Whisnand
Appeal Sports Editor
RENO - With four nine-inning games every weekend in the Western Athletic Conference, there's no question that defense and relief pitching is going to be critical.
Nevada failed in both areas on Saturday in a 17-10 loss to Oregon State at Peccole Park. And while it was a nonconference game, Nevada coach Gary Powers knows his team has got to be better in both areas in WAC play. It's also hard to win a game when your pitching staff allows 20 hits and nine walks.
The Wolf Pack actually didn't play that badly on defense on Saturday, but it failed to make one play for its only error of the game and that turned out to be the turning point of the contest. Ryan Iodence and Brock Stassi then combined for a Wolf Pack bullpen meltdown and those were the two main reasons why the Beavers (7-6) turned an 8-6 deficit into a 17-9 lead.
Chris Garcia had overcome a rough second inning in which he allowed five runs as the Beavers built a 6-0 lead. But Nevada came back to take an 8-6 lead and Garcia had given the Wolf Pack a solid effort into the sixth inning.
Garcia walked Joey Wong to begin the sixth and then was pulled in favor of Iodence. Iodence allowed Garrett Nash's single and Jason Ogata's two-run double to tie the score 8-8. Then came the play that came back to haunt the Wolf Pack.
Shortstop Garrett Patterson fielded a ball at shortstop and had Ogata dead to rights at third. But he was the victim of indecision and decided to throw to first, pulling Shaun Kort off the bag. So instead of one out and a runner at first, Oregon State had runners at first and third with no outs.
Drew George followed with an RBI double and Iodence was pulled after hitting Ryan Ortiz with a pitch. Stassi allowed Lonnie Lechelt's two-run single, giving the Beavers an 11-8 lead.
"We just need to play consistent baseball," Nevada coach Gary Powers said. "We need to make better plays on defense. We've got to be better out of the bullpen.
"We had a guy thrown out at third base. That opened the game to a five-run inning. It turns an 8-6 game into an 11-8 game. We can't make those kinds of mistakes."
Oregon State took a 16-8 lead in the seventh after Stassi walked Nash, Ogata and Daniel Robertson to load the bases with no outs. George hit a two-run single and then Ortiz belted a three-run home run to make it 16-8.
The Beavers took a 5-0 lead on Lechelt's two-run homer. Then with two outs, two runs scored on Robertson's bloop single and George followed with an RBI single to make it 5-0.
Jordan Lennerton tripled and scored on Lechelt's RBI sacrifice fly to make it 6-0 in the third. But Nevada struck back for five runs in the bottom of the third.
Patterson was hit by a pitch and Travis Simas followed with an RBI double. David Ciarlo's RBI single, Jason Sadoian's RBI sacrifice fly and Kort's two-run homer made it 6-5.
In the fifth, Nevada's Mike Hale led off with a home run and Patterson followed with a double. Ciarlo's RBI single and Matt Bowman's RBI groundout gave Nevada an 8-6 lead.
But the game began to change after Rodriguez was intentionally walked to load the bases. Josh Keller induced Kort to hit into an inning-ending double play. Keller allowed one run over three innings for the win.
Nevada closed to 16-9 in the eighth on Bowman's triple and an RBI single by Jason Rodriguez. Lennerton's homer made it 17-9 in the ninth.
Kort's RBI single that scored Bowman, who walked, finished the scoring in the bottom of the ninth.
George had four hits and four RBI, Lechelt had three hits and five RBI and Lennerton had four hits - a homer, two double and a triple. Mark Grbavac pitched the last three innings to qualify for a save. Stephen Bautista allowed one run over the last three innings for Nevada (7-8).
"We played hard," Powers said. "I think we're competing at the plate. I think we competed for nine innings and did a lot of things well."
The two teams will play the rubber game of their three-game series at 1 p.m. today at Peccole.