No bark in Wolf Pack’s bite

Steve Puterski / LVN Photo

Steve Puterski / LVN Photo

Nevada Wolf Pack baseball fans got a chance to say good-bye to the team’s seniors on Senior Day at Peccole Park. The Wolf Pack then spent the rest of the afternoon on Sunday saying good-bye to second and third place in the Mountain West.

A lethargic and listless Wolf Pack baseball team, desperate for a victory after six losses in its last eight games, didn’t put up much of a fight in front of family and friends in a 15-1 loss to the UNLV Rebels. The Rebels swept the pivotal three-game Mountain West series from the Wolf Pack by a combined score of 32-4 to leave the Wolf Pack limping into the final weekend of the regular season.

“We got embarrassed,” Wolf Pack coach Gary Powers said. “Give UNLV credit. They came in here and flat-out embarrassed us.”

The loss eliminated the Wolf Pack from any chance at second or third place in the Mountain West with just three league games at Fresno State this week remaining on the schedule. The Pack is now 24-27 overall and 11-16 in the Mountain West, 11 games behind league leader New Mexico (32-18, 22-5), five games behind second place UNLV (34-17, 16-11) and four games behind third place San Diego State (26-26, 15-12).

“Right now this is a fragile group,” said Powers of his reeling Wolf Pack. “The bottom line is we have to dig down deeper than we’ve ever done before. That’s where this team is at right now.”

The Wolf Pack didn’t do anything well this weekend in its final series of the season at Peccole Park against its in-state rival. The offense produced just four runs and 20 hits in the three games, the pitching allowed 32 runs on 34 hits and the defense committed nine errors. And they did it all against a team they beat two out of three games in Las Vegas just last month.

“We have to quit feeling sorry for ourselves and we have to quit making excuses,” Powers said. “We have to refocus and put ourselves in the right frame of mind to give ourselves a chance to compete. We didn’t compete this weekend.”

Wolf Pack starter Tom Jameson, one of eight seniors honored along with their family and friends before the game, lasted just 4.1 innings and allowed 10 hits and seven runs (six earned). His performance was in direct contrast to his showing on April 14 in Las Vegas when he limited UNLV to just seven hits and three runs in eight innings while striking out nine in a 5-4 win.

“I felt good out there but I just kind of lost my energy,” the 6-foot-7 right-hander said.

Although Powers doesn’t want to hear any more excuses, Jameson did have a legitimate reason for his Senior Day showing. The Reno High graduate felt sick this week with a sore throat and other ailments. Powers even instructed him to stay away from the ballpark on Saturday so he could rest for his Sunday Senior Day start.

“I think I slept all day on Saturday,” Jameson said. “The day before I think I slept for about an hour.”

There was no way, he said, that he was going to miss his Senior Day start.

“It was an emotional day but it didn’t affect me,” Jameson said. “I wasn’t really thinking about it when I was out there.”

The Rebels collected four hits and two runs in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead. Joey Swanner then sliced a double to left field in the fourth inning as the Rebels took a 5-0 lead. Patrick Armstrong hit a blast over the center field fence about 420 feet away from home plate to lead off the fifth as UNLV took a 7-1 lead.

“When they came and got me, it was time for me to go,” said Jameson, who threw 88 pitches in just 4.1 innings and is now 1-7 this season.

The only Wolf Pack run came in the fourth with two outs. Brett Jones singled off second baseman T.J. White’s glove to score Hugo Hernandez, who had doubled. Hernandez and Jones also had back-to-back singles in the second inning but Ryan Teel bounced into a double play to end the inning.

That was about the extent of the Pack offense. The Wolf Pack scored in just three of its 27 innings this weekend.

“Nobody was in any kind of a rhythm at the plate all weekend,” Powers said.

UNLV starter John Richy went eight innings and allowed just six hits and a run. Richy, now 6-4, struck out five consecutive Pack hitters at one point in the fifth and sixth innings. The Pack did not get a hit over the last 3.1 innings.

The game got out of hand, as far as the Wolf Pack was concerned, in the eighth inning when UNLV scored seven runs on seven hits, sending 12 hitters to the plate.

“UNLV was just hot this weekend,” Jameson said. “We made some mistakes but UNLV was just hot.”

Powers denied that his team was lacking fire on Sunday.

“Everyone was excited and ready to play at the start,” he said. “There was a lot of enthusiasm. But it’s tough when things aren’t going well and you make some mistakes and look up and it’s five or 6-0. That’s when it feels like it’s 60-0.”

The Wolf Pack now has just three games remaining to build some momentum going into the Mountain West tournament.

“This coaching staff is not giving up on this team,” Powers said. “And nobody is putting any pressure on anybody to do what they are not capable of doing. All we are asking is they go out and play like we know they are capable of playing. All we are asking is for them to go out and compete to the best of their ability.”


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