Pack baseball lets it slip away
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Nevada was one out away from extinguishing UC Davis when the roof caved in.
UC Davis exploded for five runs after two outs in the ninth inning to wipe out a 2-1 deficit and steal a 6-2 win over the Wolf Pack Tuesday afternoon at Peccole Park in a nonconference baseball game.
The loss dropped Nevada to 25-21 overall heading into this weekend’s crucial three-game series against second-place Louisiana Tech. Currently, the Pack trails Louisiana Tech by 1 1/2 games.
It’s certainly not the way coach Gary Powers or his players wanted to enter the all-important conference showdown.
“It’s definitely a tough one to swallow,” said losing pitcher Ben Colton, who was tagged with the loss despite a solid 4 2/3-inning relief effort. “This one hurts, but at the same time, we have a chance to come out and get into second place (this weekend).”
Powers, who was terse during post-game interviews, was unhappy with letting the game slip away.
“I’m not happy at all,” Powers said. “All I know is that we have to have the right mentality going in. The last two games, we haven’t shown the right mentality. We have to make an adjustment. Louisiana Tech has the ability to come in here and embarrass us.”
Colton, who came on in the fifth after an impressive four-inning starting debut by Dan Eastham, surrendered a single to left by Evan Hudson and then Michael Jacobellis dropped a bunt single between the mound and plate to start the ninth.
Jacob Jefferies struck out and Justin Shaffer popped out to right.
With left-handed hitting Ryan Royster due up, Powers elected to go with lefty Jarad Mitchell, who had yet to be scored on in 8 2/3 innings, to hopefully finish the game. The Aggies countered the move with right-handed hitting Kyle Mihaylo, who slammed an 0-1 pitch to left, tying the game at 2.
“JM (Mitchell) has been solid for us,” Colton said. “It was a situation where we needed one out. This was one of the times it didn’t work out.”
“With the left-hander up, the numbers showed he (Royster) wasn’t nearly as good as he was against right-handers,” Powers said, explaining the move. “We wanted to pound it outside, and he threw it up and in, and he pulled it to left field.”
Mario Rivera came on to pitch, and Matt Dempsey followed with a chopper to short. Shortstop Chris Siewert threw low to first, and freshman first baseman Shaun Kort was unable to scoop it out. Jacobellis tried to score from second on the play when the ball got away from Kort, whose throw went up the third-base line. Brandon Oliver followed with a run-scoring single and Daniel Descalso followed with a two-run double to make it 6-2.
“I should have had the throw,” Kort said. “The last three or four runs are on me. I should have picked that ball. Siewert made a great play. I need to work more on short hops.”
Nevada went down quietly in the ninth against Bryan Evans, who fanned six and walked two in his complete game performance. The win evened Evans’ record to 4-4.
The loss ruined a couple of good pitching efforts by Eastham and Colton.
“Ben and Danny did a good job,” Powers said. “The pitchers did enough to win us the game.”
Eastham, who hadn’t started a (school) game since high school, threw 60 pitches. He struck out four, walked one and allowed only three hits.
“I felt pretty good,” Eastham said. “I felt really comfortable. I figured I would go three or four innings. I think they wanted to see what I could do to get out of that jam.”
Eastham was referring to the bases-loaded jam he worked out of in the fourth. He fanned Kevin James for the second out and got Jefferies on a hard comebacker for the third out.
“That fired me up,” Eastham said.
It also fired his teammates up, as Nevada took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Baker Krukow hit into a double play with runners at first and third. Kort led off the inning with a wind-blown triple to left-center field.
True Nevada did score, but the inning had the makings of a big one.
Colton allowed a run in the sixth when Oliver doubled and scored on Hudson’s two-out single.
The Pack scored the go-ahead run in the seventh, but probably should have had more.
Terry Walsh singled, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Krukow and was balked to third. Mike Hale came up and grounded to first with the infield in. After pinch-hitter Konrad Schmidt walked, Siewert slammed a run-scoring double to left to give the Pack a 2-1 lead.
That’s the way the game stayed until the ninth when the bullpen couldn’t get the game-ending out.
“You have to play the whole game,” lamented Powers.
Notes: Jason Rodriguez had his four-game hit streak snapped, though in fairnes to him, he got just one at-bat … Kort, Siewert and Krukow now have two-game hitting streaks … The series against Louisiana Tech starts Friday. The Friday and Saturday games are at 6 p.m. and the Sunday game is at 1 p.m. … The win by Davis avenged a 10-6 loss to Nevada earlier this season.