Wolf Pack baseball team falls short of sweep | NevadaAppeal.com

Wolf Pack baseball team falls short of sweep

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

 The Nevada Wolf Pack played the role of a gracious host Sunday afternoon at Peccole Park.

 “It’s like I told our team after the game,” Pack coach Gary Powers said after a 10-3 loss to the UC Irvine Anteaters in front of 855 fans.  “I don’t feel we got beat. We just put ourselves in position to lose.”

 The Anteaters, ranked 13th in the nation by Baseball America, took advantage of a sloppy Wolf Pack team to salvage the final game of this three-game series. The Wolf Pack, now 12-11, beat the Anteaters 5-3 and 6-4 to open the series on Friday and Saturday and were looking for their first three-game series sweep since last April in Reno against Cal State Bakersfield.

 “We had our opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them,” said Powers, who will coach his 1,500th game for the Wolf Pack on Tuesday (4 p.m.) against the UNLV Rebels at Peccole Park. “But that’s how you get beat 10-3.”

 The Pack left eight men on base, all from the second through the seventh innings. They left the bases loaded in the fifth and stranded runners on second and third in the sixth.

 “Their guy (starter Eric Pettis) made some quality pitches to our younger guys who had trouble handling his off-speed stuff,” Powers said. “Hopefully our young players will learn from this.”

 Pettis fanned freshman Ronnie Mitchell with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning, struck out sophomore Nick Melino to end the third inning with runners on first and second and got freshman Carlos Escobar to pop up a bunt with no outs and two runners on base in the sixth.

 Pettis got out of the sixth inning without any damage after getting a couple of veterans, seniors Kevin Rodland and Westley Moss, on a ground out (Rodland) and a fly out (Moss) to end the threat.

 “We had a chance in the fifth and sixth inning to get to him and knock him out of the game,” Powers said.

 Pettis, though, lasted eight innings to earn the victory and improve to 4-0 in eight games (six starts). Kyle Necke pitched the ninth for the Anteaters and didn’t allow a ball to be put in play, fanning pinch-hitters Cullen Mahoney, Garrett Yrigoyen and Brett Hart to close out the game.

 Irvine took a 2-0 lead with runs in the second and third inning against Pack starter Brock Stassi. Jeff Cusick and Ronnie Shaeffer doubled for a run in the second inning and Francis Larson singled home Sean Madigan for a 2-0 lead in the third.

 The Pack, though, evened the score at 2-2 in the third. Rodland doubled home Joe Kohan for the first run and the shortstop later scored in the inning on a balk by Pettis.

 Irvine (14-8) broke the game open with four runs in the fifth. Three of the runs, though, were unearned as the Pack committed two costly errors by Moss in center and Nick Leid at third base. Stassi, who struggled with his control, also hit a batter in the inning.

 “They get four runs in the inning when they shouldn’t have scored any,” Powers said. “We gave them an opportunity to beat us and they did just that. But that’s what good teams do. It’s what we did in the first two games of this series.”

 Stassi, who came into the game with a 2.64 earned run average, lasted five innings and allowed five earned runs. He was removed after walking Madigan and giving up a run-scoring double to Casey Stevenson to open the sixth. Stevenson later scored in the inning on a sacrifice fly by Cusick for a 8-3 Irvine lead.

 The Pack used five different pitchers over the final four innings. Reno High graduate Tom Jameson fared the best out of the five, pitching a scoreless sixth and seventh innings.

 Powers, though, had a quick hook for the final four Pack relievers.

 Carson High graduate Anthony Fagan walked the only hitter he faced and North Valleys High graduate Jerad Harvey was removed after striking out a hitter and hitting one with a pitch. Tyler Rogstad faced five hitters (retiring three, walking one and allowing a homer to Shaeffer) and Wooster High graduate Jesse Rasner got the final two outs after surrendering a double to pinch-hitter Dillon Bell.

 “Hopefully we’ll take this experience and learn from it,” Powers said. “Hopefully, we grew up a little as a team this weekend.”

 Powers, whose team was swept in a four-game series last weekend at Oregon, said the series against Irvine was a positive one for the Pack.

 “It was extremely successful weekend for our team,” Powers said. “This should show us that if we go out and do the things we’re capable of, we can play with anybody on our schedule. We want to play every weekend like that.”

 The Wolf Pack’s current eight-game homestand will continue on Tuesday against UNLV. The Pack also announced Sunday that the starting times for its three-game series with Seattle next week have been changed to 2 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and noon on Saturday. The Pack will also play UC Davis on April 5 at home starting at 2:30 p.m.