Baseball: Bad inning haunts Wolf Pack
For the Nevada Appeal
Thursday night’s Nevada Wolf Pack-Hawaii Rainbows baseball game at Peccole Park came down to one frustrating, irritating, aggravating, baffling, seemingly never-ending series of events that Gary Powers won’t soon forget.
“It was unbelievably disappointing,” the Wolf Pack coach said after a 12-9 loss to the Rainbows at Peccole Park. “It was a 7-6 game and then those things happen. I couldn’t believe what I was watching.”
Hawaii, leading just 7-6, sent 11 hitters to the plate in the top of the seventh inning. The Warriors got just three hits, all singles. The Wolf Pack defense, though, committed three errors in the inning and Powers thought there should have been a fourth. Four Wolf Pack pitchers combined to walk two and hit one Warrior hitter.
When the inning finally ended, Hawaii had scored five runs and had taken a 12-6 lead. The Pack nearly got out of the inning without any damage but Pi’ikea Kitamura sent a slow roller toward first that somehow, mysteriously took a left turn around Pack first baseman’s Brock Stassi’s glove for a single and two runs.
Three errors, a hit and a hit by pitch later and the Rainbows had three more runs before the inning ended.
“I don’t know what happened on that ball,” said Powers of the grounder that got by Stassi and seemed to take a bad hop on the artificial turf. “All I know was that it was only hit about 40 miles an hour.”
It was an inning that Powers hopes to turn into a learning lesson for his struggling Wolf Pack.
“We had a rough seventh inning,” Wolf Pack outfielder Waylen Sing Chow said. “Coach told us all about that inning in (the post-game clubhouse). We have to grind a little better than that. But that’s what this game came down to.”
Adding to Powers’ frustration and disappointment was the fact that the Pack actually brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning. Joe Kohan sent a line drive down the right field line with two runners on base that seemed destined for extra bases. Hawaii right fielder Collin Bennett, though, dived toward the foul line and stabbed Kohan’s liner to end the game.
“That ball falls in and (Kohan) is probably at third with the tying run,” Sing Chow said. “And we had our big hitters coming up. We had our chances. We found a way to get back in it.”
The Rainbow (25-19 overall , 10-3 in the Western Athletic Conference) and Wolf Pack (16-24, 5-7) combined for 27 hits, 17 walks, four errors, 21 runs in the Western Athletic Conference game that took 3:17 to complete. The teams also combined to leave 23 runners on base. The 11 pitchers in the game — seven by the Wolf Pack — combined to throw 393 pitches.
Bryan Suarez was the only one of the seven Pack pitchers to earn his coach’s praise. The junior pitched the eighth and ninth innings and allowed just a hit and a walk and no runs.
“Bryan Suarez did what the rest of our pitchers should have done,” Powers said. “He just went out there and threw strikes. That’s it. None of our other guys could do that.
“But that’s been the story for most of this year. Our starting pitching has been doing the same things all season. The one weekend this year we pitched well for four games (April 21-23 against New Mexico State), we won all four games. There’s no secret to how you play this game.”
Wolf Pack starter Tom Jameson lasted just 3.2 innings and allowed nine hits and seven runs. The sophomore tossed 80 pitches, just 46 for strikes while walking three and hitting one. Jameson’s numbers would have been even more unsightly if not for catcher Carlos Escobar tossing two Hawaii runners out on the bases in the first inning.
Relievers Sean Prihar, Tyler Rogstad, Jayson McClaren, Mat Keplinger and Timothy Culligan followed Jameson and combined to allow five hits, four walks and five runs (two earned) over 3.1 innings.
Rogstad, though, kept the Wolf Pack in the game by getting out of a bases loaded, no outs situation in the fifth. He got Hawaii’s Jesse Moore to bounce into a force out at home and Breland Almadova to hit into an inning-ending double play.
“Tyler did a great job that inning,” Sing Chow said. “Our pitchers early in the game got some big outs to keep us in this.”
Sing Chow got on base five times as the Pack’s leadoff hitter on two hits and three walks. His third walk brought Kohan to the plate as the tying run in the ninth. Hugo Hernandez and Tommy Niebergal also singled in the ninth inning and Braden Shipley ripped a two-run double.
Shipley had three hits and drove in four runs. Stassi, who was on deck when Kohan hit his game-ending drive to right, had two hits and three RBI.
“We keep fighting,” Sing Chow said. “We’ve done that a few times this year.”
For Powers, though, the entire night came down to one pivotal inning.
“If we do our job in the seventh inning, we win this game going away,” Powers said.