The Nevada Wolf Pack lost a baseball game Monday night at Les Murakami Stadium. More importantly, however, the Pack might have discovered a mainstay for its starting rotation.
Lefthander Tyler Wells, who has bounced back and forth between the bullpen and starting rotation this season, allowed just two hits and two baserunners Monday night in a 1-0 loss to Hawaii.
Unfortunately for the Wolf Pack, though, Hawaii starter Scott Kuzminsky was just as stingy as Wells. The righthander also allowed just two hits in tossing the first complete-game shutout of his career.
The only run of the game crossed the plate in the first inning. Stephen Ventimilia singled, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch with no outs. Kaeo Aliviado then hit Wells' ninth pitch of the game to second for a ground out as Ventimilia scored to give Hawaii a 1-0 lead.
That was the end of the scoring.
Wells turned in one of the best performances by a Wolf Pack starting pitcher in recent memory.
- It was the Wolf Pack's first complete-game two hitter since Mateo Miramontes allowed two hits in nine innings in a 5-1 win at San Jose State on March 15, 2003.
- It was the first time a Wolf Pack starter allowed two hits or fewer in at least eight innings since Tom Jameson allowed one hit in eight innings in a 3-1 victory over Louisiana Tech in the Western Athletic Conference tournament at Hawaii on May 27, 2010. Tyler Graham pitched the ninth inning that day for the save.
The game on Monday night was one of the best pitched games in Wolf Pack history. First of all, there were two complete games which, in itself, is a rarity in baseball now at any level, let alone college baseball. There were just five total baserunners, just four hits, one run and one walk. Both pitchers combined to face just one hitter over the minimum of 51 hitters in a 8 1/2-inning game. Kuzminsky faced the minimum of 27 in nine innings and Wells faced 25 hitters in eight innings. Only one baserunner -- Ventimilia in the first inning -- advanced past first base the entire game.
It was the Wolf Pack's first 1-0 loss since Hawaii (once again at Honolulu) turned the trick on May 1, 2010. It was also the first 1-0 game the Pack has been involved in since a 1-0 win over Fresno State on April 29, 2012 at Peccole Park.
It was also the first time the Wolf Pack had two or fewer hits in a game since a 2-1 loss at UC Santa Barbara on March 19, 2011 when Joe Kohan's double was the only Pack hit of the game.
Wells was masterful, at one point retiring 18 consecutive hitters.
The junior faced just 25 hitters, just one batter over the minimum for eight innings. After Ventimilia's single in the first inning, the only other baserunner Wells allowed was a single to Aliviado on the seventh. Aliviado was later thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning.
Kuzminsky faced the minimum 27 hitters through nine innings. The Pack had just three baserunners the entire game -- a walk to Austin Byler in the first inning and singles by Jordan Devencenzi in the fifth and Byler in the seventh. Byler was thrown out trying to steal second in the first and Devencenzi (in the fifth) and Byler (seventh) were retired on double plays.
Kuzminsky fanned three and walked one while Wells struck out eight and didn't walk a hitter. Kuzminsky threw 61 of his 92 pitches for strikes and Wells tossed 59 of his 90 pitches for strikes.
The game, which was played before a crowd of 2,494, lasted just 1:42.
Kuzminsky, from Puyallup, Wash., is in his second season with Hawaii. He appeared in 13 games last year out of the bullpen with a 0-0 record over 20.1 innings. He was inserted into the starting rotation this year and now is 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA over five starts. His best game before Monday was on Feb. 28 in a 6-1 win over Pepperdine when he allowed six hits and a run in seven innings.
Wells is now 0-3 this season with a 5.91 earned run average in eight appearances (four starts). He has struck out 20 and walked seven in 21.1 innings while allowing 27 hits.
The 6-foot-3 Wells, from Maxwell, Calif., is now in his third season at Nevada with a 7-14 career record in 31 starts.
Wells has struggled with his control throughout his Wolf Pack career, walking 72 over 144.1 innings his first two seasons. The lefthander, though, appears to be over that problem. He walked five in his first appearance of the season against Boston College on Feb. 15. Since then, over his last seven appearances, he has walked just two over 16.2 innings.
The loss on Monday night was the first complete game of his career. His longest outing before Monday was 7.1 innings in a 6-1 win against Air Force on March 16, 2013.
The Wolf Pack, now 9-11 this season, will open a three-game Mountain West series against Air Force on Friday (4 p.m.) at Peccole Park. The Pack and Falcons will also meet on Saturday ( 2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) at Peccole.