Nevada baseball falls to Saint Mary’s |

Nevada baseball falls to Saint Mary’s

Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – After spending the first month of the season on the road, the Nevada baseball team returned home with hopes of starting fresh and getting back on the right track.

Those hopes will have to be put on hold until at least Friday after Saint Mary’s College, on the strength of a nine-run fifth inning, knocked off the Wolf Pack 13-4 Tuesday afternoon before a paid crowd of 727.

The loss dropped Nevada to 4-9. The Pack host Buffalo in a three-game series starting Friday afternoon weather permitting.

It was an ugly home opener. The offense did get nine hits, but went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position with two outs or less. The pitching staff walked 11 batters, including two with the bases loaded.

“I think the game was going along well until the nine-run inning,” Nevada coach Gary Powers said. “Things happened that changed the complexion of the game and made it tough on everybody. Any time your pitchers walk 11 batters, it’s hard to get enthused about playing the game.

“We didn’t do much on offense to help ourselves. A couple of guys swung at bad pitches (early). The last two or three weeks we’re getting people in scoring position but it’s always with two outs and we haven’t come through (a lot). We have to keep battling and give ourselves a chance.”

Despite the 4-9 start, the Pack players are still upbeat.

“Starting the season off the first month on the road is difficult,” said pitcher Ben Colton, who was tagged with the loss. “Everybody’s spirits are still high. We just have to go out there this weekend and win a series.”

“We’ve got a good team,” said reliever Matt Renfree, who allowed one run and one hit on Tuesday. “We’re close to getting over the hump.”

Nevada took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Jason Sadoian forced Owen Mackedon, who had walked to lead off the inning. David Ciarlo followed with a shot in the left-center field gap to score Sadoian. Ciarlo moved to third on the throw home.

Shaun Kort followed with a fly down the left field line, and Ciarlo tagged up at third. He scored easily when Kyle Jensen dropped the ball. Kort made it all the way to second on the hit and moved to third on Konrad Schmidt’s fly ball to center. Baker Krukow flied to left to end the inning.

The Gaels, who had stranded runners in scoring position in the first two innings, broke loose for nine runs and seven hits, knocking Colton out of the game. Colton allowed five runs and six hits.

“I just fell behind,” said Colton, who threw a career-high four innings. “Once I started to get the ball up, I got hit.”

The key hits in the barrage were a two-run double by Joel Staples that put the Gaels ahead 3-2. Jensen delivered a two-run single off reliever Jordan Salazar, who gave up five hits, four earned runs and walked three in his 36-pitch stint. Cory Miller and Randy Wells contributed run-scoring singles, and Salazar walked two batters with the bases jammed to force in two more runs.

Powers didn’t feel that Colton, Salazar and Renfree pitched that poorly.

“I thought they threw the ball real well down in the zone,” Powers said.

It was obvious by his post-game comments that Powers didn’t like plate umpire Bill Swanson’s strike zone. There were several times during the game that Swanson just stared intently into the Nevada dugout.

Nevada closed to 9-3 in the fifth when Mackedon slugged a solo homer off SMC starter/winner Christopher Aliotti, who went five innings to get the win. It was Mackedon’s first collegiate homer.

“It was a fastball up,” Mackedon said. “I squared it up pretty good. The park I played JC in (Feather River) was huge. I’m not that type of hitter. I’ve always been a small-ball guy.

“He (Aliotti) wasn’t overpowering. He was throwing a lot of change-ups and fastballs.”

That was fine with SMC coach Jedd Soto, who thought his freshman hurler pitched well.

“He mixed his pitches pretty well,” Soto said. “He started for us against San Jose and beat them. He took a loss against LSU. We’re still trying to figure out what rotation we’re going to use.

“Nine of our 12 pitchers are freshmen. I’m happy with the way they have competed. It’s all I can ask.”

Nevada made it 9-4 in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by Terry Walsh and Mike Hale. Walsh raised his average 40 points with his two-hit effort.

Saint Mary’s made it 10-4 in the seventh when Ryan Young slammed a solo homer off Matt Renfree, Nevada’s third pitcher. It was the only hit Renfree allowed in his three-inning stint.

The Gaels went on to add three more in the top of the ninth off Patrick Mason, and that didn’t sit well with Powers.

“I don’t think we competed with any focus in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings,” Powers said. “Regardless of how hard it is; things not going your way we have to get better at that.”

Notes: Jason Rodriguez, whose father was killed two weeks ago in Southern California while trying to help a stranded motorist, returned to the team on Monday. He went 2-for-4 and played well defensively … Schmidt, who entered the game with a .410 average, went 0-for-4. In fact, the 3-4-5 hitters – Kort, Schmidt and Krukow – went a combined 1-for-12 at the plate… It was uncertain whether Powers would even coach on Tuesday. His wife underwent surgery on Monday. He showed up to the ball park about 90 minutes before the first pitch.