Nevada baseball holds on against Hawai’i
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Simply put, Nevada’s hitters clutched up.
The Wolf Pack scored five runs on two-out hits, and held off a late rally by Hawai’i to grab a 7-5 Western Athletic Conference win Saturday night at Peccole Park.
The win moved Nevada, 29-22 overall and 12-7 in conference, into a second-place tie with Louisiana Tech, which dropped a 3-1 decision to conference-leading Fresno State.
“Huge win; a good ballgame,” Nevada coach Gary Powers said. “We left a runner on third once and the bases loaded once. We didn’t do as much as we could, but we did enough when we needed to.
“A couple of guys have been doing a good job helping out their teammates. A couple of guys have been struggling. That (two-out hits) is huge. We didn’t do that at their place, but tonight we did.”
David Ciarlo, the Pack’s No. 9 hitter, came through in a big way. He slugged two two-out doubles and drove in three runs. He raised his average five more points to .277.
Ciarlo first big hit came in the second after Mike Hale and Chris Siewert both singled with two outs. Ciarlo pounded a double to right-centerfield to give Nevada an early 2-0 lead.
Hawai’i starter Ian Harrington retired the first two hitters in the fourth, but then gave up three straight hits.
Jason Rodriguez singled and scored on Shaun Kort’s double to right. Konrad Schmidt followed with a triple off the fence in left to make it 4-0.
Nevada starter Ryan Rodriguez, who faced only one batter over the minimum through four innings, lost his shutout in the fifth when Kris Sanchez singled, moved to second on an error and scored on a single by Eli Christensen.
Hawai’i closed to 4-2 in the top of the sixth when Sanchez’s two-out double scored Brandon Haislet, who drew a walk.
Nevada got that run back and more in the bottom of the inning. Leadoff hitter Jason Sadoian, who went 3-for-5, doubled to left, and up stepped Jason Rodriguez, who drove a deep ball to the left of the 400-foot sign in center. Haislet gave chase and crashed into the wall, and didn’t get up. Sadoain scored easily and Jason Rodriguez scored standing up. Haislet remained in the game.
“My other at-bats I’d taken the first pitch fastball,” Rodriguez said. “He grooved one and I put a good swing on it. I saw him (Haislet) not moving. I thought in the back of my mind maybe I could get an inside-the-park homer. I think this might be the first one.”
On most days, a 6-2 lead with Ryan Rodriguez on the mound was money in the bank.
Hawai’i scored two more in the seventh, and it could have been worse had it not been for a bonehead baserunning mistake by Derek DuPree.
With the bases loaded and one out, DuPree singled to right to score Landon Hernandez, who had singled. Eli Christensen, who also had singled, scored when Nick Sansone bobbled the ball. DuPree’s hit sent Hee around to third. Rodriguez made at least a half-dozen pickoff attempts at first. DuPree finally broke for second. Rodriguez stepped off and threw to Siewert, who flipped to Kort for the tag-out.
Nevada executed the play so quickly, Hee had to stay at third. Justin Frash walked, but Rodriguez, who improved to 8-5, struck out Haislet to end the inning.
Ciarlo came up with his second two-out double to drive in Trevor O’Sullivan and make it 7-4 after seven. O’Sullivan had reached on an error to lead off the inning.
Hernandez stroked a two-out single to make it 7-5 in the top of the eighth, and that was it for Rodriguez, who threw 108 pitches.
“Ryan did a nice job,” Powers said. “They realized Ryan was trying to get ahead on the first pitch, and they adjusted and got back into the game.”
Rodriguez admitted he hasn’t been sharp in his last couple of starts, and he was grateful that his defense and offense has picked him up.
“With runners on base, I was throwing off-speed on the first pitch to get ahead,” the Nevada senior said. “They hit me a few times. I started throwing all fastballs later in the game. I think I kept them off balance for the most part.
“I’m not complaining. I’ve had a couple of rough outings but still got the win. The last time I gave up seven and we got eight.”
Matt Renfree came on, and gave up a single to Christensen which loaded the bases. Hee hit a comebacker for what should have been an inning-ending double play. However, Schmidt dropped the throw and was forced to tag pinch-runner Matt Roquemoore out at the plate.
“I thought maybe I threw it a little low,” Renfree said. “We still got the out at the plate and got out of the inning.”
The 6-foot-8 Renfree fanned Jorge Franco on a full-count fastball to end the inning, and then he struck out the side in the ninth to earn his second save.
“I like that (closer) role,” Renfree said. “My fastball was good tonight, and that set up the slider that I struck those guys out on.”
Powers also liked Renfree’s effort.
“The last three or four weeks, he’s been very, very consistent,” Powers. “We’re trying to get everybody on this team to be more consistent and be who they can be.”
The Pack has won nine of its last 13, and it want to be playing its best ball these last two series’ heading into the WAC Tournament.
“We’re hitting on all cylinders,” Renfree said. “We’re playing good defense, pitching well and we’re hitting the ball.”
Notes: The field is set for this year’s WAC Tournament. It will be the same six teams as last year – Nevada, Fresno State, Hawai’i, Sacramento State, Louisiana Tech and San Jose State. The Spartans will finish sixth. The rest of the placements will be decided next week … The Pack will honor its seniors – Matt Suleski, Siewert, Schmidt, Rodriguez, Jarad Mitchell, Patrick Mason and Baker Krukow – prior to tonight’s game … Kort extended his hitting streak to six games, while Ciarlo and Rodriguez stretched theirs to five games. Krukow had his five-game hit streak snapped.