May 3, 2008
RUSTON, La. - Nevada got a handful of timely hits and made several outstanding defensive plays as Louisiana Tech's four-game winning streak came to a halt on Saturday afternoon with an 8-4 loss to the Wolf Pack at J.C. Love Field.
"Nevada has some quality arms," Tech coach Wade Simoneaux said. "And they made some quality plays.
"I enjoyed coaching our team today because they competed until the last out with a team that's fighting for a conference title. We put ourselves in a position and gave ourselves a chance to win both games."
Tech (20-25, 5-19 WAC) still remains mathematically alive for the final spot in the WAC Tournament, but another loss or two could spell disaster for the Bulldogs at this point. Meanwhile, Nevada (26-19, 13-9 WAC) is scoreboard-watching as well, hoping for Fresno State to drop a few of its remaining games to propel the Wolf Pack to the conference lead.
A beautiful day at J.C. Love Field and a pair of great baseball games seemed to take a back seat to a scary moment in the ninth inning of the second game. Nevada second baseman David Ciarlo was hit in the face by a John Anderson fastball and eventually had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.
"It was just a pitch that got away from John," Simoneaux said. "And it had some serious velocity; it was a solid pitch. Ciarlo is a great competitor, and we wish him nothing but the best."
The hit batter had a practical effect on the outcome as well as the pinch runner eventually scored on a two-out, bases-loaded double by Shaun Kort to extend the Wolf Pack lead to 8-4, virtually snuffing out a Tech comeback attempt.
Jericho Jones (5-5) was charged with the loss but made another quality start, giving up four runs (three earned) in 6.1 innings pitched while scattering eight hits. Anderson was strong over 2.1 innings, but was charged with the three runs in the ninth.
Tech jumped out to a first-inning lead courtesy of a pair of singles from Grunenwald and Winn, then a sacrifice fly from Jones scored Grunenwald to give the `Dawgs a 1-0 lead.
Nevada would tie it in the third after Jason Sadoian doubled to score Ciarlo from first, pulling the score even at 1-1. Tech would then see a great chance to retake the lead snatched away on a leaping grab by Jason Rodriguez at third, then throwing on to first to double off Kersten, who was running on the pitch.
The Wolf Pack would finally break the tie in the seventh with a two-run homer just inside the right-field foul pole by Mike Hale, making it 3-1. Nevada would then add two more after an error and a base hit led to a two-out double from Matt Bowman that made it 5-1.
Kersten's three-run blast in the bottom of the eighth kept hope alive as the `Dawgs were back within a run at 5-4. After Patrick Thomas walked and Clay Alexander ripped a single to center, the `Dawgs had a chance to tie or retake the lead with one swing of the bat. Drew Bunting pinch-hit for Matt Combs and laced a line drive to left, but a tremendous diving catch saved at least one run and probably two. Cobb would then go down on strikes to end the threat.
The Bulldogs then could not overcome the three-run ninth by the Pack, leaving one runner on in the bottom half.
The two teams will conclude the four-game series on Sunday with a doubleheader slated to begin at 1 p.m. Tech's seven seniors - Landon Braud, Drew Bunting, Adam Cobb, Albie Goulder, Alan Knotts, Andrew Lassere and Aaron Lorio - will be honored prior to the first game with a ceremony slated to begin at approximately 12:45 p.m. The broadcast for both games can be heard on ESPN 97.7 FM (online at www.espn977.com) and live stats will be available through the official site of Louisiana Tech athletics, www.latechsports.com.