Wolf Pack eliminated from WAC Tournament | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Wolf Pack eliminated from WAC Tournament

FRESNO – There is no defense against the walk, and Nevada learned that the hard way Saturday night.

Nevada starter Matt Renfree walked five batters in the first two innings plus he yielded a two-run homer to Justin Frash and a grandslam to Derek DuPree, as Hawai’i eliminated the Wolf Pack 11-2 in the Western Athletic Conference semifinals at Beiden Field.

Nevada had dropped into the loser’s bracket earlier in the day when it dropped a 15-3 decision to Fresno State. The top-seeded Bulldogs (43-16) defeated Hawai’i (42-15) 8-4 in the title game Sunday.

Nevada ended the season 26-28 despite winning nine of its last 11 games.

“You can’t go out and walk 12 and let six score and think you can overcome it,” Nevada coach Gary Powers said. “Matt couldn’t control the strike zone with any of his pitches. I don’t ever think he got into a rhythm. He even tried to do too much at times. When you have a lack of experience in this role, things like that happen.

“I’m so proud of the team to get where they got. They have nothing to be ashamed of.”

The strong finish bodes well for next year, according to Dayton’s Matt Bowman.

“Finishing up with a nine-game streak (before today), that’s something we can carry into next year,” Bowman said. “I look around the infield, and we had three sophomores and a freshman.”

Hawai’i coach Mike Trapasso admitted that the walks and getting the early lead were huge.

“We got a break with the walks,” Trapasso said. “It was like last night’s game. They got seven runs with two swings of the bat, and we got six.

“To get a lead early was important. I definitely think playing back-to-back is easier than playing a split double-header like Nevada did.”

In the first, Robbie Wilder walked, and after DuPree struck out, Frash launched a homer to deep right-center field to make it 2-0. Renfree fanned Luis Avila and got Matt Inouye on a fly to center.

Renfree retired the first two batters to start the second, but walked Jorge Franco, Jonathan Hee and Wilder to load the bases. The latter walk came after a 2-2 pitch to Wilder was ruled wide. DuPree followed with his bases-clearing bomb, the first of his career, to make it 6-0.

Chris Scott came on in the third and surrendered a run on two walks, a single and an error by second baseman David Ciarlo.

Nevada made it 7-1 in the fourth when Shawn Scobee homered deep to left field, his 22nd of the season and 40th of his career, moving him into third place all time ahead of Jacob Butler and Lyle Overbay.

Nevada added another run off winning pitcher Mark Rodriguez when Durrell Williams singled with one out and scored on Bowman’s double off the right field fence.

Inouye drove in a run in the fourth to make it 8-2.

The Pack’s offense went into hibernation the rest of the game, getting just two baserunners in the last three innings.

Rodriguez, who missed the last two seasons because of Tommy John surgery, allowed two runs and six hits over seven innings. Darrell Fisherbaugh pitched two hitless innings of relief.

“He really did (pitch well),” Trapasso said. ‘He was our fourth starter all year. He hadn’t gone that long all year. I couldn’t have asked anything more out of him.”

Other than the two innings when Nevada scored, Rodriguez was never in serious trouble.

Hawai’i made it 10-2 in the bottom of the sixth, roughing up freshman Jeremy Joustra, who didn’t retire a hitter in facing four batters. Hawai’i pushed across its final run in the eighth.

In the morning game, the Pack hung tough for six innings with Fresno State before the game got out of hand in the top of the seventh when the top-seeded Bulldogs scored six runs to take an 11-3 lead.

Singles by Erik Wetzel (2-for-4) and Loren Story (2-for-6, 3 RBI) put runners at first and second with no outs. Travis Sutton, 5-4, struck out Ozzie Lewis, but Steve Susdorf doubled home Wetzel to make it 6-3. Sutton plunked Kent Sakamoto to load the bases and Nick Moresi (2-for-5) singled past a drawn-in infield for two runs and an 8-3 advantage.

Sutton exited in favor of Kody Keroher, and things continued to spiral out of control. Brian Lapin (2-for-4, 2 RBI) doubled home Sakamoto, and Todd Sandell (2-for-5, 5 RBI) doubled home two more runs to end the barrage.

For good measure, the Bulldogs scored four runs off Adam Colton in the top of the ninth, three coming on Sandell’s homer.

“Fresno State is a good team,” Powers said. “They are No. 1 for a reason. We battled for six innings. It’s a game of inches. The line drive (by Susdorf) we missed at third .. we can’t worry about that now.

“I thought he (Sutton) competed well. He made one bad pitch to Storey and he took advantage of it. The numbers don’t show it, but I thought he pitched better than the numbers show.”

The Bulldogs, who are now without third baseman Beau Mills (academic) and shortstop Christian Vitters (broken finger on Friday afternoon), received great production from Sandell and Wetzel, the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters in the lineup. The duo went 4-for-9 with five RBI.

Sandell said coach Mike Batesole went around to every player and told them what they individually needed to do to help the team win. In Sandell’s case, the message was play defense and have good team at-bats.

The five-RBI game was obviously a huge thing for Sandell and the Bulldogs. It’s not often that a No. 8 hitter delivers like that.

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