Krukow goes deep in Nevada’s win
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – When Nevada catcher/designated hitter Baker Krukow told his dad, Mike, that he hit a grandslam against New Mexico State earlier this year, the current Giants’ announcer jokingly told his son he must be on steroids.
A reporter asked Krukow what his dad’s reaction would be after he told him that he hit two homers in a game for the first time in his career in the Wolf Pack’s 9-8 win over Santa Clara in a non-conference game Tuesday night at Peccole Park.
“He’ll probably say I’m on the cream,” Baker Krukow joked after Nevada won for the eighth time in its last 12 games and improved to 28-22 overall heading into a weekend series against Hawai’i starting Saturday. “I was just as shocked as anybody else.
“It’s the first time that I’ve ever hit two out; not even in high school. The last time I hit one here was the last game of the season when I was a sophomore. This is the first time I’ve homered left-handed here.”
Krukow’s second homer, a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth, actually turned out to be the game-winning hit when Santa Clara scored twice in the ninth off Ben Colton, who managed to get his first save of the season.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Krukow said. “I had struck out twice before. He came back with a fastball, I got good wood (metal) on it and it just stayed fair.”
Krukow’s second homer put Nevada on top 9-6 entering the top of the ninth.
Colton, the third of four Nevada pitchers, hit Tommy Medica with a pitch to open the inning.
Ryan Conan followed with a pop-up between home plate and the left of the mound. The wind appeared to catch the ball, and Colton tried to make a lunging catch, but failed. He picked up the ball and threw wildly past first, allowing Medica to reach third and Conan second. Carl Bacon hit a sacrifice fly to left to make it 9-7, scoring Medica. Conan moved to third on the play and scored on Evan LeBlanc’s two-out single to cut the lead to 9-8. An infield hit and another hit batsman loaded the bases, but Colton got lead-off hitter Matt Long on a hard groundball to second to end the game.
“That’s what happens in one-run games,” Nevada coach Gary Powers said. “We’ve been on the bad side of one-run games more than we’ve been on the good side.
“I thought Ben did a nice job. If we played some defense behind him… We couldn’t catch a pop-up. He pitched himself out of it though.”
Powers said that Dan Eastham, who gave up two solo homers and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings, did a decent job.
“We might not have gotten the win if he doesn’t give us four innings,” Powers said. “We didn’t have a lot of guys available to us that have pitched a lot.”
Eastham, making his second start of the season, actually left with a 5-3 lead, thanks to an RBI single by Konrad Schmidt and a run-scoring double by Shaun Kort in the first plus a two-run double by Jason Rodriguez in the fourth and a sacrifice fly by Jason Sadoian.
Nevada lengthened its lead to 8-3 in the bottom of the fifth thanks to Krukow’s first homer of the game and run-scoring singles by David Ciarlo and Rodriguez. The latter’s hit came off Daniel DeMarco, who had entered the game with runners on first and second with two outs.
Ciarlo, thanks to a nice weekend against Louisiana Tech and three hits last night, raised his average to a respectable .272.
“He’s starting to go the other way, so he’s not one-dimensional,” Powers said. “They’re pitching him away because of the wind. When the wind is blowing like that, he needs to do that to be successful.”
Jordan Salazar, who bailed Eastham out of the jam in the fifth, pitched a scoreless sixth before running into problems of his own in the seventh.
Long doubled and scored on Nathan Faulkner’s single to make it 8-4. Kody Keroher came on and retired the next three hitters to end the inning.
Santa Clara figured out Keroher in the eighth, as Long’s two-run double closed the gap to 8-6. Colton came on to strike out Faulkner, setting up a wild and crazy ninth inning.