The Nevada Wolf Pack’s dreams of winning the Mountain West tournament came to a stunning end on Friday.
The San Diego State Aztecs hit five home runs to eliminate the Wolf Pack 9-7 from the tournament at Peccole Park. The Wolf Pack, now losers of three in a row for the first time this season, fell to 41-15 and will need to be given an at large bid to take part in next week’s NCAA Regionals.
The Wolf Pack picked the wrong time to go through its longest losing streak of the year. The Wolf Pack lost its final regular season game last weekend to Air Force and then lost both of its tournament games to New Mexico and San Diego State. The Aztecs, which finished second to the Wolf Pack in the regular season, improved to 36-21.
The Aztecs got home runs from Seby Zavala (two), Justin Wylie, Andrew Brown and Danny Sheehan to shock the Wolf Pack. Seven of the Aztecs’ nine runs came on home runs. Austin Byler had three hits and scored three runs for the Wolf Pack and also hit a home run.
“We’re not a home run hitting team,” San Diego State coach Mark Martinez said. “We just told out guys to manage their at-bats well and put good swings on it. Luckily the wind was blowing out to the pull side. It was just a good offensive day for us.”
Zavala now has 12 home runs this year. Sheehan has five, Wylie three and Brown hit his first of the season. Both of Zavala’s homers were over 400 feet to straightaway center field. The other Aztecs homers were to left and left-center field as was Byler’s.
“We were just trying to win the game and trying to get to the next level,” Zavala said. “I just wanted to take good swings.
“This was a big game for us. We came out ready to play.”
The Aztecs took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a two-run double by Spencer Thornton off Pack starter Evan McMahan. McMahan didn’t get out of the third innings, surrendering five hits and five runs in just 2.1 innings.
The Wolf Pack, though, took a 3-2 lead with three runs in the bottom of the first inning off Aztecs’ starter Cody Thompson. Byler drove in a run with a single for the first run. Byler and Kewby Meyer then both scored on a double steal and an Aztecs’ error to take the lead.
San Diego State went back on top 5-3 with three runs in the third as Sheehan hit a solo homer and Zavala hit a two-run shot off McMahan. The Pack closed to within 5-4 as Byler drilled a solo home run. The Pack then took a 6-5 lead with two runs in the fifth as Jordan Pearce doubled in a pair of runs off Aztecs’ reliever Brett Seeburger. A home run by the Aztecs’ Brown, though, tied things up at 6-6 in the sixth.
Brown’s homer was the only run Jason Deitrich allowed in 3.2 solid innings of relief.
The Aztecs broke the tie with a two-run homer by Wylie off Pack reliever Adam Whitt in the eighth inning. A run-scoring double by Meyer pulled the Pack to within 8-7 in the bottom of the eighth but Trent Brooks was also thrown out at home on the play. Zavala’s second home run of the game, a solo shot in the ninth, closed out the scoring.
The Pack, though, nearly stole the victory in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with just one out an a walk to Pearce and singles by Jordan Devencenzi and Kyle Hunt. San Diego State’s Marcus Reyes, however, got Cal Stevenson to foul out to the catcher for the second out and then fanned Brooks, the Conference’s Player of the Year, to end the game.
The Wolf Pack had 15 hits. Stevenson and Byler each had three hits and Brooks, Pearce and Hunt each had two. Whitt suffered the loss to fall to 2-2 on the year.
The Wolf Pack baseball program still has yet to win a conference tournament or regional since joining Division I in 1970.
“We don’t normally play well in this park against Nevada,” Martinez said. “Our history here has been bad. It was just a gutty performance by our guys.”