Nevada baseball plays from late February to the end of the school year. Believe it, there is a team in flesh and blood, a team that plays at the stadium at the other end of campus at William Peccole Park. While they are having a down year this season, the competitive fight is still very much there.
The Division-1 team itself is led by T.J. Bruce, who is in his second season at the helm as the Wolf Pack’s head coach. This is a system that has produced major leaguers such as Chris Singleton, Lyle Overbay, Chad Qualls and Kevin Kouzmanoff. Despite having successful major league stars in the professional ranks, the team is withering away this season with a dismal 13-27 record.
The problem isn’t entirely the offense, as the team has a collective .271 batting average on the season. The problem may lie in the pitching, with their staggering team ERA plateauing at 5.30.
Altitude wreaks havoc on pitchers in general. With Reno at 4,500 feet above sea level, the ball is accustomed to flying around Peccole and also in Reno’s Triple-A Affiliate Aces’ Greater Nevada Federal Credit Union Ballpark. Because of this, Reno is a hitter friendly city given the altitude and wind conditions. In order for Nevada to be successful, the pitching must be good enough with a rolling offense. For some teams, a .271 batting average may be decent, but there is more to be desired.
Pitchers who’ve encountered the difficulty of pitching in Reno include starting pitcher Riley Ohl, Austin Dick, and Mark Nowaczewski, who each have sub-4 ERAs.
While the defense may have its struggles, the bright spots on the team include infielder Keaton Smith who is batting .311 with four home runs and 20 RBIs. Also, Jordan Pierce is batting steadily with a .309 batting average with four home runs and 18 RBIs.
While the Nevada Baseball program is having its struggles, its club program counterpart Club Nevada Baseball is having a surplus of success these days.
They are 11-3 overall and lead the Division 2 Southern Pacific North Conference. Some have decided to play club baseball over playing the actual school team due to the fact that it is less intensive and involves less commitment.
The club team participates in tournaments with other colleges such as St. Mary’s, UC Davis and Stanford. Most tournaments are played at these schools and are spread out. Practices are only a few hours a week. The baseball program of Club Nevada Baseball has history and has its place in Division-1 collegiate baseball.
There is a chance of growth for the team if the school promotes itself as a sports-oriented school and markets to a place where students want to play baseball. This may be difficult since Nevada lacks a Major League Baseball team (though the Triple-A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks resides in Reno).
With the success of the basketball team this season, there is some expectation of the Nevada sports teams to follow-up with. Football at the University of Nevada, Reno, is a tradition but with limited success. Baseball is on the same page. Nevada is growing as a sports school.
With the basketball team being in March Madness and getting national attention, it could help other sports programs in the school succeed. In my honest opinion, there is hope for the future for this baseball team, but there are a number of things to do to make it happen.