– In an elimination game between the 2015 Mountain West Championship's top two seeds, No. 23 Nevada suffered a 9-7 setback to second-seeded San Diego State on Thursday evening at Peccole Park. The game saw four lead changes before the Aztecs (36-21) prevailed and advanced on the bottom side of the bracket.
The Wolf Pack – who won the MW regular season title – falls to 41-15 with the loss. Nevada will now await its NCAA fate as the NCAA Regional Selection Show is slated for 9 a.m. PT, Monday on ESPNU. After reaching the second-most wins in a regular season in program history, the Pack will be hoping to hear its name called and become the fifth team in school history to qualify for NCAA Regionals.
“A bad 16 hours does nothing to define this team or change what they accomplished this season,” said head coach Jay Johnson. “They played their hearts out and did everything that we asked of them. I'm proud of them for that.”
The Wolf Pack faced an early deficit for the second straight game when San Diego State scored two runs on two hits in the first inning. Spencer Thornton delivered a two-RBI double for the Aztecs to open the scoring. Nevada responded with three runs to lead, 3-2, after the first. Trenton Brooks doubled and scored on Austin Byler's RBI single. With two on and two outs, a throwing error on a double steal allowed Kewby Meyer and Byler each to score and claim a lead.
San Diego State climbed back in front in the third inning with three runs from a pair of homers, taking a 5-3 lead while forcing senior RHP Jason Deitrich to relieve starting pitcher Evan McMahan. Byler trimmed the deficit to one run with his 40th career home run – a solo shot to left-center in the bottom third. Byler is now tied with Shawn Scobee (2005-09) for third in program history in career homers.
After scoreless frames in the fourth and fifth, Nevada claimed the lead in the bottom fifth with two runs on two hits. Byler registered his third straight hit and Greager drew a walk to put two on base for freshman designated hitter Jordan Pearce. The Oceanside, Calif., native hit a two-out double to the wall and scored both runs to put Nevada in front, 6-5.
Sophomore Andrew Brown hit a solo homer run to tie the game at 6-6 in the top sixth for the Aztecs and snap a streak of 10 straight outs from Deitrich. The Aztecs threatened to do more in the top seventh with the bases loaded and one our but junior RHP Adam Whitt produced a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
The game's fourth lead change came in the top eighth as San Diego State scored two runs on one swing of the bat. Justin Wylie hit a two-run homer and put the Aztecs up 8-6 with six outs left.
The Pack trimmed the lead to one with an RBI-double from Kewby Meyer, his 70th career double, in the bottom eighth. Cal Stevenson scored on the play after reaching with a one-out single, but the Aztecs threw out Trenton Brooks at home to preserve a one-run lead.
In the top of the ninth, the Aztecs expanded its lead to 9-7 on Seby Zavala's second homer of the game. The five home runs from San Diego State is the most Nevada allowed in a game all season.
The Wolf Pack rallied in the bottom of the ninth after a lead-off out, loading the bases following a walk from Pearce and consecutive singles by Jordan Devencenzi and Kyle Hunt. The Aztecs produced a pop foul-out and a strikeout to leave three on base and halt Nevada's comeback attempt.
Nevada finished with seven runs on 15 hits. Byler went 3-of-4 with two RBI and three runs. Stevenson added a three-hit effort at the plate, while Brooks, Hunt and Pearce each registered two hits. The Pack used five pitchers in the loss.
San Diego State scored nine runs on five homers and 10 hits overall. The Aztecs used six pitchers while closer Mark Seyler earned the win. San Diego State will play the loser of tonight's Game 7 between No. 3 Fresno State and No. 4 New Mexico at 3 p.m. PT on Saturday.