Baker is the win maker for Nevada vs. UNLV
Appeal News Service
RENO – Baker Krukow lived up to his father’s name and helped the Wolf Pack baseball team beat its intrastate rival.
“I didn’t want to get behind in the count because you want to have as many aggressive swings as you can,” Krukow said.
Krukow, whose father pitched in the pros and now broadcasts for the San Francisco Giants, knocked in the game-tying and winning runs on the first pitch as Nevada beat UNLV Friday afternoon, 5-3, in front of an announced paid attendance of 695 at Peccole Park.
The Wolf Pack (7-9), which has won six straight over the Rebels (8-9), face UNLV today at 1 p.m. before concluding the series on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“This team needed a win like that,” Nevada coach Gary Power said. “We’ve had a couple situations we’ve been in position to win games in the eighth and ninth innings.”
Down 3-2 with Jason Rodriguez on third and Shaun Kort on second, Terry Walsh struck out on four pitches, giving Nevada its second out in the eighth inning.
Looking for a first-pitch fastball, Krukow read Marc Baca’s splitfinger baseball and slapped it into centerfield, scoring both Rodriguez and Kort. Konrad Schmidt followed with a RBI single before reliever Kody Keroher closed out the ninth inning for the win.
“I’m looking for something up in the zone that’s hanging or a fastball up at the plate,” Krukow said. “It wasn’t a bad pitch. I’ll take in a heartbeat. I’ll take five more of those.”
Schmidt, who struck out twice before his RBI single, has been a pitcher’s fantasy hitter. The senior catcher has struck out 17 times in Nevada’s 16 games. He felt relieved, however, to get that insurance run across the plate.
“I just didn’t want to freakin’ strike out again. One-run games are pretty intense,” Schmidt, a catcher who also threw out a runner, said. “We fought every game all year and finally came out on top of one. We haven’t been getting a base hit here and there, but we got one today.”
With four one-run losses on the year, Powers was pleased to see the team pick each other up.
“The key thing is we speak a lot about how important it is to pick your teammates up when they need it,” Powers added. “In that situation right there, that was a huge pick up. It was done the way it needed to be done.”
Senior hurler Ryan Rodriguez pitched another solid game despite not recording the win. He threw 7 1/3 innings and struck out six Rebels.
Rodriguez, who was pulled after his 108th pitch, felt confident in his teammates to stop UNLV from scoring again.
“It was just time for me to come out. It’s a good win,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of times we’ve been down this year and haven’t won. We won the game, and we’re 1-0 in the series. That’s all that matters.”
Craig Heyer, however, countered Rodriguez’s pitching performance as he also threw 7 1/3 innings and struck out six before the Rebels gave up three runs after he departed.
“I thought it was a tremendous college game. Their pitcher was outstanding,” Powers said. “It was a real good game when the two starters left. We just happened to get the big hits when we needed it which is something we haven’t done three or four times before.”