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Nevada pitching falters in defeat

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

Charles Whisnand

RENO – It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize what the University of Nevada baseball team’s problem is: Pitching.

Nevada’s pitchers allowed 19 runs on 23 hits in a 19-13 loss to San Jose State on Saturday at Peccole Park. Nine home runs were hit in Saturday’s game, with the Spartans hitting five and Nevada belting four.

Carson High graduate Joe Mercer was among those who homered for Nevada, hitting his fourth homer of the year, a three-run shot. Mercer, who was again the designated hitter batting cleanup, went 1-for-3 with four RBI, two walks and three runs. Mercer is now hitting .333 (16-for-48) with 22 RBI on the season.

“We’ve got to compete from the mound,” Nevada coach Gary Powers said. “We’ve got to be more competitive from the mound than we are and were today.

“You get 13 runs and that’s not enough, what does that say? I think over 50 percent of it’s mental. It’s all about preparation. It’s all about focus and concentration.”

Starting pitcher Patrick Mason only lasted one-third of an inning, allowing a walk and five straight hits that gave the Spartans (13-12-1, 1-1 in the Western Athletic Conference) a 4-0 lead. Ryan Angel, who had four hits, belted the first of his two homers to give the Spartans a 5-0 lead in the second. Angel homered again in the fourth and Brandon Fromm followed with a two-run shot that gave San Jose an 8-0 lead.

The Wolf Pack cut the lead to 8-3 in the bottom of the fourth when Brett Hayes extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a double. After Bub Madrid walked, Mercer belted his three-run shot. “Every time I go up I just look for a pitch that I can drive,” Mercer said.

David Pierson executed a sqeeze bunt to give the Spartans a 9-3 lead in the fifth and Nathan Corrick, who also had four hits and two homers, hit his first home run in the sixth to make it 10-3.

After Anthony Contreras singled for San Jose in the seventh, the inning took a turn for the worse for Nevada pitcher Chris Scott. On a 3-2 pitch to Mark Bautista, Contreras was running.

The borderline pitch was called a ball. If it had been called a strike, it looked like Brett Hayes would have been able to throw out Contreras for a strike ’em out, throw ’em double play.

Frustrated, Powers argued and was ejected. San Jose went on to score four runs to take a 14-3 lead, with the highlight coming on Corrick’s three-run shot.

Chris Gimenez and Ben Mummy both homered for Nevada to cut the deficit to 14-5 in the seventh. In the eighth, Mercer walked and Jacob Butler hit a monster shot over the left field wall that ended up on the Manogue campus to make it 14-7.

But San Jose scored five runs in the ninth to take a 19-7 lead. The turning point came when Corrick hit a popup in the infield that was misplayed by Nevada for a single. The Spartans went on to score five runs.

“A lot of it’s immaturity, but you know what, that’s not an excuse any more,” said Powers about his pitchers.

Despite allowing seven runs, San Jose’s Corey Cabral still had an effective slider as he struck out 10 and was on the verge of pitching a complete game in the ninth. But he was chased when Mummy and Eric Newman each singled. The Wolf Pack (13-13, 1-1) went on to scored six runs on the strength of five walks.

Erick Streelman walked and after a run scored on an error, Hayes followed with an RBI single. Baker Krukow and Mercer walked to force in a run and Butler then hit a two-run single.

Gimenez and Mummy walked to force in Mercer to make it 19-13. But with the bases loaded and one out, Newman hit into a game-ending double play.

Notes: Nevada is now 0-8 on Saturdays this year.