Baseball: Wolf Pack complete sweep over Pacific | NevadaAppeal.com

Baseball: Wolf Pack complete sweep over Pacific

JOE SANTORO
For the Nevada Appeal

RENO – What a difference a week makes.

The Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team earned its fourth consecutive victory Sunday afternoon, beating the slumping Pacific Tigers, 9-4, at Peccole Park. The Pack, now 4-9, was in the depths of a nine-game losing streak just seven days ago.

“The locker room is a lot better place to get into now,” joked Pack coach Gary Powers.

The Pack’s turnaround has been drastic and quick.

The Wolf Pack scored just 25 runs over its first nine games, all losses. They scored 25 in the three games against Pacific alone. The Pack has allowed just 17 runs in its four-game winning streak. They allowed 17 in just one game in the season-opening 17-4 loss at UC Irvine on Feb. 18.

“Good things will happen if you keep plugging away at it,” Powers said.

A week ago, Powers urged his team to put the nine losses out of sight, out of mind.

“They did a real nice job of that,” Powers said. “They came out everyday, did the things they were asked to do and got better.”

The victory on Sunday was just the second time this year that the Pack has not trailed in a game. The first time was last Tuesday in a 3-2 victory at UC Davis. That victory — the first of the year — was the first time all season the Pack even had a lead in a game.

The Wolf Pack jumped all over Pacific starter Jake Hummel for four runs in the second inning. Garrett Yrigoyen singled in a run for a 1-0 lead and Hugo Hernandez doubled in two more runs to make it 3-0. Jamison Rowe added a run-scoring double for a 4-0 lead later in the inning.

Mark Joukoff shut out the Tigers (now 3-11) through the first five innings on just three hits. The Pack, which was outscored 23-0 in the first inning in its nine-game losing streak, has now gone four consecutive games — all victories — without allowing a run in the first three innings.

Joukoff, who allowed three runs on three hits in the sixth, earned the victory to improve to 1-3 on the year.

“He gave us five real solid innings,” said Powers of the 6-foot-1 senior right-hander. “He lost his command in the sixth inning but he did his job.”

Troy Mark was nearly flawless in the last three innings. The 6-5 junior, making his second relief appearance after two starts, allowed just a hit and a walk in picking up his first save of the year.

“Troy Marks did a real nice job for three innings,” Powers said. “Those two guys (Joukoff and Marks) did a great job for us.”

The Pack took a 5-0 lead with a run in the fifth inning on a two-out, bases loaded RBI single by Hernandez. Hernandez went 2-for-3 in the game with three RBI and now has a seven-game hitting streak. The junior first baseman started the year 1-for-15 over his first five games but is 9-for-21 (.429) over his last seven games.

The Wolf Pack broke the game wide open with four runs in the eighth.

The Pack took advantage of wildness by Pacific reliever Paul Moeller, who walked three of the first four hitters in the inning to force in a run. Brian Barnett and Yrigoyen later added RBI singles off reliever Jonas Noack to give Marks ample breathing room in the ninth inning.

Barnett was 3-for-5 with a single, double and triple and a RBI. The RBI was his first since March 5, a span of five games.

The Wolf Pack banged out 13 hits in the victory. The Pack’s top two hitters entering the game (Joe Kohan at .366 and Carlos Escobar at .357), however, were a combined 0-for-9.

The Wolf Pack will now play nine of its next 10 games away from Peccole Park. They will play at St. Mary’s on Tuesday followed by three games at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday (doubleheader) and Sunday and a single game at California on March 21 before playing St. Mary’s at home on March 22.

“That’s going to be a challenge for us,” said Powers of the nine games on the road.