The Nevada men’s baseball team is off to a solid 2-1 start to the 2019 campaign after picking up a pair wins in the Texas State Tournament. Nevada averaged over seven runs per game during the three-game series and also pitched a shutout on the defensive end.
Nevada’s well-rounded play has the team looking to repeat as Mountain West champions. They were slated to finish in second place behind San Diego State in the Mountain West Preseason Poll.
Feb. 15 vs. No. 24 Missouri State
The Wolf Pack’s bats came alive in a 16-4 rout of the No. 24 Missouri State Bears Friday, Feb. 15. Nevada’s 16 runs mark the most they have scored in a season opener since 1974.
The Pack tallied 14 hits and smacked four home runs on the day. They scored two or more runs in four separate innings. Kaleb Foster went 1-2 with a homer, three RBI and two walks. Jaylon McLaughlin and Keaton Smith each launched no-doubt three-run homers to deep right field. Weston Hatten added a team-high three hits and one RBI.
Southpaw Ryan Anderson recorded his first win of the year, giving up just one earned run on four hits with six strikeouts in five innings of work. Anderson painted the corners with his two-seam fastball and kept opposing batters off guard with several off-speed breaking balls cutting across the plate.
Nevada tacked on one run apiece in the first and second innings highlighted by Hatten’s triple down the third base line, he later touched home plate off a fielding error by shortstop Mason Hull. The Pack added two more runs in the third courtesy of Foster’s home run to right-center field, giving them a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Anderson finished the Bears’ top of the order in one-two-three fashion, he struck out catcher Drew Miles on a hanging breaking ball to close out the inning. Missouri State scored its first run of the contest in the fourth inning with a Jack Duffy RBI infield single. The Wolf Pack responded with another run in the top of the fifth. Josh Zamora led off the inning with a booming triple, he later touched home plate after Hatten was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
McLaughlin’s bomb gave the Wolf Pack a commanding 10-1 lead in the seventh. Nevada continued to pour it on with a five-run eighth inning capped-off by Smith’s three-run blast. The Bears tacked on three runs in the ninth, but Nevada’s offensive assault was too much to handle.
Feb. 16 vs. Texas State (Tournament Host)
Freshman right-hander Owen Sharts nabbed his first career win in shutout fashion during Nevada’s 4-0 victory over the Texas State Bobcats. The Wolf Pack recorded just five hits on the afternoon, but Sharts’ dominant outing on the mound propelled the Pack to victory.
Sharts tossed a strong seven innings, surrendering just three hits and one walk with three punchouts. Sharts had great command of his fastball up in the zone and it helped him get into early 0-2 counts, but his sweeping slider was the knockout pitch of his arsenal.
Offensively, the Wolf Pack’s timely hitting was just enough for them to escape with the win. Joshua Zamora was the primary attack at the plate, going 3-5 with his first homer of the season to go along with three RBI. Marco Valenzuela went 1-2 with an RBI single.
Texas State pitcher Hunter McMahon kept Nevada’s bats in check for a large portion of five innings, but Nevada took advantage of some crucial miscues in the first. Valenzuela drew a walk, and Keaton Smith reached on a fielding error to put both runners in scoring position. Zamora capitalized with a two-RBI blast skipping up the middle between short and second to give Nevada a 2-0 lead.
Valenzuela continued his productive day in the bottom half of the first with a double play off a bunt that rolled right in front him at home plate. His RBI single scored Zamora and brought Nevada’s lead up to 3-0.
Sharts blanked the Bobcats through the fifth inning, keeping them off guard with a heavy dose of fastballs inside and breaking balls on the corners. Nevada tacked on another run courtesy of Zamora’s long bomb to deep left field off of relief pitcher Brayden Theriot.
Shane Gustafson came in relief for the Wolf Pack in the eighth inning. He sealed out the final two frames to keep the shutout intact.
Feb. 17 vs. Utah
Utah’s five-run sixth inning was more than enough for the Utes to secure a 6-3 win over the Nevada Wolf Pack Sunday. Nevada had a two-run lead at the end of five innings, but Utah’s sixth inning flurry captured all momentum and propelled them to victory.
Nevada laced 11 hits on the day and two extra base-hits. Kaleb Foster went 2-4 with two RBI. Jaylon McLaughlin finished 2-5 with one RBI. Josh Zamora added three hits.
Freshman right-hander Tyler Smith gave up three earned runs on two hits and three walks with four strikeouts in five innings. Smith blanked Utah for a good part of four innings, but the Utes battled back with hitter-friendly counts and took advantage with rips in the outfield.
The Wolf Pack jumped out to 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the first inning. Foster jumped on a hanging fastball and slapped up the gut of the infield, scoring Zamora. Foster struck again in the third with an RBI single down the first base line, putting the Pack up 2-0.
Both teams remained quiet offensively until the Utes responded with a four-hit, five-run sixth inning, highlighted by Dominic Foscalina’s two-RBI double. Utah added another run in the top of the seventh with a Shea Kramer RBI single through the left side.
Nevada scored its final run in the bottom of the seventh, as McLaughlin reached on an infield single that scored Dillan Shrum and cut the deficit to 6-3. Utah relievers Joshua Tedeschi and Dustyn Schramm kept Nevada’s bats in check for the latter half of two innings. Schramm forced a softly-hit ground ball and ended the game on a 6-4-3 double play.
The Wolf Pack remain on the road in a matchup against UC Davis Tuesday, Feb. 19. The Aggies are off to a quick 2-0 start this season with a pair of wins versus the Northern Colorado Bears.
Isaiah Burrows can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.