Byler Hits Walk-Off Home Run in Nevada's Peccole Debut
Senior Austin Byler hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, leading Nevada to a comeback victory over Fresno State Friday evening. The Wolf Pack (5-0, 1-0) overturned a six-run deficit in front of 1,416 fans in its 2015 Peccole Park and Mountain West debut.
After opening the season with four road wins in Texas, including an upset of fifth-ranked Texas Tech, Nevada improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1994. Byler scored four runs in the victory and improved to eighth in Nevada's career home run record book (30).
“Our team showed great character tonight and just kept after it,” said head coach Jay Johnson. “We knew it would be difficult against that pitching staff and it was. We showed a lot of resiliency. It was a great win in front of a strong Peccole crowd.”
Nevada took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after a walk with the bases loaded before each team was held scoreless in the second, third and fourth innings.
Fresno State, who entered the game with the MW's top team batting average, hung seven runs in the top of the fifth inning behind a two-RBI single, a run via error and a three-RBI double. Nevada's 7-1 deficit was its largest of the season.
The Wolf Pack got one run back in the bottom of the fifth as Byler scored on a wild pitch. Junior Ryan Howell, leading the team in batting average and slugging percentage, continued his strong start to the season in the bottom of the sixth. The Brentwood, Calif., native blasted a three-RBI triple to the wall, scoring Byler and seniors Kewby Meyer and Kyle Hunt.
The Bulldogs scored a run in the top of the eighth to take an 8-5 lead before sophomore Trenton Brooks yet again provided heroics for Nevada in the bottom of the frame. After hitting a grand slam in Nevada's upset of the Red Raiders, Brooks tied the game at eight-all with a three-run homer on two outs. Brooks leads the MW in RBI this season with 12.
Freshman Cal Stevenson tallied his first collegiate hit in the bottom of the ninth, but Nevada went to extra innings for the first time this season.
Junior Adam Whitt posted three outs on four at bats in the top of the 10th, bringing up the heart of Nevada's lineup in the 10th inning. Byler, who entered the game with an NCAA-high three home runs, stepped to the plate with one out. The Peoria, Ariz., native hit his 30th career home run on a 1-2 count over the left, center field wall and the Nevada dugout exploded in celebration.
Junior Michael Fain started on the mound, pitching 4.0 innings while allowing four runs in a no-decision. Juniors Alex Lott, Cameron Rowland and Zach Wilkins pitched in relief before setting Whitt up for the win. Whitt surrendered two hits and no runs in 2.0 innings of work.
The Wolf Pack posted seven hits from seven different batters while taking 11 bases on balls and two hit by pitches. Byler led Nevada with four runs scored, while Meyer and Hunt each added two runs.
Game two between the Wolf Pack and the Bulldogs will begin at 1 p.m. PT, Saturday at Peccole Park.