UNR baseball wins home opener
RENO – The Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team sure knows how to make a good first impression on its home fans.
The Pack destroyed the Central Arkansas Bears, 17-10, Friday afternoon in its home opener in front of 551 fans at Peccole Park. The Pack stole six bases and scored 16 unanswered runs to improve to 6-3 on the year.
Central Arkansas (3-5) took advantage of some wildness by Pack starter Beau Witsoe and a costly Wolf Pack error to jump out to a 3-1 lead after three innings. The Pack, though, erupted for 16 runs over the next four innings to lead 17-3 after seven innings.
Pack coach Gary Powers, though, wasn’t happy with the last two innings which saw Central Arkansas outscore his team 7-0.
“We had to send a couple messages to three or four guys after the game,” Powers said. “I wasn’t real happy with the approach of three or four guys. If they are not mentally ready to play then we’ll stop giving them an opportunity.
“If these guys want to keep going out there, they have to have a better approach. We’ll separate the men from the boys real fast.”
The Pack separated itself from Central Arkansas from the fifth through the seventh innings, breaking a 3-3 tie.
The Pack scored six times in the fifth to take a 9-3 lead. The key hits in the inning were a pair of two-run doubles by Brock Stassi and Nick Leid. The hit for Stassi, which ricocheted off the pitcher’s leg and into right field, snapped an 0-for-12 slump by the left-handed designated hitter.
The Pack then scored five runs in the sixth to take a 14-3 lead. Stassi had a RBI single and catcher Michael Turay slammed a three-run double to highlight the inning.
Former Western Nevada and McQueen High standout Brian Barnett then put the game away with a three-run homer in the seventh for a 17-3 lead.
The homer was Barnett’s first as a member of the Wolf Pack.
Witsoe, who walked four, was the beneficiary of the offensive explosion. The righthander went five innings, allowing four hits and three runs (just one earned) to pick up his second victory of the year in three decisions.
Jeremy Cole pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Witsoe and allowed just one hit. Cole, a junior college (Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif.) transfer, has now allowed just two earned runs over three appearances and nine innings this season.
“That was good to see,” said Powers of Cole’s outing. “He’s nipping at the heels of a couple guys for more pitching opportunities. You know, we have 17 pitchers on our roster right now so there aren’t that many innings to go around each weekend. So when you do get out there and get an opportunity, you need that killer instinct, that tenacity to go after people and he’s done a real good job of that.”
A pair of northern Nevada freshmen, right-handers Tom Jameson and Jerad Harvey, pitched the final two innings for the Pack. Jameson, a Reno High graduate, pitched the eighth inning, allowing three runs on two hits and a walk. Harvey, a North Valleys High graduate, allowing three hits and a walk and four runs (one earned) in the ninth.
The Pack ran all over the Bears, swiping six bases. Shortstop Kevin Rodland stole two bases and now has eight steals this year. Right fielder Ronnie Mitchell stole his first two bases of the year.
The top five hitters in the Pack lineup (Rodland, Westley Moss, Barnett, Stassi and Leid) each had two hits and combined to go 10-for-19 with 13 runs scored and 10 RBI.
Barnett scored four runs and drove in four. Stassi scored two and drove in three. Rodland and Moss each scored twice and Leid scored three runs and drove in a pair.
Leid is now hitting .526 (10-for-19) on the year with eight RBI. Barnett is hitting .412 (14-for-34) with 11 RBI and six doubles. Stassi is at .448 (13-of-29) with eight RBI.
“The top two guys in the order (Rodland and Moss) have done a great job of getting on base and giving our 3, 4, 5 hitters opportunities to drive in runs,” Powers said. “Brian (Barnett) is swinging the bat real well and Nick Leid has taken advantage of his opportunities real well.”
The 17 runs is a season high for the Pack, topping the 15 scored in a 15-9 win at Santa Clara on Feb. 20. The five-run sixth and the six-run fifth are the Pack’s top two scoring outputs in one inning this year.