Someone forgot to tell the Nevada Wolf Pack’s bats that the season started on Friday.
The Wolf Pack opened its 2016 season at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., by scoring three runs in 18 innings, losing a doubleheader to the Northwestern Wildcats 4-2 and 5-1. The Wolf Pack had just one brief lead (1-0 in the top of the first inning of the second game) all day in falling to 0-2 to start a season for the first time since 2011.
The Pack, which finished 41-15 a year ago, didn’t lose its second game of the year in 2015 until its 14th game (12-2). The Wolf Pack opened last season with seven consecutive victories. Northwestern, which finished 18-36 last year, is 2-0 for the first time since 2008. The Wildcats of the Big Ten started last year 0-6 and 1-9.
The Wolf Pack’s lone lead of the long day came on a solo home run by Trenton Brooks in the top of the first inning of Game 2. But even that inning was an example of the Pack’s frustrations on Friday. The Wolf Pack had four hits in the inning — singles by Justin Bridgman, Jordan Pearce and Bryce Greager accompanied Brooks’ homer — and could score but just one run. Greager was thrown out at third on Pearce’s single to end the inning.
The Wolf Pack hit into three double plays in the second game, in the fourth, seventh and ninth innings, and still left 10 runners on base. Bridgman had a single and walked twice and Kaleb Foster had two hits as the Pack had eight hits off seven Northwestern pitchers in the second game.
The Wolf Pack knocked out Wildcats starter Reed Mason in the second game in the second inning. The Pack loaded the bases against Mason with just one out as Tommy Bordignon came on in relief of Mason. Bordignon, who had a 9.13 earned run average in 18 appearances last year, then fanned T.J. Freidl and Bridgman to end the threat. Northwestern quickly wiped out the Pack’s 1-0 lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run single by Antonio Freschet.
The Wildcats then extended its lead to 3-1 in the third on a RBI double by Matt Hopfner. The Wildcats also scored a run in both the seventh and eight innings off Pack relievers Sam Held and Taylor Miller. Jack Dunn single and later scored in the seventh on a wild pitch and Connor Lind’s sacrifice fly made the score 5-1 in the eighth. The Wolf Pack offense showed some life in the ninth inning, loading the bases on a single by Foster, a double by Miles Mastrobuoni and a walk to Freidl. But Hopfner came on in relief to get Bridgman to ground into a game-ending double play.
Brooks started for the Wolf Pack in the second game and lasted five innings, allowing six hits and three runs. Brooks also struck out six and didn’t walk a hitter.
Bordignon earned the victory in the second game, going 4.1 innings and not allowing a hit or a run while striking out six.
The first game was similar to the second game. The Wolf Pack was held to seven hits by three Northwestern pitchers as the Wildcats took a 4-2 victory in the opener. The Wolf Pack fell behind 4-0 after seven innings before scoring a run in the eighth and ninth innings.
Christian Stolo went six innings for the Wolf Pack and took the loss. The 6-foot left-hander allowed seven hits and two runs while striking out five and walking two. The Wildcats scored a pair of runs in the first inning on singles by Joe Hoscheit, Jake Scheiber, Jack Claeys and Lind before Stolo settled down. Stolo allowed the Wildcats (1-0) just three hits and no runs from the second through the sixth inning.
Hoscheit, though, drilled a two-run home run in the seventh off Pack reliever Evan McMahan to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead. Ty Pennington pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the Pack.
The Wolf Pack scored a run in the eighth on a ground out by Grant Fennell. Cole Krzmarzick walked and scored in the inning. Pearce doubled and scored on a single by Bridgman in the ninth for the Wolf Pack’s other run.
Northwestern starter Joe Schindler allowed three hits and no runs over five innings to pick up the victory. Schindler, a 6-1, right-hander, also fanned six and didn’t walk a hitter. Jake Stolley pitched 2.2 innings in relief and allowed a run while Pete Hoffman allowed a run over 1.1 innings for the Wildcats.
The Wolf Pack did waste a couple scoring opportunities early in the game. Bridgman singled and Brandon Evans was hit by a pitch in the third but the rally ended when Schindler fanned Fennell. Brooks and Greager both singled and Pearce advanced both runners with a bunt to open the fourth. Schindler, though, wiggled out of trouble by striking out Justin Hazard and getting Bridgman to fly out to left.
The doubleheader was the coaching debuts of both Nevada’s T.J. Bruce and Northwestern’s Spencer Adams.
The Wildcats and Wolf Pack will continue their four-game series with single games on Saturday and Sunday.