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Nevada baseball falls to Northridge

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

Charles Whisnand

The University of Nevada baseball team has had its share of trouble dealing with adversity this season.

It looked like Nevada had begun to turn the corner after winning two straight games decided in the late innings, including a 10-5 win over Cal State Northridge on Friday. But in another close game, this time the Wolf Pack faltered.

Nevada took a 5-3 lead into the ninth inning, but aided by a controversial call, Northridge rallied for four runs and a 7-5 win on Saturday at Peccole Park.

Carson High graduate Joe Mercer started at third base and went 2-for-3 with two singles, raising his average to .318 (7-for-22).

The Wolf Pack continued to make youthful mistakes, which is understandable. Not so understandable is Nevada’s experienced players are also having their troubles.

“It’s the same situation that we faced yesterday,” said Nevada coach Gary Powers comparing Saturday’s game with Friday’s contest.

When one player fails to come through, someone else has to pick up the slack and Powers said that’s up to his experienced players.

“Teams need to have that to pick one another up,” Powers said. “We’re just not doing that right now. We’ve got a lot of experienced players who aren’t doing their jobs right now.”

Matt Renfree was the tough luck loser after pitching three scoreless innings. He retired the first batter in the ninth but then ran into trouble. Renfree allowed a single and hit the next two batters that loaded the bases with one out.

Bryan Johnson entered and got John Voita to hit a chopper to Bub Madrid at third. Madrid appeared to beat Mark McCauley to the bag for the force out, diving to touch the bag. But the umpire, who appeared to be out of position, ruled McCauley safe. A run scored on the infield single to make it 5-4.

“I had him at third,” Madrid said. “It was bang-bang. He was definitely out for sure. I’m not going to say that turned the game around but that was a momentum changer. Obviously you have to bounce back. It’s hard when calls get blown like that.”

Madrid said when Powers came out to argue he was more upset with the umpire’s positioning than the call. “That’s why he missed it,” Madrid said.

Albert Quintana followed with a two-run single that gave Northridge a 6-5 lead. “We got a blown call,” Powers said.

“We’ve got to be able to take care of ourselves. It’s not like we didn’t have a chance to do that.”

Carson High graduate Owen Brolsma eventually came in with runners at second and third and two outs. He got ahead of Nick Mahin 1-2 and almost had Mahin struck out with a borderline slider that missed just inside.

Mahin ran the count full and on the ninth pitch of the at bat, Brolsma threw a wild pitch to walk Mahin and force in a run that made it 7-5. Brandon Gottier came in to record the third out.

Nevada took a 1-0 lead in the first when Brett Hayes executed a hit and run when he singled. Robert Marcial scored all the way from first on an error on the play. Marcial tripled and scored to give Nevada a 2-0 lead in the third.

Starting pitcher Patrick Mason was sailing along with a shutout in the fifth when there were two outs and nobody on. But after walking two batters, Mason fell behind 3-2 on a double and two singles.

Erick Streelman, who was hitting .196 at the time, hit an opposite field home run to right center field in the bottom of the fifth off of Nathan Hochgesang to tie the score 3-3. It was Streelman’s second homer off of Hochgesang this season and an encouraging sign. Powers said Streelman has success when he looks more to go to the opposite field.

Nevada missed a chance to take the lead in the sixth when Hayes led off with a triple, but was left stranded.

“That stuff we can’t have that,” Brian Gazerro said. “We need to score runs when we have the opportunity.”

The Wolf Pack did take the lead in the seventh after Mercer led off with a single. Gazerro showed good fundamentals by going up the middle with two strikes for a single that scored Madrid, who was pinch running for Mercer. Marcial followed by executing a squeeze bunt that scored Gabe Mayorga to make it 5-3. “That pitch I just happened to get a good swing on,” Gazerro said.

“It’s tough to swallow right now,” said Gazerro about the loss. “We beat ourselves all game. We left runners in scoring position throughout the game.”

Notes: Northridge is now 4-0 this season against left-handed starters, continuing their streak against the left-handed Mason… Nevada is 0-6 on Saturdays this year.

Contact Charles Whisnand at cwhisnand@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1214.