Two-run homer in 8th lifts Nevada Wolf Pack over Northern Illinois
For the Nevada Appeal
Kewby Meyer is surprising even himself lately.
The Nevada first baseman hit his second home run in three days Sunday as the Wolf Pack beat the Northern Illinois Huskies 3-1 in front of 452 fans at Peccole Park. Meyer, who hit all of one home run all last season, broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth with a two-run shot to right field.
“I think that’s the first time I’ve ever done that,” said Meyer of his two home runs in the four-game series against Northern Illinois. “Not since I was 12, anyway.”
Meyer drilled a 3-1 pitch from the Huskies’ Alex Klonowski over the fence with teammate Jay Anderson on first base for his second home run of the year. Anderson had walked with one out and went to second on a wild pitch.
“If you are only going to get one big hit in a game, that was a nice time to do it,” said Nevada coach Gary Powers, whose Wolf Pack is now 5-3 after winning three of four against the Huskies.
Meyer, now hitting .333 this season with six RBI. He also homered in the Wolf Pack’s 7-3 victory over Northern Illinois on Friday to open the series.
“”It was a changeup,” said Meyer, describing Klonowski’s ill-fated pitch in the eighth inning. “It was a little low and I kind of golfed it a little. When I hit it, I didn’t think it was going out. I thought it was a line drive. But then I saw it carry.”
Powers isn’t surprised by Meyer’s sudden show of strength this season.
“He’s a real good hitter,” Powers said. “He’s always working hard in the weight room. He took a real good swing on that ball and that’s what happens when good hitters put a good swing on the ball.”
Meyer walked in the first, grounded out in the third and lined out to short with runners on second and third to end the fifth inning.
“If that ball was another foot higher he would have driven in two more runs,” said Powers of Meyer’s liner in the fifth.. “He hit that ball well also.”
Meyer isn’t sure where his new-found power is coming from.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I’ve been working on different kinds of swings but this one seems to be working so I’m going to stay with it.”
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound sophomore from Hawaii isn’t going to change his approach and start swinging for the fence. Last year as a freshman he hit .324 with 34 RBI and 47 of his 59 hits were singles.
“I’ve been working in the weight room but I didn’t want to get too big because I thought I might be playing the outfield and I wanted to be able to move around out there,” he said.
Reliever Kody Gorden, who got the final two outs in the top of the eighth for the Pack, was credited with his first victory of the season. Gorden was part of a bullpen on Sunday that didn’t allow a run in 3.2 innings on four hits.
Michael Fain, a 6-6 freshman from Clovis, Calif., retired the Huskies in order in the ninth for his second save of the year.
“He seems to want that role,” said Powers of the closer role. “And he’s done a nice job for us. The first time out there he was a little tentative but the second time he pitched out of a big jam.”
Fain has now allowed two runs on three hits over three appearances and five innings.
Another freshman, 6-5 right-hander Mark Reece, also pitched well. Reece, from Roseville, Calif., started and went 5.1 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and three walks while striking out six. He allowed just two base runners over the first four innings.
“He really did a nice job,” Powers said. “He can be a big help for us down the line.”
Reece, who allowed three runs on six hits and a walk in 3.2 innings against Kansas last weekend in his first start, struck out Northern Illinois’ Brian Sisler with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning.
“He can also be huge for us in relief,” said Powers, referring to the Pack’s three-game Mountain West series which begin March 15-17 against Air Force. “He can change the look of our bullpen.”
The Wolf Pack will play at Sacramento State on Tuesday (2 p.m.) before returning to Peccole Park for a doubleheader on Saturday (11 a.m.) and a single game on Sunday (1 p.m.) against Holy Cross.