Nevada received a dominant pitching effort to win on just three hits, defeating New Mexico by a 3-1 margin Saturday afternoon at Peccole Park. The 28th-ranked Wolf Pack took sole possession of the conference lead in front of 1,377 fans while improving its record to 14-4 overall and 6-2 in the Mountain West.
After losing the series opener by a 3-1 count, Nevada returned the favor in game two. Senior RHP Jason Deitrich shined on the mound for a third straight start while helping Nevada pull level in the series. The 6-foot-6 hurler allowed one run, five hits and one walk in 6.1 innings to improve to 3-1.
Senior Austin Byler hit a lead-off home run in the first inning and drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth to lead Nevada to a victory despite its lowest hit-total of the season. The Lobos fall to 11-5 overall and 5-3 in the MW.
“I'm proud of our team today for winning a game where the opponent isn't leaving the ball over the plate and limits our ability to hit for extra bases,” said head coach Jay Johnson. “This is a great example of finding a way to win in a tough game. I haven't won many games coaching when we've only had three hits.”
Deitrich threw 89 pitches for 56 strikes to stymie the Lobos, limiting them to their lowest run total of the season. In his past three starts, the Garden Grove, Calif., native has allowed just three runs and 18 hits in 22 innings of work, lowering his ERA from 2.89 to 1.72.
Byler, a preseason consensus All-American, batted lead-off for the first time this season. On a 0-1 count, the slugger homered over the left field fence to give Nevada the lead in the first inning. Byler has five home runs on the season and 31 in his collegiate career. Nevada has hit a MW-leading 20 home runs this season.
The Lobos pulled even in the top of the third inning when junior Jared Holley hit his first home run of his career.
The Wolf Pack plated the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth after freshman Cal Stevenson drew a full-count walk in a nine-pitch at bat. Senior Kyle Hunt bunted down the left field line to advance Stevenson to third base while being thrown out. With the Lobo defense sitting deep in the infield, Byler drove in Stevenson with a groundout to put Nevada in front, 2-1.
Nevada scored on insurance run in the bottom eighth after junior Ryan Howell drew a walk. Sophomore Trenton Brooks advanced Howell to second base and senior Kewby Meyer stepped to the plate with one out. Meyer lined a single to center field, scoring Howell from second as Nevada took a 3-1 lead entering the ninth.
Deitrich pitched into the seventh inning before freshman LHP Jojo Romero entered the game with one out and a runner on second. Romero earned a groundout and strikeout to end the inning before retiring the side in order in the eighth. Romero has allowed no runs and two hits in his past three appearances out of the bullpen.
Junior Adam Whitt entered the game in the top of the ninth and slammed the door shut with a strikeout and two groundouts. The Carson City native tallied his eighth save of the season and the 16th of his career, improving to third in program history in career saves. Whitt hasn't allowed a run in his past eight appearances to lower his team-best ERA to 0.66.
Byler, Meyer and Brooks tallied Nevada's three hits on the game. Neither team had a player with more than one hit.
The series finale between the Wolf Pack and Lobos is set for 1 p.m. PT, Sunday at Peccole Park.