Nevada baseball falls to Stanford
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – One of Nevada’s biggest problems this season has been its lack of clutch hitting.
The Wolf Pack let a few opportunities slip away Tuesday afternoon and fell 9-4 to Stanford in a nonconference baseball game before a crowd of 883 at Peccole Park.
Nevada fell to 20-18 overall heading into this weekend’s home series against San Jose State. Stanford, meanwhile, snapped a six-game losing streak and improved to 14-15.
“We had two or three opportunities to do what we needed to do and get something out of it,” Nevada coach Gary Powers said. “I’m disappointed we’re not taking advantage of opportunities. That’s why teams hang around .500. We’re not getting it done.”
Nevada left nine runners on, and the Pack was a woeful 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They left the bases jammed in the first, two on in the fourth and two on in the seventh.
The lack of clutch hitting started in the first inning despite the fact that Nevada jumped Stanford starter Austin Yount for two runs. It should have been more.
Mike Hale led off with a triple off the center field fence and scored on a wild pitch. Singles by Shaun Kort and Baker Krukow plus a walk loaded the bases. Cody Fierro struck out for the second out and Chris Siewert followed with a slow roller to the right of the mound for an infield single, driving in the second run. David Ciarlo struck out to end the inning.
Stanford scored a run in the second when Joey August lined a single up the middle and came around to score on a two-out error by Siewert, who short-hopped Kort at first base on Toby Gerhart’s infield roller.
The Cardinal took a 3-2 lead in the top of the third thanks in part to a decision by plate umpire Ken Durham.
With runners at first and third and one out, Michael Taylor pounded one to the left side of the infield, and the Pack turned a double play. Taylor lay on the turf, acting like the ball hit him. The trainer removed Taylor’s sock, and Durham declared it a foul ball after a closer look at Taylor’s foot.
Taylor struck out on the next pitch, but back-to-back run-scoring singles by August and Brent Milleville gave Stanford a one-run lead. It was the first of five RBI for Milleville, who went 4-for-4.
Kort, who hit a homer on his first collegiate at-bat, tied the game at 3 when he homered to right-center field, snapping a 121 at-bat drought without a homer.
“I was just looking for a pitch I could get a hold of,” said Kort, who is hitting .369. “I thought it had a chance because I got under it a little bit. That’s not my game, though. I’m a line-drive hitter. I try to spray it across the field.”
Nevada took a 4-3 lead in the fourth when Nick Sansone doubled down the left field line and eventually scored on Jason Rodriguez’s infield out.
That would be the last run that Nevada would muster, as David Stringer, who beat Nevada last year, allowed two hits over the next five innings to register his seventh save of the season.
“He was throwing three different pitches for strikes,” said Terry Walsh, who was 2-for-2 coming off the bench. “The first two guys we were just keying off the fastball.”
While Stringer breezed, Nevada pitchers struggled a bit down the stretch.
Jacob Kaup, who struggled in relief on Saturday, had a rough start, yielding a lead-off homer to Sean Ratliff, tying the game at 4. Kaup was yanked after walking Adam Sorgi and going to a 2-0 count on Taylor.
Matt Renfree walked Taylor, and both runners moved up a base on August’s sacrifice bunt. Milleville lined out to right, scoring Sorgi to make it 5-4. Renfree worked a scoreless sixth, a nice comeback from a rough outing on Saturday where he gave up three consecutive doubles to Fresno State.
“That happens,” said Renfree, who fanned one and walked one in two scoreless innings. “That’s baseball I guess. You have a bad outing, and you get back out there and bounce back.”
Freshman Mat Keplinger started the seventh, but he only got one out before Kort came on in relief.
Keplinger retired the first batter he faced, but then allowed singles to Sorgi and Taylor, who was replaced on the basepaths by Jeff Whitlow. A walk to August loaded the bases and Milleville followed with a two-run double for a 7-4 lead. Kort came on and struck out the next two hitters.
Stanford added single runs in the eighth (off Kort) and in the ninth off closer Mario Rivera.
Powers said he saw some good things in the pitching, particularly the outings by Kort and Renfree.
“We have guys who all they do is work on one thing out there,” Powers said, gesturing to the bullpen. “He (Kort) comes in from first base and strikes out the two batters he faced. For the most part, I think the staff competed. The same guys continue to struggle.”
Notes: Lefty Jarad Mitchell came back from a broken finger earlier than expected, allowing just two hits in 1 1/3 innings … Nevada starter Ben Colton was on a pitch count because Powers said he may be needed out of the bullpen this weekend.
•Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1281