Nevada goes to the ‘Matt’ for victory
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Simply put, it was the best game in Matt Renfree’s career.
Renfree, a senior, threw 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, and Nick Sansone delivered a two-run single in the fifth inning to spark Nevada to a 7-4 victory over arch-rival UNLV Saturday afternoon at Peccole Park.
The Pack, 8-9, will shoot for a series sweep today at 1 p.m. with Kyle Howe getting the start for Gary Powers’ club, which has won four straight games.
Renfree, who fanned four and walked one, gave up a sacrifice fly to the first batter he faced and then retired 12 of the next 13 batters before allowing a double to Calvin Beamon in the ninth.
The performance lowered Renfree’s ERA from 14.21 to 8.14. It was his second straight strong outing. He threw well against Saint Mary’s in the Pack’s home opener.
“I would have to say this is the best I’ve pitched in four years,” Renfree said. “It feels good when everything is working good.My change-up was so-so, so I stayed with the slider and fastball. I was getting groundballs and letting my defense do the work. I had a few bad outings early which killed my ERA. I’m not a big stats guy.”
Renfree’s outing was the longest of his career, and Powers was excited by the right-hander’s performance.
“He threw strikes,” Powers said. “He worked a third of an inning more (than starter Rod Scurry) and threw 30 less pitches. He got ahead in the count. He did a nice job of dictating tempo out there.”
Powers said the next couple of weeks are critical in the team’s development as it prepares for WAC play, which starts March 23 in Hawai’i.
“We’ve had two good days here,” said Powers. “We have to have seven or eight more between now and then.”
The teams went back and forth in the early going until Nevada took the lead for good in the fifth when it scored three runs and added an insurance run in the seventh.
Scurry, who was 0-3 with a 9.39 ERA, pitched two scoreless innings before allowing single runs in the fourth enabling the Rebels to grab a 2-1 lead.
Nevada made the first of its two comebacks in the fourth, scoring twice to take a 3-2 lead against UNLV starter Jason Saddoris, who is 0-3.
Consecutive singles by Konrad Schmidt and Matt Suleski put runners at first and second with nobody out. Greg Siewert moved both runners up with a sacrifice bunt, his second of three on the day, and David Ciarlo followed with a run-scoring single between third and short. With runners on first and third, Ciarlo broke toward second and stayed in a rundown long enough for Suleski to score.
The Rebels re-took the lead with two more in the fifth on a run-scoring single by Efren Navarro Jr. and a sacrifice fly by Chad Miller. Renfree came on for Scurry and struck out Braden Walker to end the inning.
One of the reasons Scurry came out was because he took a groundball off his pitching hand in the fourth. He took a couple of practice pitches and stayed in the game.
“I knew it (the groundball) was coming back at me,” Scurry said of the fourth-inning grounder off the bat of Ryan Kowalski. “There was a runner at third. I had to knock it down.
“On the curveball, when I snapped it off I couldn’t feel my hands. I’m going to have it looked at.”
Nevada struck for three runs in the fifth when Jason Rodriguez singled, moved to second on an infield out and scored on Terry Walsh’s double to center. Baker Krukow singled and Schmidt walked to load the bases. Nick Sansone, who grew up in Las Vegas, pinch-hit for Suleski and delivered a two-run single to make it 6-4.
“I knew he had to come in and throw strikes,” Sansone said of UNLV reliever Adam Moser. “With the bases loaded, he had nowhere to put me. I was able to find a hole.
“It’s hard (to come off the bench like that). You have to keep yourself ready. It feels good to beat my hometown. They didn’t offer me at all. I knew they didn’t recruit locally. I’m happy here.”
Powers said after the game he liked the match-up with Moser facing Sansone.
Nevada added a run in the seventh on singles by Krukow, Schmidt and Siewert.