Gauchos hammer Pack pitching staff | NevadaAppeal.com

Gauchos hammer Pack pitching staff

JOE SANTORO

The Nevada Wolf Pack and Santa Barbara Gauchos have traded knockout punches this weekend at Peccole Park.

The Wolf Pack delivered the first crushing blow on Friday, scoring 11 runs in the sixth inning on its way to a 12-2 win. The Gauchos returned the favor on Saturday to even the three-game series, scoring seven runs in the seventh inning to pound the Pack 13-5 in front of 562 fans.

“The main thing in this game is they got 18 hits,” Pack third baseman Garrett Yrigoyen said on Saturday. “It’s hard to come back when a team does that and scores that many runs. It’s like what we did to them (on Friday).”

The Gauchos had at least one base runner in every inning and three or four in most of them. In addition to the 18 hits, Pack pitchers walked two and hit four. The Gauchos roughed up Wolf Pack starter Tyler Wells for four runs on three hits in the third inning to take a 4-1 lead.

Wells, who suffered the loss to fall to 2-1, lasted six innings and gave up five runs on seven hits. The freshman lefthander, who beat UNLV 3-2 a week ago in Las Vegas on seven strong innings, also walked a Santa Barbara hitter and hit three.

“He continually got behind in the count,” said Power of Wells, who tossed 56 of his 94 pitches for strikes. “In that (third) inning he gave up a walk to the ninth place hitter and hit a guy. He just didn’t have his command at all. He just wasn’t sharp.”

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Four Pack relievers also weren’t sharp, allowing 11 hits and eight runs in just three innings combined to turn the game into a rout and drop the Pack to 8-6 on the season. The eight-run loss is the biggest suffered by the Pack this year. Three of the Pack’s five previous losses this year were by one run.

“Give them credit,” said Powers, referring to the 7-7 Gauchos of the Big West Conference. “That’s a good ball club. We knew that.”

The Pack also knew it might be a struggle against Gauchos starter Andrew Vasquez. The 6-foot-5 freshman came into the game with a sparkling 1.62 earned run average over his first three starts with 21 strikeouts in 16.2 innings.

Vasquez tantalized the Pack hitters all afternoon, allowing just six hits and two runs (one earned) while striking out eight in eight innings. The 200-pounder from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., now has a 1.46 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 24.2 innings.

“I don’t think he threw the same pitch twice in a row, at least to me he didn’t,” said Yrigoyen, who had an infield single and a sacrifice bunt in two official at-bats. “He would stay away with his hard stuff all day.”

Vasquez gave up a run on a one-out RBI single by Carlos Escobar as the Pack took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. The other run he allowed came around to score on two errors by shortstop Brandon Trinkwon in the fourth inning.

“He did what he’s supposed to do,” said Powers of Vasquez. “He kept our guys off balance and moved the ball in and out and was never predictable.”

The Gauchos broke the game open with seven runs in the seventh inning off Pack relievers Elliot Van Gaver, Sean Prihar and Bryan Suarez to take a 12-2 lead. Five of the runs scored after two were out.

“We knew he’d be tough,” said Powers of Vasquez. “And the guy we’ll see tomorrow (Sunday) one-hit us last year.”

Sunday’s series finale will be a rematch between Wolf Pack starter Tom Jameson and UCSB starter Matthew Vedo. Vedo pitched a complete-game one-hitter with eight strikeouts to beat the Pack 2-1 on March 19 last year in Santa Barbara. Jameson, who beat UNLV 1-0 last Sunday, also pitched well in that game at Santa Barbara last season, allowing just a run on six hits in seven innings while fanning eight.

“This team has excellent starting pitching,” said Powers of the Gauchos. “This series is now 1-1 so (Sunday’s game) is huge. It now comes down to winning the series.”