The Nevada Wolf Pack’s record seven-game season-opening winning streak disappeared into the depths of Sunken Diamond on Tuesday.
The Wolf Pack, now 7-1, let a 5-2 fifth-inning lead slip away as the Stanford Cardinal scored the final four runs to steal a 6-5 victory in front of 1,168 fans at Stanford. Despite the loss the Wolf Pack’s 7-1 record is still its best after eight games since the 1995 season.
Stanford, now 4-4, scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on a double by Matt Winaker off Pack reliever Cameron Rowland. Rowland (2-1) also allowed a single to Jonny Locher and a walk to Beau Branton in the inning and also balked Locher to second.
The victory went to Logan James, who pitched a scoreless top of the ninth inning for Stanford despite walking Cal Stevenson and allowing a single to Kyle Hunt with two outs. James got Kewby Meyer to ground out to third to end the inning. Chris Viall went four inning for Stanford and allowed two hits and three runs while striking out five. Viall came on in relief and surrendered three runs to the Pack in the fifth inning as Stanford fell behind 5-2. Viall, though, recovered nicely to shut out the Pack in the sixth, seven and eighth innings to make the Cardinal comeback possible.
The Pack built its 5-2 lead with single runs in the first and third innings and three in the fifth. Ryan Howell singled in Meyer in the first off Stanford starter Brett Hanewich (two innings, one hit, one run) and Meyer singled home Stevenson in the third as the Pack took a 2-0 lead.
Stanford scored a pair of runs in the fourth as Winnaker had a run-scoring triple and later scored off Pack starter Barry Timko. Timko went four innings and allowed two runs on five hits.
The Pack seemingly broke the game open in the fifth. Stevenson walked and went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single by Austin Byler as the Pack regained the lead at 3-2. Howell then connected for a two-run homer for the 5-2 lead. Howell is now hitting .423 on the season with nine runs scored, three hits, a triple, three homers and 13 RBI.
Stanford began its comeback with a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth to tie the game at 5-5. The Cardinal run in the fifth scored off an error by Howell at second. Jesse Kuet and Alex Dunlap singled off Michael Fain for the two Cardinal runs in the sixth. Fain, making his first relief appearance of the season after two starts, allowed three hits (both runs in the fifth were charged to Jo Jo Romero) and he also hit a batter and tossed a wild pitch. Fain now has a 6.23 earned run average through 8.2 innings (13 hits, five walks) this season.
Stanford, it seemed, had scoring opportunities in almost every inning and left 12 runners on base. The Pack left six.
Byler and Howell each had two of the Pack’s seven hits. Dunlap had three hits and Kuet, Branton and Winaker each had two for Stanford, which had 12 hits.
The Wolf Pack now trails 8-21 in its series with Stanford. Tuesday’s game was the first between the two schools since 2008. The Wolf Pack last beat the Cardinal in 2002 (13-12).
The Wolf Pack gets its chance to start a new winning streak starting on Friday at Peccole Park against Pacific (4 p.m.). Pacific is 0-8 this season after four losses at home to Washington and four at UNLV last weekend. The Tigers have been outscored 58-15 this season. The Pack once won 19 games in a row against Pacific (1992-97) and 31 of 33 (1988-97).