Nevada baseball to open with San Jose State

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

Nevada will see a familiar foe when it takes the field for the opening game of the WAC baseball tournament Thursday.

The opponent will be San Jose State , which swept Nevada last weekend and knocked the Pack out of second place in the conference.

First pitch is set for 5 p.m. at Louisiana Tech's J.C. Love Field. Fresno State squares off with Sacramento State at 9 a.m., while New Mexico State and Hawaii face off at 1 p.m.

Nevada coach Gary Powers said he has put last weekend's debacle out of his mind, and he said there shouldn't be any carryover effects.

"I can't worry about last week," said Powers. "It's not like this is just another conference game. Everybody is 0-0 and gets to start fresh."

Thanks to the sweep last weekend, Nevada fell into third, and that's a double-edged sword in itself. The loser of the San Jose-Nevada game would have to play the winner of the Sacramento State-Fresno game. If that happens to be Fresno State, that's not what any team wants.

"We're not thinking about losing," Powers said. "If that happens, we'll deal with it. All we're thinking about is staying in the winner's bracket as long as possible, and winning the championship without a loss."

San Jose State coach Sam Piraro said last week's sweep doesn't give his team an advantage.

"It's better than losing four in a row," he said while on the team bus outside of Dallas. "We played pretty well. Nevada is a very good team. For us to beat anybody, we're going to have to play well."

The teams split in tournament play last year at Peccole Park, Nevada losing 5-1 in the second round and then coming back for an 11-9 win to get to the championship game.

San Jose is a much different team away from spacious Municipal Stadium. San Jose State went 21-6 at home and only 10-7 on the road.

Meanwhile, Nevada has had plenty of offensive success in Ruston, albeit it has come against Tech and not the Spartans.

"They play as good as anybody we play at their own park," Powers said. "They take advantage of their defense. They know how to play there."

The Spartans aren't a power team, and they are more singles and doubles oriented. Nevada relies more on power, and that could be an advantage.

"We've played OK in Ruston; probably about .500ish," Piraro said. "It's a hitter's park; the balls can fly out of there. There is no getting around that. I'd rather play in a bigger ballpark."

Powers said Tuesday morning that he wouldn't juggle his pitching rotation, meaning that Rod Scurry will start against the Spartans and Kyle Howe will throw the Friday game. Both are pitching on short rest, which is why Powers isn't expected to change things up.

"This is a big game for Rod," Powers said. "He needs to prove a point."

The big key for Scurry is getting through the first two or three innings. He has been hammered in several of his starts in the first third of the game, forcing his teammates to play catch-up the rest of the way.

In last Friday's 7-4 loss to San Jose State, he gave up two in the first and four in the third. In a 10-4 loss in Hawaii, he was roughed up for four first-inning runs, and the following weekend against Fresno State he was knocked out of the box in the first inning when Fresno State scored six times en route to a 9-3 win.

Howe lost a 2-0 decision to SJSU on Saturday, but Powers doesn't want to push him up two days. As it is, he is going one day earlier than normal.

Piraro said he hasn't made a decision on his starter, though left-hander David Berner, who bested Scurry last Friday, is the logical choice. Max Peterson, who beat Howe, could also get the nod.

Powers still doesn't know whether he will have the services of senior second baseman David Ciarlo, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Ruston in early May.

"He was about 80 percent today," Powers said. "We'll see if he can be ready by today. It's about him being able to play with the pain. He's a tough guy."

Mostly it will depend on how Ciarlo is able to move around defensively. He covers ground well, and if he can't do that, Powers will turn toward Lamar University transfer Brian Lloyd, who has played in just seven games this season.

"His quickness," said Powers when asked why he got the nod over Garrett Patterson or Nick Leid, both freshmen. "He played really well last weekend."

Notes: Pack shortstop Kevin Rodland carries a six-game hit streak into the SJSU game, while Matt Bowman has hit in five straight. The Spartans' Corey Valine has hit in 10 straight games ... The Spartans have outscored opponents 30-14 during their five-game winning streak, which includes the final game of the Fresno State series and the four-game series against Nevada last weekend.

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