Wolf Pack wins final tune-up before WAC tournament
For the Nevada Appeal
The Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team will head into this week’s Western Athletic Conference tournament with a dugout full of positive thoughts.
“I like the way we’re playing right now,” first baseman Shaun Kort said after the Pack beat Louisiana Tech, 10-5, on Sunday at Peccole Park in its final tuneup for the postseason tournament.
The Pack, which finished the regular season at 34-20-1 overall and 14-9-1 in the WAC, earned the third seed in the conference tournament. They will open the six-team, double-elimination tournament Wednesday night (7:30 p.m.) at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz., against sixth-seeded San Jose State.
The top two seeds, Fresno State (35-23, 16-8) and New Mexico State (36-21-1, 14-9-1), earned first-round byes. The only other game on Wednesday will be fourth-seeded Hawaii (29-25, 12-12) against fifth-seeded Louisiana Tech (27-28, 11-13) at 4 p.m.
“This team has overcome a lot this year,” Pack coach Gary Powers said. “We’re playing pretty good baseball right now.”
The victory on Sunday gave the Pack a share of second place in the conference. Nevada, which has never finished first in the WAC since entering the league in 2001, has now finished second four times (2003, 2007, 2008 and this year).
New Mexico State was awarded the second seed in the tournament based on its 2-1-1 series victory over the Wolf Pack in Las Cruces, N.M. on April 9-11.
The Wolf Pack, though, is playing as well as any team in the WAC right now. The Pack has won seven of its last eight games and 11 of its last 14.
“Our offense is clicking now,” said Brian Barnett, who hit his team-leading 18th home run of the season in the sixth inning. “It’s been a good year so far.”
Devon Dageford hit his 17th home run and Clint Ewing hit his 10th as Louisiana Tech took a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning.
The Pack, though, wiped out that deficit with four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Barnett hit a two-run homer, Garrett Yrigoyen drove in a run with a single and Brock Stassi scored as Michael Turay hit into a double play for a 5-3 Pack lead.
Louisiana Tech, which came into the game tied with Hawaii for fourth place, tied the game at 5-5 in the seventh on a two-run homer by Will Alvis (his 13th of the year).
Joe Kohan, who entered the game in the top of the sixth as a defensive replacement for Cullen Mahoney at second base, then won the game with his bat and his legs in the final three innings.
Kohan hit a solo home run in the seventh to give the Pack a 6-5 lead. The home run was Kohan’s first of the year in 85 at-bats.
Kohan then drove in two runs with a single in the eighth inning to give the Pack a 9-5 lead. The sophomore later in the inning came all the way around to score the Pack’s final run from first base on an errant throw by Louisiana Tech first baseman Alex Williams.
The winner of the WAC tournament earns the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA regionals. The Wolf Pack has not played in a regional since its final year in the Big West Conference in 2000.