Nevada baseball routs Utah Valley State
Appeal News Service
RENO – Wolf Pack baseball players commuted from the clubhouse to the dugout back and forth, relaying updates on the basketball team during the first two innings of its game with Utah Valley State.
“The TVs were both on in the locker room and we were fully attentive to it,” shortstop Chris Siewart said. “Our basketball team is having a great year and hopefully they can continue it.”
Rooting for its fellow athletes in the Big Dance could have posed a mental focus threat on the team, but the Wolf Pack zoned in and pleased the 726 fans who chose to watch baseball at Peccole Park.
Nevada rode on Ryan Rodriguez’s complete game shutout and the offense’s 12 hits in defeating the Wolverines, 11-0, Friday afternoon to snap a three-game losing streak.
Nevada (11-12) entertains Utah Valley State (5-12) in the second game today at 1 p.m. and the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. A doubleheader was originally scheduled for today to make it a four-game series, but it was scratched earlier this week.
“We had some timely hitting. We played good defense and turned double plays,” Nevada coach Gary Powers said. “Ryan kept his pitch count down. He did a nice job of finishing his job before that (reaching 100 pitches) happened.”
Rodriguez surrendered seven hits, walked none and struck out five to move into second place in career strikeouts. The shutout was the senior hurler’s third as a Wolf Pack and first since he threw two shutouts his freshman year in 2004.
“Every time I go out there, I don’t think about that (shutouts),” Rodriguez said. “When it gets late in the game, coach is going to have to drag me out there because I want to stay in the game.
“The offense did a great today putting up a bunch of runs. It makes the pitcher’s job easier. I got some double plays here and there, and it really helps.”
Rodriguez tuned into the basketball game before taking his warmups 30 minutes before his start. From there, the Reno native focused in on his dual with the Wolverines.
“I watched the basketball game as long as I could until I had to warm up,” he said. “Once I get out there warming up, it doesn’t matter what other sport is going on. My game is the most important one right now. That’s how I took it today.”
Not only did the offense help Rodriguez improve to 3-3 on the season, the defense turned three double players, and catcher Konrad Schmidt had a diving catch to bail his pitcher out early in the game.
“I think any other catcher would catch that standing up,” Schmidt said. “Everyone contributed, Ryan did a great job and we played good baseball and good defense.”
Powers said getting ground-ball outs betters a pitcher’s chances of a complete game.
“That’s how you pitch complete games is you get outs early in the count and two outs on one pitch,” Powers added. “That’s the prettiest thing in baseball to watch guys turn double plays.”
The Wolf Pack made good use of the Wolverine’s scattered defense in the outfield as Siewart and Matt Suleski each tripled. Siewart hit a bases-loaded shot to right center field in the second inning while Suleski knocked in two runs in the third off starter Jace Brinkerhoff (1-4). “I have to take advantage of every chance I get. You want to prove yourself right away,” said Suleski, who missed most of last season with a torn meniscus. “You have to reach down and calm yourself so you can be the best.”