A perfect night for Wolf Pack baseball
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Nevada’s recipe for success in the first round of the Western Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament was simple – the longball and stellar pitching.
Leadoff hitter Jason Sadoian, Jason Rodriguez and Shaun Kort all homered, and Ryan Rodriguez scattered six hits as second-seeded Nevada rolled to an easy 11-1 win over fifth-seeded Hawai’i Thursday night at Peccole Park.
The game was halted after seven innings because of the 10-run rule, and the win moved Nevada into a winner’s bracket game against San Jose State tonight at 7.
The Spartans may be the hottest team in the WAC, having won six of their last seven games, including two of three in San Jose last weekend.
“I’m happy with the intensity level we came out and played with,” Nevada coach Gary Powers said. “Playing a team for the seventh time is always difficult.
“Ryan did a great job. I thought he did a good job of keeping his pitch count down.”
Rodriguez threw just 85 pitches in going the distance, and Powers said you couldn’t script a better storyline in the sense that the Pack had to use only one pitcher.
It very well was Rodriguez’s last Peccole Park start, but maybe not his last appearance of the tourney. Powers was asked about the possibility of using his ace out of the bullpen if the Pack were to get to Sunday.
“I’m not looking that far ahead,” Powers said. “My focus is on San Jose State and playing a great game. I hope I have an opportunity to make that decision.”
Rodriguez was nicked for a run in the second, and then worked out of a first-and-second one-out situation in the fourth by getting Brandon Haislet to hit into a fielder’s choice and striking out Vinnie Catricala looking.
“We’ve seen him three times,” Hawai’i coach Mike Trapasso said of Ryan Rodriguez. “He’s no secret. He’s aggressive with his fastball, he’ll throw his slider on any count and he throws the change-up to left-handed hitters. He was as good as he’s been.”
Conversely, Trapasso was disappointed with his own starter, Ian Harrington, who gave up four runs and four hits in two-plus innings.
None of the runs were earned, however.
“He didn’t have it,” Trapasso said. “He didn’t have command of any pitch. I knew right away.”
Harrington was lucky to get out of the first unscathed.
Sadoian singled to center to open the game. Jason Rodriguez followed with a one-hopper to Kris Sanchez at first, but Sanchez’s throw to second was wide and Sadoian was safe. After Kort struck out, Konrad Schmidt followed with a liner to short. Nathan Young made a leaping grab and doubled off Sadoian at second.
Hawai’i scored its lone run in the second, and Nevada broke loose with four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Terry Walsh was safe on third baseman Justin Frash’s error, moved to second on Dan Eastham’s single and to third on Matt Suleski’s sacrifice bunt. Chris Siewert was hit by a pitch to load the bases. David Ciarlo followed with a high chopper to third. Frash beat Eastham to the bag for the force, allowing Walsh to score.
Sadoian followed with a three-run homer for a 4-1 lead. It was his first homer of the season, and it obviously came at a great time.
“Our plan was to attack the fastball when we got it,” Sadoian said. “We made sure we had to hit that pitch.”
Sadoian, who wrested the center field spot away from Nick Sansone early in the conference season, has given Nevada some much-needed spark at the top of the order.
“He’s jump-started our team especially of late,” Powers said. “He’s an unselfish player. He’s done a lot for us.”
The early bulge made Ryan Rodriguez’s job much simpler, and obviously he was equal to the task.
Matt Daly, who was expected to be the Rainbows’ third starter this week, came out of the bullpen in the third after Harrington surrendered a lead-off single to Kort, who moved to third on a wild pitch and infield out. Daly retired Eastham on an infield roller to end the threat.
Daly allowed a run in the fourth when Suleski walked, moved to second on Owen Mackedon’s bunt, to third on a wild pitch and scored on Ciarlo’s sacrifice fly.
Trapasso decided to go with Jeff Soskin in the fifth, not wanting to burn any more innings on Daly and lose him for the rest of the tournament. Daly threw 34 pitches, and Trapasso hopes to use him today or Saturday.
“That’s why I took him out,” Trapasso said. “Harrington could come back, too. Soskin has been throwing well the last three or four weeks, but that (decision) just blew up in my face.”
In baseball terminology, Soskin threw kerosene on the fire.
Soskin walked Kort to start the fifth and gave up an infield single to Schmidt. Walsh hit a bloop down the line in right, but Hawai’i was able to force Schmidt at second, Kort taking third on the play. Eastham followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-1. Suleski, Mackedon and Ciarlo followed with consecutive doubles for a 9-1 edge before Soskin got the last out, a diving catch by left fielder Derek DuPree to retire Sadoian.
In the sixth, Soskin allowed back-to-back homers by Jason Rodriguez and Kort to make it 11-1. Cameron Wheeler came on and retired the next three hitters.
Ryan Rodriguez gave up a lead-off single in the seventh, but Catricala hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Landon Hernandez struck out looking to end the game.