The Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team had to take the good with the bad on Saturday at Peccole Park.
The good was another solid outing by starting pitcher Tyler Wells and an offense that produced 13 runs and 14 hits in a 13-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader with the Northern Illinois Huskies. The bad was a bullpen that got roughed up once again in a 12-4 loss to the Huskies in the second game.
“We have to find someone to come out of the bullpen and do the job,” said coach Gary Powers, whose Wolf Pack is now 4-3 on the season. “But that’s what these games are for. We are going to find out who can do the job and then settle in on those guys.”
Wells pitched 5.2 shutout innings in the first game and now has not allowed a run in 11.2 innings this season over two starts.
“The difference is the mental side of things this year,” said Wells, who was 3-5 last year with a 6.42 earned run average and is 2-0 this year with a zero ERA. “I just wanted to come out mentally strong this year and not let things affect me as much.”
Wells, who underwent surgery on his left elbow after last season, fought through some wildness against the Huskies. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore walked seven -- at least one in every inning -- but survived without any damage because he allowed just two hits. He got Northern Illinois’ Alex Klonowski twice with two runners on each time to end threats in the first and fifth innings.
“I’ve been able to get out of jams so far because of our defense,” said Wells, who has walked nine in 11.2 innings this year.”
Wells, who beat Kansas, 2-1, in his first start, struck out four Huskies and threw 61 of his 109 pitches for strikes.
“He’s trusting his stuff more this year,” Powers said. “He’s been a little more consistent. He still has a ways to go. But there’s a lot of upside there and he’s taking steps in the right direction.”
The Wolf Pack offense gave Wells plenty of support.
Brad Gerig and Hugo Hernandez each drove in runs with singles in a three-run third inning as the Pack took a 3-0 lead. The Wolf Pack then broke the game open with five runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Gerig hit a solo homer in the seventh for a 4-0 lead. Austin Byler tripled and scored in the seventh and Jamison Rowe drove in a row with a triple of his own in the eighth.
Brooks Klein and Joe Setum also drove in runs with singles in the eighth and Shaun Mize had a RBI double as the Pack roughed up seven Huskies pitchers in the first game.
The victory in the first game extended the Wolf Pack’s winning streak to three and extended Northern Illinois’ losing streak to open the season to six.
Both streaks came to an end in the second game.
Northern Illinois jumped on Pack starter Tom Jameson for three runs on six hits in the top of the first to take their first lead of the series.
“They just got a few jam shots in that inning,” Jameson said. “Those hits just found the holes. It’s a credit to them but there’s not much you can do when that happens.”
Jameson, though, dominated the Huskies over his final five innings. The 6-foot-7 senior allowed no runs on just two hits over the next five innings and close out his six-inning performance on a high note.
“Tom kept us in position to win,” Powers said. “He stabilized the game and gave us a chance.”
Jameson also finished with seven strikeouts and no walks in his six innings. In his first start a week ago against Kansas he did not strike out a hitter over six innings.
“Everything was working for me,” said Jameson, whose career high for strikeouts is eight against Santa Barbara in 2011. “I was using all my pitches and they were all working well.”
The Wolf Pack battled back and trailed just 3-2 entering the seventh inning. Rowe drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth and Curtis Frisbee drove in a run in the sixth with a pinch-hit single.
“We were right back in the game and then we got our legs cut out from under us when we couldn’t hold them,” Powers said.
The Pack bullpen allowed nine runs on 11 hits over the final three innings in relief of Jameson and has now given up an alarming 32 hits and 22 earned runs in just 19.2 innings for an ERA of 10.06.
“If you want an opportunity to pitch, you have to do the job when you are given a chance,” Powers said. “We’ll find people who can do the job. You have to earn your opportunity.”
The Wolf Pack and Huskies will conclude this four-game series with a single game Sunday at 11 a.m.