Nevada baseball finishes off sweep against UNLV | NevadaAppeal.com
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Nevada baseball finishes off sweep against UNLV

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – Jason Rodriguez and Kyle Howe are new to the Nevada-UNLV rivalry, but they are learning fast.

“Stew (Colton, assistant coach) went over it and what it was,” Rodriguez said. “Being from Southern California, I had not heard much about it.”

“I’m not too much into the rivalry (yet),” Howe said. “Anytime you beat your in-state rival it’s great.”

Nevada, 9-9, just didn’t beat UNLV, it swept the hated Rebels three straight games, grabbing a 2-1 decision Sunday afternoon at Peccole Park before a partisan crowd of 956.

Howe and Rodriguez, two newcomers to the Nevada program, played big roles in the victory.

Howe, 1-1, worked the first six innings on the mound, limiting the Rebels to five hits while striking out three and walking two. He appears most of the way back after undergoing Tommy John surgery back in 2003.

“I don’t know if I’m on a pitch count or not,” Howe said after the win. “The last inning I struggled, so maybe that had something to do with it. I didn’t have a good change-up, but I threw my fastball and slider for strikes.

“I’m not throwing as hard as I used to. I have no pain. Everything is fine. I can throw six, seven or eight innings if I need to.”

Rodriguez, meanwhile batted leadoff for the first time in the series. He walked twice and singled. He scored what turned out to be the game-winning run in the sixth on a throwing error by UNLV third baseman Willie Bowman, which snapped a 1-all tie.

“I used to hit first,” said Rodriguez, who reached base six times in the series. “I like to see as many pitches as possible.”

If Rodriguez continues to get on base, he could find a home at the top of the line-up.

Nevada took a 1-0 lead in the third when David Ciarlo singled past second baseman Rance Roundy. Ciarlo stole second and came around to score on back-to-back groundballs to second base by Rodriguez and Nick Sansone, as the Wolf Pack once again demonstrated its ability to play small ball.

The Rebels tied the game in the top of the sixth against Howe when Blake Gailen hit a one-out double and scored on a single by Keith Smith, who moved to second on a throwing error by Howe. Efren Navarro struck out and Chad Miller rolled to short to end the inning.

The Wolf Pack broke the tie in the bottom of the inning when Rodriguez singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. UNLV starter Matt Hutchison retired the next two batters. Terry Walsh followed with a roller to Bowman, who threw wildly to first, allowing Rodriguez to score.

UNLV threatened in the seventh on a single by Rance Roundy and a walk to Drew Beuerlein. Mario Rivers relieved Jordan Salazar, who had started the inning.

Rivera got a strikeout for the second out, but hit Calvin Beamon to load the bases. Gailen followed with a fly ball to right to end the threat.

Roundy singled to open the UNLV ninth and was sacrificed to second by Braden Walker. Mike Brenly grounded to second, Roundy taking third on the play. Ryan Kowlaski grounded to short to end the game.

It completed a perfect weekend for the Pack, who got great relief pitching, three decent start, outstanding defense and good execution.

“I’m proud of the way they played all three games,” Nevada coach Gary Powers said. “This is a great accomplishment, as we try to get this thing put together.

“We pitched exceptionally well. We know what he (Howe) is capable of. We wanted Kyle to leave on a positive note. He can build off this. We were efficient (offensively). I thought we took advantage of our opportunities to score.”

And, UNLV didn’t. The Rebels out-hit Nevada 7-4, but stranded eight baserunners, as Howe and Rivera made some good pitches with runners in scoring position.