It will be a while before the Nevada Wolf Pack forgets what happened at Anteater Ballpark on Saturday.
The Wolf Pack had a five run lead with six outs to go and a three-run lead with one out to go but saw the UC Irvine Anteaters rally to hand them a devastating 8-7 loss in 10 innings in front of a crowd of 538. Irvine scored six runs in the final three innings after the Wolf Pack built a 7-2 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth.
Irvine trailed 7-4 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on first. Keston Hiura singled and Mitchell Holland walked off Pack reliever Evan McMahan to load the bases. Ty Pennington relieved McMahan and promptly allowed a RBI single by Jonathan Munoz and a game-tying two-run single by Cole Krueter. The Anteaters nearly won the game in the bottom of the ninth but Pack reliever Cam Rowland got Grant Palmer to ground out with runners on second and third to end the inning.
The Anteaters, now 4-3, won the game in the 10th off Rowland on a RBI single by pinch-hitter Alex Guenette with two outs. Rowland hit Adam Alcantara to lead off the inning and then walked Evan Cassolatto with one out. The Pack then walked Hiura intentionally to load the bases but Guenette won the game moments later with a single.
Hiura was 4-for-4 with three runs scored and a RBI while Krueter was 3-for-5 with three RBI for the Anteaters. Irvine had 15 hits off six Wolf Pack pitchers but also left an alarming total of 21 runners on base. The Pack pitchers combined to walk 11 hitters.
The Wolf Pack dominated the first 7 1/2 innings, building a 7-2 lead.
T.J. Freidl’s two-run single gave the Wolf Pack a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. The Pack stretched its lead to 4-1 in the second as Grant Fennell tripled and scored and Bryce Greager brought in a run with a sacrifice fly. Keaton Smith doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Justin Hazard as the Pack upped its lead to 5-1 in the third inning. The final two Pack runs came home in the eighth as Justin Bridgman scored Hazard and Fennell with a two-run double.
Mark Nowaczewski started for the Wolf Pack and lasted three innings, allowing five hits, three walks and two runs. Zack Wilkins pitched 1.2 shutout innings in relief but Trevor Charpie and McMahan allowed the five Anteater runs in the eighth and ninth that sent the game into extra innings.
The Anteaters used eight pitchers. Ben Richey pitched a shutout inning in the 10th to pick up his first victory (1-0) of the year.
The loss is the Pack’s first in extra innings since a 3-2 loss to San Diego State in 10 innings in the Mountain West Tournament on May 24, 2014. The Pack was 5-0 in extra innings last year. This is also the first time the Pack has blown a lead of at least five runs in the final two innings since a 9-8 loss at San Diego on April 20, 2015. The Pack had an 8-2 lead in the eighth in that game and saw San Diego score six in the eighth to tie it and one in the ninth to win it.
The Wolf Pack is now 3-4 this season. They didn’t lose their fourth game last year until the 17th game of the year.