Ciarlo a key to Nevada’s resurgence
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – If you are looking for a reason behind Nevada’s sudden resurgence, look no farther than David Ciarlo.
Ciarlo was moved from second base to shortstop eight games ago, and the Pack baseball team has won seven games during that stretch, including six in a row heading into today’s noon double-header against New Mexico State at Peccole Park.
The 5-9 Ciarlo is getting it done both in the field and at the plate since his move to shortstop.
Ciarlo has made just one error in 31 chances in the past eight games, a vast improvement over Leo Radkowsky, who is in Ciarlo’s old spot at second base. He’s hitting .357 with 12 runs and six RBI since the move. He’s raised his average from .179 to .263 in that span, as he moved up to the leadoff spot permanently to replace a struggling Durell Williams back on March 3.
“He’s done it (bat leadoff) before,” Nevada coach Gary Powers said. “He’s comfortable there. He’s a real competitive guy. He’s been getting on base quite a bit. He’s solidified that deal. Sometimes you have to make changes.”
Ciarlo led off seven times last season, and once earlier this year, so the role isn’t new to him. He welcomes the pressure that goes along with it because that’s the type of guy he is – tough and gritty.
“I don’t feel pressure,” he said minutes after Saturday’s game was rained out. “Well, maybe the first couple of times. It’s a pretty tough job. I hit mostly third when I was in high school.
“It’s great getting out there and getting the team off to a good start. When I can help us get an early lead, that’s big for us.”
In the series opener against New Mexico State, Ciarlo reached base his first three times, scoring twice. He currently has a four-game hitting streak, and has scored nine times in that time.
“He’s a great table setter,” pitcher Tim Schoeninger said. “He takes a lot of pitches and let’s everybody else get a look at what the pitcher is throwing. He battles up there and sets the tempo.”
Ciarlo had been hitting mostly second, but spent time in the sixth and seventh slots, too.
“I have to be a little more patient,” he said. “You have to see a lot more pitches. Hitting lower in the order you see a lot more fastballs early in the count.”
Ciarlo said he didn’t try to lobby Powers for a chance to play shortstop. You don’t lobby Powers for anything.
“I think coach toyed with it (earlier),” Ciarlo said. “He knew I was originally a shortstop. I had been taking groundballs there. I’d considered telling him that I could play on the left side.”
Until Dayton’s Matt Bowman’s arm became healthy, third base had been a problem spot for the Pack. Four other players had combined for 10 errors in the first 14 games, including six by freshman Ryan Foley.
Ciarlo said the biggest adjustment is making the throw across the diamond compared to the short throw from second he’s been accustomed to making.
“It’s a different view,” Ciarlo said. “I like being able to make that throw.”
Ciarlo said he believes that as long as he keeps producing at both of his new spots, he’ll remain, and certainly there is no reason to change things up now.
Notes: One thing is certain, Powers needs to be more patient before calling games. Less than 20 minutes after the game was called, the sun came out and the game certainly could have been started … NMSU coach Rocky Ward was lobbying for a postponement from the outset. He was worried about the wind-chill factor being dangerous for players … Both games today are scheduled for nine innings.