Nevada loses heartbreaker to San Jose State, 11-8 in 11 innings
RENO — After an uplifting 8-2 win over nationally ranked San Jose State on Friday, the University of Nevada baseball team went into Saturday’s game looking for their fourth three-game winning streak of the season.
The Spartans, who hadn’t lost two in a row since Feb. 17, obviously had other plans.
Kevin Frandsen and Anthony Contreras both went 3-for-5 and Jonathan Durkin won his eighth game of the season, although not when San Jose State expected, as it beat the Wolf Pack 11-8 in 11 innings before 1,078 fans at Peccole Park.
Durkin (8-1) was scheduled to start today’s 1 p.m. game, but the Spartans used four different pitchers to try and stop two Nevada comebacks. The move seemed to have worked.
After Josh Laidlaw’s double off the left field wall to start the ninth inning, Durkin replaced Don Gemmell. Other than giving up an RBI single to Jeff Tolotti in the ninth, which tied the game at 8, Durkin was flawless. He allowed two hits and only saw 10 batters in three innings.
Nevada (18-23 overall, 5-12 Western Athletic Conference) battled back from deficits of five runs and three runs before the Spartans pulled it out in the 11th inning. Dino Quintero and Contreras each had run-scoring hits and a throwing error by Mike Gillies accounted for the third run in the final inning. Durkin retired the side in the bottom half of the inning.
The Spartans improved to 34-13 overall and 13-7 in the WAC.
“That’s really a tough loss for us to take, especially at this point in the season,” said freshman Chris Gimenez, who went 4-for-5. “We’re really together as a team right now and we battled our butts off today.”
The Wolf Pack scored five runs in the sixth, capped off by Curtis Wickwire pinch hit three-run homer that tied it at 5. San Jose State, ranked No. 27 by Collegiate Baseball, then scored three runs in the seventh to regain the lead. Nevada never led in the game.
“Our kids have always battled,” said coach Gary Powers. “The last two weeks they have really stepped it up. It was a tough game to lose. If there was one thing you point to, their outfield was the difference.”
The Spartans’ outfield of Travis Becktel, Quintero and Contreras made several outstanding plays that killed a possible Wolf Pack go ahead run. But as great as those plays were, Nevada made several costly base running and throwing errors throughout the game that killed its own comebacks.
With no outs in the fourth, and with runners on second and third, Gillies flied out to right field and Powers sent Tony Cappuccilli, a 6-foot-2, 235 pound designated hitter, to home plate to try and score the Wolf Pack’s first run. Cappucculli was easily thrown out.
In the fifth, Jacob Butler doubled and Carlos Madrid followed with a bloop single. With no outs, Powers waved Butler around third to try and score, but was easily thrown out. A pitch later, Madrid was picked off by the catcher.
“We made too many mistakes, me included,” Powers said. “I sent players when I shouldn’t have. Defensively, we made a a couple of mistakes. In games like this, you can look back and see 10 different things that could’ve changed the complexion of the game.”
Craig Norris replaced Nevada starter Mateo Miramontes in the seventh. Norris, who took the loss, was still solid in relief, allowing only two earned runs and seven hits in five innings. Butler and Laidlaw were both 2-for-5 for Nevada. Gimenez and Butler both had two RBIs.
In the fifth, Nevada left fielder Erick Streelman tried to make an outstanding play of his own, but paid drastically for it. His attempted diving catch ended up as a double for Bryan Baker and Streelman broke his left wrist on the play after his body collapsed on his wrist.
“He pitched well enough well enough to win today,” Powers said of Norris, who fell to 1-2. “But we couldn’t give him the run he needed.”
James Holcomb (1-4) will start in today’s game for the Wolf Pack. It’s unclear who San Jose State will start after Durkin threw almost 30 pitches on Saturday.