Brolsma, Jaquez contribute in loss
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – It has been a difficult season for Nevada’s Owen Brolsma, who decided to go back to being a catcher after spending his first two seasons with the Wolf Pack as a pitcher.
Brolsma has spent much of the season warming up pitchers in the bullpen, save for a two-inning stint against USF in a 17-2 blowout loss on April 17. He batted once and struck out.
The ex-Carson High star was thrust into a difficult situation on Sunday after regular catcher Konrad Schmidt was ejected in the fourth inning for an “excessive tag” on Patrick Thomas, who was trying to steal home.
Brolsma delivered a two-run single and handled three chances without an error, and was one of the bright spots in the Pack’s 11-10 loss to Louisiana Tech Sunday at Peccole Park.
The game was marred by the ejection of Schmidt in the fourth inning, and the ejections of assistant coach Jay Uhlman and second baseman David Ciarlo in the sixth inning on the same play.
The loss dropped Nevada back into third place at 11-7. Louisiana Tech moved back into second place with a 13-8 record.
Nevada coach Gary Powers praised the play of the seldom-used Brolsma.
“He was thrust into a (tough) situation,” Powers said. “He hasn’t had many opportunities, and he did a good job. He blocked the ball and received the ball pretty good. Nobody ran on him, and he delivered a two-run hit when we needed it.”
Powers was referring to the fifth with Nevada trailing 6-2. With runners on second and third, Brolsma lofted a single to center, scoring Jason Rodriguez and Shaun Kort to make it 6-4.
Brolsma moved to second on Baker Krukow’s infield roller, but then committed a baserunning mistake moments later. Terry Walsh hit a bloop to short left, and instead of going half-way to third, Brolsma went back to tag up. When the ball fell in, he attempted to reach third but was called out by third-base umpire Scott Higgins even though it appeared he got under the tag.
“It felt good to come in and help this team,” Brolsma said. “My heart was racing a mile a minute. Coach (Jay) Uhlman came down and tried to get me to calm down. I wasn’t trying to do too much. I just wanted to put something in the outfield.
“I didn’t get a very good lead (on that fly ball). I should have been off the base more.”
In the sixth, Nevada reliever Ben Colton hit Courtney Jones with a pitch. Matt Combs, Tech’s No. 9 hitter, dropped a bunt down the third-base line. Rodriguez threw to first base, and Kort appeared to drag his foot across the bag, but umpire Mark Denzin disagreed. Kort argued briefly, and Ciarlo was tossed moments later. Powers went out and argued the call to no avail. Uhlman was yelling from the dugout, and he was ejected.
“I definitely dragged my foot across the bag,” Kort said. “Jason made a great play.”
Combs moved to second on the play. Jones was thrown out at third trying to advance on a wild pitch, as Brolsma made a nice throw. Moments later, Jericho Jones delivered a run-scoring triple to give Tech a 7-4 lead.
Nevada exploded for five runs in the sixth to take a 9-7 lead as Baker Krukow and Walsh delivered two-run singles, and Kort drove in a run with an infield hit.
Colton, who yielded a run in the sixth, departed after giving up back-to-back singles in the seventh. He left in favor of Mario Rivera with runners on first and third.
Brandon Hudson grounded out to Kort at first, driving in Brian Rike, who had singled. Dennis Winn walked to put runners at first and second. Jones followed with a single to right-center field to tie it at 9. Rivera escaped any further damage.
Tech added another run in the eighth. With the bases loaded and Matt Renfree on the mound, Hudson hit a low liner to left that looked like it would go for extra bases and start a big inning. Walsh made a diving catch, and pinch-runner Nick Grunenwald tagged up and scored easily to make it 10-9.
“They know to leave their feet if they have a chance to make that play,” Powers said. “He made a great play to keep us in the game.”
Dennis Winn grounded to third, and Tyson Jaquez threw out Rike trying to score on the play. Courtney Jones grounded to second to end the inning.
Nevada lost a huge opportunity to cut into that deficit the next inning. Kort drew a one-out walk and moved to second on Trevor O’Sullivan’s single to left. Krukow flied out to left and Walsh grounded out to second.
Renfree’s scoreless string of 8 1/3 innings ended in the top of the ninth when Jones doubled and scored on Grunenwald’s double to make it 11-9.
Mike Hale doubled to led off the Wolf Pack ninth. After Siewert popped out, Jaquez singled to center scoring Hale. Jaquez reached second when Adam Cobb bobbled the ball.
Jericho Jones relieved Hudson and struck out Jason Sadoian for the second out. Rodriguez made the game-ending out on a hard groundball to second base.
Two out of three isn’t bad, but the Pack would have loved a sweep to stay within two games of league-leading Fresno State.
“We played with a lot of heart,” Kort said. “A couple of calls didn’t go our way. If we play like we did the last three days, we’ll have nothing but success.”
Notes: Powers had a “no comment” about Schmidt’s ejection other than to say the umpires called it a flagrant tag, which resulted in an injury to Thomas’ jaw … Kort went 10-for-13 in the three-game series … Nevada hosts Santa Clara Tuesday at 5 p.m., and Dan Eastham is expected to start.