Pack knocks off Santa Barbara | NevadaAppeal.com

Pack knocks off Santa Barbara

JOE SANTORO
For the Nevada Appeal

RENO – Tom Jameson was all smiles Sunday afternoon at Peccole Park.

“I’m back,” the Nevada Wolf Pack junior said after beating the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos 11-7 in front of 427 fans. “It feels good to feel normal again.”

Jameson, who struggled in his first two starts this season, has been the dominating right-hander the Pack needs him to be over his last two starts. He didn’t allow a run over seven innings a week ago in a 1-0 win at UNLV and he limited the Gauchos to one earned run over 6.2 innings on Sunday.

Jameson has a 0.68 earned run average and has allowed 13 hits over 13.2 innings over his last two starts combined.

“It (his season) started out a little rough but I’ve been working hard to correct things,” said Jameson, who had a 6.48 ERA over his first two starts and is now sitting at 2.86 on the season. “Things are going well now.”

Jameson retired the Gauchos in order in the first and third innings. He left two Santa Barbara runners on base in the second, fourth and fifth innings.

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“I was kind of my own worse enemy,” said Jameson of his first two starts this season against New Mexico and Utah Valley. “I was kind of in my own way, stuck in my own head a little.”

Jameson threw 64 of his 98 pitches for strikes and walked two and struck out two against the Gauchos. He gave up a run on two hits, two walks and two wild pitches in the sixth after retiring the first two Gaucho hitters. Pack coach Gary Powers then removed Jameson from the game after the 6-foot-7 right-hander allowed a run-scoring double with two outs in the seventh.

“He did a real nice job,” Powers said. “And if we would have played better defense behind him it would have been even better (an error on Pack shortstop Kyle Hunt led to two unearned runs in the seventh).”

Jameson escaped further damage in the sixth when he got Santa Barbara’s Brett Vertigan to fly out deep to right with the bases loaded to end the inning.

“As long as they didn’t hit it to left, I was going to be all right,” smiled Jameson, referring to the strong winds that blew out over the left field fence all game. “Any pop up to left could go out but anywhere else was OK for me.”

Jameson impressed his head coach on Sunday.

“He threw the ball on a downward plane, which is something we’ve talked to him about forever,” Powers said. “When he does that he’s going to get a lot of outs. And the best thing about him is that he’s learning how to make adjustments on the fly when he’s out there. He’s able to correct himself.”

Jameson’s teammates gave him a big margin for error against the Gauchos. The Pack scored three runs in the second and four in the third to jump out to a quick 7-0 lead.

Santa Barbara starter Matthew Vedo, who tossed a complete-game one-hitter in a 2-1 victory over the Pack last season, walked four hitters, including Jay Anderson and Kyle Hunt with the bases loaded in the second. Pack catcher Carlos Escobar then greeted Santa Barbara reliever Zak Edgington with a two-run double in the third.

Vedo, who came into the game with a 2.70 ERA over 20 innings this year, lasted just 2.1 innings and allowed three hits, five walks and six runs. The Wolf Pack scored at least one run on four of the five Gaucho pitchers.

The victory gave the Pack a 2-1 series victory over the Gauchos.

“To win this series against a good team like that is huge for us,” said Pack designated hitter Austin Byler, who walked three times and hit a RBI double.

Jameson’s last two victories — over UNLV and Santa Barbara — gave the Pack 2-1 series victories each time.

“To beat our rivals last week and then to come out here this weekend and do it again, this gives us a lot of momentum,” Byler said.

The Wolf Pack, which will play at St. Mary’s on Tuesday before opening a three-game series on Friday at Peccole Park against UC Irvine, is now 9-6 this season. The Pack didn’t win its ninth game a year ago until its 26th game on April 9.

“This was good to see,” said Powers of the two series victories over UNLV and UCSB. “Those are two teams that dominated us last year (going 5-0 combined against the Pack).”

The series victory on Sunday was especially gratifying after a 13-5 loss to the Gauchos on Saturday.

“Well, this team won’t quit,” Powers said. “Not if I have anything to say about it.”