Nevada’s senior baseball players taking losing personally
For the Nevada Appeal
RENO – Brian Barnett, Brock Stassi and Nick Melino are taking the Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team’s losing streak personally.
“It’s hard not to,” Barnett said. “People gave us credit when we were winning and doing well. So when you’re not doing well, that’s on you, too.”
Barnett, Melino and Stassi combined for 34 homers, 148 RBI and a .364 average a year ago when the Pack went 36-22-1. This season the Wolf Pack is 0-8 and the trio has a combined three homers (all by Barnett), 8 RBI and a .221 average.
“It’s been tough,” Barnett said. “When you have a bad at-bat it’s tough to get that out of your mind. It’s easy to think, ‘Here we go again.'”
Stassi, who has been bothered by a sore left shoulder that has kept him from pitching so far this season, is hitting .200 with no homers and one RBI. Melino is at .226 with no homers and one RBI. Barnett, who had three hits, a homer and two RBI in Saturday’s 10-6 loss to UNLV, is at .233 with three homers and six RBI.
How tough has it been for the Pack’s Big Three?
“Every time you look up, the field just looks like one giant glove,” Stassi said.
There are, however, some positive signs lately. Saturday’s game, after all, was just the second time all year that all three sluggers hit safely in the same game. Stassi was 1-for-2 with three walks, Melino was 1-for-4 with a walk and Barnett looked like the Barnett of old.
“It’s coming,” said Barnett of the Pack’s much-needed offensive explosion. “And when it comes, it’s really going to come.”
The problem, though, is nobody knows when it will come. This eight-game losing streak is the Pack’s longest since the 1991 team lost nine in a row.
“It’s a very frustrating time,” Stassi said.
“Everybody is still working hard,” Barnett said.
Stassi, Barnett and Melino, though, are putting extra pressure on themselves to right the Pack ship.
“They are definitely feeling the pressure and their production shows it,” Pack coach Gary Powers said.
Powers said Melino, Barnett and Stassi have been their own worst enemy.
“They are all trying to do way too much,” Powers said. “They are not relaxing when they go up there. They are just trying to do too much.”
“At the start of the year I think we did feel some pressure,” Stassi said.
Powers, though, is confident his Big Three will hit and produce a ton of runs before the season is over. Melino, after all, hit .388 a year ago followed by Stassi at .364 and Barnett at .348.
“I’m not worried about our offense,” Powers said. “We’ll hit.”
The Pack set a season high for hits (12) and runs (six) on Saturday. So the offense is coming around.
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Stassi said.
Barnett had a huge day against the Rebels with a single, double and homer. The home run was his first since the second game.
“It felt like I hadn’t hit one all season,” he smiled, referring to his mini five-game homerless streak.
Barnett went 2-for-18 with no homers and just one RBI over those five games leading up to Saturday.
“I just focused today on going up there and trying to hit the ball hard,” Barnett said. “Last week I was babying everything. I finally just told myself, ‘I have to swing myself out of this.’ And that’s what I did today.”