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Nevada falls to San Jose State

Darrell Moody
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – Friday was a lost day for the Nevada baseball team.

The team paid its final respects to freshman pitcher Steve Masten, who died Tuesday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Several hours later, Nevada’s offense was nowhere to be found until the ninth inning, as San Jose State’s Loren Moneypenny threw 7 2/3 hitless innings and the Spartans escaped with a 6-4 Western Athletic Conference win at Peccole Park.

Nevada, which scored all of its runs in the ninth, dropped to 17-21 overall and 5-7 in conference. San Jose State improved to 28-17 overall and 7-6 in conference.

It was a tough day emotionally, and the Pack handled themselves well in the face of adversity.

“Definitely it felt good to put the uniform back on and get out there,” said Dayton’s Matt Bowman, who extended his hitting streak to nine games with a two-run ninth-inning double that broke Moneypenny’s shutout bid. “It’s been a tough week.”

“It was good (to play),” said Shawn Scobee, whose two-run homer cut the Spartans’ lead to two runs in the ninth. “When you practice, you can get it (Masten’s death) off your mind for a while.”

Other than the ninth-inning blows by Bowman and Scobee, the day mostly belonged to Moneypenny, who improved to 4-3. Moneypenny allowed three runs and three hits in 8-plus innings. Leo Radkowski’s two-out double in the eighth broke up the no-hitter.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t swing the bat better earlier in the game,” Nevada coach Gary Powers said. “We showed character by not quitting and still battling in the ninth to make the game interesting.

“We didn’t do a good job with our plate discipline. We swung at some bad pitches. Give Moneypenny credit. He took advantage and did a nice job early in the game.”

According to Bowman, Moneypenny kept Nevada hitters off balance with a slider and curveball, plus he was able to spot his fastball well.

Nevada’s Tim Schoeninger matched Moneypenny pitch-for-pitch through the first four innings. Each was working on a no-hitter after four innings. Moneypenny kept up the pace, but Schoeninger didn’t.

San Jose State broke it open in the top of the fifth with two runs.

Nick Epidendio ended Schoeninger’s no-hitter with a one-out double and scored on Brian Chase’s line drive double over Trevor O’Sullivan’s head in left. Schoeninger retired the next hitter, but ex-Reed star Brody Massman singled home Chase. David Pierson blooped a single to left sending Massman to second, but Sam Hall rolled out to end the inning.

“It was mechanical,” Powers said, explaining Schoeninger’s problems in the fifth. “He was dropping his arm and left a couple of pitches out and up over the plate. It might have been a focus thing.”

The Spartans made it 6-0 in the sixth with four unearned runs on one costly error by Bowman. Little did Nevada know how costly those runs would be.

Schoeninger plunked Chris Williammee with a pitch. Ryan Angel followed with a roller to third, and all runners were safe when Bowman made a wild throw to second. Schoeninger got two straight outs, but Chase singled to left, scoring Angel. John Shaffer followed with his second homer of the season, a three-run shot to left.

“That has hurt us all year long,” Powers said. “They parlayed that into four runs. Again, it’s something that has to stop. We either have to throw a better pitch or make that play.”

Powers said in some instances, a player tries to do too much, and that was certainly the case with Bowman, who probably should have settled for an out at first on the slowly hit ball.

With a comfortable lead, the only question was if Nevada would ever get a hit.

“I started to realize between the fourth and fifth innings,” said Moneypenny, who retired the first 12 batters of the game. “I’d been in the situation before. I was trying to make it like ‘If he gets a hit, big deal’.

“I threw him (Radkowski) a curve. I threw him a real good one (earlier in the count) and he laid off it. I went right back to it and I left it up and he made me pay for it.”

Moneypenny retired Ryan Foley after Radkowski’s double to end the eighth, but he ran into major problems in the ninth.

O’Sullivan walked and Durrell Williams singled. Both scored on Bowman’s double. Moneypenny left in favor of Steve Jones, who surrendered a homer to Scobee, the first batter he faced. Jones settled down and retired the next three hitters to end the game.

“Our guy pitched a tremendous game,” SJSU coach Sam Piraro said. “Nevada put itself in excellent position in the ninth inning. I know it will be a tough series. I know how it works here.”

Notes: Scobee was added to the Dick Howser Award watch list. He has 14 homers and 37 RBI this season … Powers praised the work of relievers Patrick Mason, Chris Scott and Kody Keroher, all of whom pitched a scoreless inning of relief to keep the Pack in position to make a comeback … New Mexico State beat Louisiana Tech Friday night. Louisiana Tech and Fresno State are tied for the top spot in the conference with 9-6 records … Entering Friday’s games, only 2 1/2 games separated the top six teams in the conference … The season-best crowd of 1,186 was treated to one of the best games weather-wise of the season … Foley started his third straight game at short, but went 0-for-2 at the plate … Bake Krukow has hit safely in six of the last 10 games, averaging .280 in that span … Dan Eastham made his sixth straight start at first and is 7-for-25 in that span.