The Nevada Wolf Pack simply overwhelmed the San Diego State Aztecs Friday at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
The Pack pounded out 18 hits to clobber the Aztecs 14-3 in front of a crowd of just 642 to jump back into a first-place tie in the Mountain West with the Aztecs. The Pack is now 29-9 overall and 14-5 in league while San Diego State is 27-12, 14-5. New Mexico is in third (12-7 in conference) followed by Fresno State (9-6), Air Force (8-10), San Jose State (3-15) and UNLV (2-14). A victory on Saturday or Sunday in the final two games of this series will give the Pack the tiebreaker against San Diego State.
The Pack, which clobbered San Francisco 16-4 on Monday, has now earned back-to-back wins of 10 runs or more for the first time since it beat Fresno State 17-6 and 14-4 in a doubleheader on April 24, 2010. The Wolf Pack has now also scored 10 or more runs in five of its last nine Mountain West games. The victory on Friday was also just the second for the Pack in seven games at San Diego State since joining the Mountain West in 2013.
The Pack seemed to rattle the Aztecs right from the start. San Diego State committed four errors in the game, though all 14 Pack runs ended up becoming earned. The Aztecs have now committed four errors in two of their last three games and 27 in their last 15 games.
The Wolf Pack jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first against Aztecs starter Bubba Derby. Cal Stevenson singled and went to second on a wild pitch. Derby then walked Ryan Howell and was unable to make a play on Austin Byler’s bunt single as the Pack loaded the bases. Trenton Brooks then singled home two runs for the 2-0 lead.
The Wolf Pack added two more in the fourth off Derby for a 4-1 lead. A run-scoring double by Bryce Greager was the big hit in the inning.
Derby at one point struck out seven Pack hitters in a row. But the Aztecs’ starter lasted just 5.1 innings despite finishing with nine strikeouts. Derby threw 121 pitches and allowed nine hits and seven runs and suffered the loss to fall to 4-3. He does, however, have 89 strikeouts this season in just 63 innings this season. The Wolf Pack struck out 15 rimes on Friday.
When they did make contact, though, the result usually led to more runs.
The Pack broke the game open with a pair of five-run innings in the sixth and eighth. Stevenson had a two-run double and Howell had a two-run single in the sixth. In the eighth, Byler walked with the bases loaded, Brooks drove in a run with a double and Kewby Meyer had a RBI single.
Aztecs reliever Brett Seeburger allowed six hits and six runs in just 1.2 innings as his ERA ballooned to 6.84 on the year in 16 games.
The Wolf Pack definitely fattened up their stat sheet against the Aztecs.
Stevenson had three hits and scored three runs with two RBI and now leads the Pack with a .383 average. Howell had two RBI, three hits and scored two runs and is now hitting .359 with 50 RBI. Brooks had three hits and three RBI and is now hitting .353 with 42 RBI and Meyer had four hits to lift his average to .335.
All of the offense took the pressure off the pitching staff. Zach Wilkins, making his first start of the year, went 3.1 innings and allowed three hits and two runs (one earned). Cam Rowland got a pair of outs in the fourth and allowed an unearned run. Evan McMahan dominated the Aztecs, pitching five shutout innings and allowing just three hits and no walks while fanning six. McMahan, who now has a 1.72 ERA on the year in 13 appearances, earned the win to improve to 4-0.
The Pack has now won four consecutive games against the Aztecs. They swept San Diego State in a three-game series last April 11-13 at Peccole Park. The Wolf Pack now owns a 7-6 edge in 13 games played between the two schools since joining the Mountain West in 2013.