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Nevada comes back for victory

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – Nevada started its showdown against San Jose State in inauspicious fashion.

Jacob Butler was ejected in the first inning after taking a called third strike and the usually dependable Tim Schoeninger had his worst pitching effort of the season, yielding seven runs in 3 1/3 innings.

The Pack kept chipping away, and thanks to a two-run single by Eric Newman and a two-run homer by Carlos Madrid, both in the seventh inning, and three scoreless innings of relief by Chris Scott, pulled off an improbable 10-8 win over the Spartans Friday afternoon at Peccole Park.

The win moved Nevada, which trailed 7-3 in the fourth inning, to 7-3 in Western Athletic Conference play. San Jose State dropped to 8-5, a half-game behind the conference-leading Pack. The teams continue their three-game series today at 1 p.m.

“It’s a credit to this team that they found a way to get it done,” coach Gary Powers said. “They kept battling and battling, and finally got the lead in the seventh and hung on to it.

“This was truly a team effort (the variety of ways we came back). We got good relief pitching, got big hits and I thought we played great defense in key situations. Defense is what turned it around.”

Powers was referring to the double play Nevada turned in the top of the seventh. With the Spartans leading 8-6, Madrid went to his left and made a diving stop of a ground ball to start a 4-6-3 double play, which probably saved a run and took SJSU out of a potential big inning.

“I thought that play gave us the energy to get back in the game,” Powers said.

Baker Krukow opened the Pack seventh with a double and moved to third on Shawn Scobee’s single. Dayton’s Matt Bowman walked to load the bases with no outs. Eric Newman, after getting behind in the count, stepped out and had a brief chat with Powers.

Whatever Powers said sunk in. Newman drilled a two-run single off reliever Daniel Crombie (1-3), scoring Krukow and Scobee to tie the game at 8. Bowman moved to second on the play, and then was picked off when Madrid failed to get a one-strike bunt down.

It didn’t matter. Madrid pounded a homer over the left-center field fence to give Nevada a 10-8 lead. Crombie retired the next two hitters to get out of the inning.

“I definitely wanted to sacrifice in that situation,” Madrid said. “Matt got a little too far off second base, and that was my fault. I should have gotten the bunt down. I had to pick him up. I put a good swing on it (the homer).”

Madrid’s heroics energized Scott, who retired the last six hitters he faced, four by strikeout, to end the game. It was clearly his best relief effort of the season.

“I wanted to come in and throw strikes,” Scott said. “Carlos made a huge play. I had confidence out there. It gave me a lot of confidence.”

“The guy (Scott) they brought in did a nice job,” said SJSU assistant coach Doug Thurman, who was filling in for head coach Sam Piraro, who had the flu. “He pitched well. He had a good breaking ball.”

Nevada started its comeback in the fifth when the seldom-used Terry Walsh singled home Robert Marcial, and then came home himself on Krukow’s sacrifice fly.

SJSU took an 8-5 lead in the top of the sixth on a homer by Travis Becktel, but Walsh’s two-out single scored Madrid, who had singled, to make it 8-6.

“He (Walsh) has been working real hard,” Powers said. “I’ve been talking all year long how you have to be ready when the bell rings. He certainly responded.”