Pack left out of NCAA tourney
Despite a 41-win season, a 12-1 record in three-game series and a regular season conference championship, the Nevada baseball team has not been selected for the 64-team NCAA Regional field.
Although the Wolf Pack had lofty postseason goals and worthy NCAA credentials, they will settle for a massively successful regular season and a bright future for the program. Nevada was ranked in the top 25 for most of the season, posted the most wins in a season since 1995 and became the first team at the University of Nevada to win a Mountain West title.
“I’m truthful in what I say, and I very strongly believe that we were a deserving team,” said head coach Jay Johnson. “I would be out of my mind if I wasn’t proud of this season. You can’t be perfect in this sport, and we weren’t, but we were pretty close. The positives from this season are too endless to count.”
Nevada’s season got off to a hot start with an upset of fifth-ranked Texas Tech on the road and a 7-0 start — the most wins to open a season in program history. The Pack opened MW play with a sweep of Fresno State at Peccole Park and went on to lead the MW standings for the rest of the season. The Pack tallied seven win streaks of three games or longer and never lost more than two games consecutively in the regular season.
With the fan base behind the program, Nevada posted Peccole Park’s first sell out in program history on April 26. Nevada tallied 19 road wins on the season, which ranked second in the nation, and swept San Diego State and New Mexico on the road to clinch the school’s first-ever Mountain West title with three games left on the schedule. Nevada recorded two victories at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha with consecutive wins at Creighton.
Overall, Nevada finished the season with a 41-15 overall mark. Nevada’s win total was tied for second-most in program history. The Pack went 22-6 in Mountain West play to win its fifth regular season conference crown. Nevada went 19-9 on the road and 22-6 at Peccole Park.
“To run the schedule the way this team did is incredible,” said Johnson. “We didn’t have a single flight or bus trip back home without feeling accomplished. These guys did everything I asked of them.”
The Wolf Pack’s stellar season as a team was bolstered by tremendous individual accomplishments. Nevada swept the postseason league awards. Johnson was named Mountain West Coach of the Year, highlighting an accomplished season in his second year at the helm. Sophomore Trenton Brooks was the inaugural winner of the MW Tony Gwynn Player of the Year award — the Pack’s first conference player of the year since Kevin Kouzmanoff in 2003. Junior Christian Stolo was named MW Pitcher of the Year and Cal Stevenson was named MW Co-Freshman of the Year.
Additionally, senior Austin Byler (1B), junior Ryan Howell (2B), senior Kewby Meyer (OF), junior Bryce Greager (UTL/DH) and junior Adam Whitt (P) were named to the All-MW first team, and senior Kyle Hunt was named to the All-MW second team.
Collectively, Nevada averaged eight runs per game and ranked fourth in the nation in scoring. The Pack led the Mountain West in nearly every single offensive statistic, and also led the MW in team earned run average during the regular season.
“Before the tournament, we showed the team some highlights of the season, and every single player had a highlight,” said Johnson. “I think that’s what made this team special. Every single player contributed to our success.”
The Wolf Pack tips its cap to a departing senior class consisting of Jay Anderson, Austin Byler, Jordan Devencenzi, Jason Deitrich, Kyle Hunt, Kewby Meyer, Matt Susac, Ryan Teel and Barry Timko. Collectively, these seniors were a part of 128 victories. They lead Nevada’s shift into a new conference and new coaching staff and capped their collegiate careers with the University of Nevada’s first Mountain West title.
“Some of those seniors are going to play at the next level, and I think they will dominate, and the ones that don’t will dominate in life,” said Johnson. “How those seniors revealed themselves to me in these two seasons was massive. I don’t want to let those guys go.”
Nevada is slated to return 18 letter winners and 28 student-athletes overall for next season. The Wolf Pack will also welcome 12 newcomers — six to-be freshmen and six junior college transfers — for the 2016 campaign.
With solid depth returning, a talented 12-player signing class and the innumerable successes of the 2014-15 season, the Wolf Pack has solidified a bright future for the program.
“I think we have a lot returning and a lot to be excited about,” said Johnson. “I’m looking forward to seeing what those guys do in summer ball over the next three months. We’ll have a different team, but hopefully they can develop the way this team did and we make that a trademark of the program. We’ll find a way, and for me, that all starts tomorrow.”