COLLEGE: Nevada wins third straight game
For the Nevada Appeal
RENO – Gary Powers likes where his Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team is headed right now.
“It’s certainly better than the alternative,” the Pack head coach said.
Powers, whose Wolf Pack lost its first nine games of the season, is well aware of the alternative. The Pack, though, is starting to turn things around, outlasting the Pacific Tigers, 6-5, Saturday afternoon at Peccole Park for its third consecutive victory.
“A lot of positive things came out of this game today,” Powers said.
The Pack, now 3-9, is enjoying its first three-game winning streak since it won five in a row May 15-21 of last season. Powers is now 75-32 against Pacific in his career. Under Powers, the Wolf Pack went 49-7 against Pacific from 1988-2000.
Joe Kohan was arguably the most positive thing to come out of the victory. The junior singled in Braden Shipley with one out in the eighth to break a 5-5 tie. Kohan, who went 4-for-4, also singled in Carlos Escobar for a 1-0 lead in the third. The second baseman also doubled in the first inning, walked in the fifth and singled and scored in the seventh.
Kohan, who has started all 12 games, is now hitting .366 this season.
But, as Powers said, there were a lot of positives to take out of the victory.
Tom Jameson finally showed some flashes of the form he showed as a freshman a year ago, going six innings in his most impressive start of the year by far.
Jameson, who lasted all of seven innings combined over his first three starts with a 21.86 earned run average, blanked Pacific over the first four innings. The 6-foot-7 right-hander allowed just six hits and two runs (one earned) in his six innings and lowered his ERA to 12.46.
“It was good to see him get back on track and get some confidence and start to do the things we all know he’s capable of doing,” Powers said.
The Wolf Pack took a 5-2 lead with three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Nick Melino doubled in Kohan to break a 2-2 tie and Garrett Yrigoyen singled in Melino for a 4-2 lead. Hugo Hernandez capped off the inning with a run-scoring double as the Pack took a 5-2 lead into the eighth.
Reliever Tyler Rogstad, though, couldn’t hold the lead. Pacific touched Rogstad for two hits and a walk and three runs in the eighth to tie the game at 5-5.
It was Rogstad, though, who preserved the 2-2 tie in the top of the seventh inning. The 6-2 senior struck out Jacob Sylvester and got Brent McMinn to bounce into an inning-ending double play with the bases load. The double play went from third baseman Yrigoyen to catcher Escobar to Brock Stassi at first.
Matt Gardner, who has taken over the Pack’s closing duties, earned his second save of the year with a scoreless ninth inning. The Damonte Ranch High graduate, though, struggled with his control to start the inning, walking two of the first three hitters.
Powers, though, came to the rescue, making a visit to the mound after the second walk. Gardner got the message and never threw another pitch out of the strike zone the rest of the game.
The 6-foot junior, who spent his first two college seasons at the College of Southern Nevada, threw six consecutive strikes to nail down the victory after Powers’ visit. Gardner, who threw 11 of his first 17 pitches in the inning out of the strike zone, got Brett Christopher to fly out to center field on the first pitch and got Dustin Torchio to fly out to center on an 0-2 count (two strikes, two foul balls) to end the game.
“All in all it was a well pitched game,” Powers said. “When we made a mistake they made us pay for it, which has been the theme of our season so far. But the difference today is we didn’t make many mistakes. We got some big pitches in some big situations.”
The Pack and Pacific will wrap up their three-game series with a 1 p.m. game today. After today, the Pack will play just one home (March 22 against St. Mary’s) the rest of the month.