History not on Nevada baseball's side at the Mountain West Tournament

Jaylon McLaughlin
Jaylon McLaughlin and the Wolf Pack are the No. 4 seed in the Mountain West Tournament. (John Byrne/Nevada athletics)

Nevada's chief rival over the years has been UNLV. But when it comes to Wolf Pack baseball, one of its top foes has been the conference tournament.

Nevada has participated in 16 conference tournaments in its baseball history. It has yet to win one. The Wolf Pack looks to reverse that history this week when it hosts the Mountain West Tournament.

Here's a look at some facts and figures heading into this year's tournament, which begins Thursday at Don Weir Field as No. 4-seeded Nevada battles No. 1 seed Fresno State at 6:30 p.m.

* Nevada hasn't won a conference tournament in its history, which includes seven WAC tournaments, six MW tournaments and three Big West tournaments.

* Nevada is 23-32 all-time in conference tournaments and has reached the conference tournament title game just three times (2007 WAC, 2008 WAC, 2016 MW).

* This week's event marks only the third time Peccole Park has hosted a conference tournament; Nevada also did so in 2007 and 2015.

* San Diego State has owned this event, winning it five of the last six seasons, including a couple of miracle runs out of the losers bracket. The only time SDSU has not won the event since 2013 was when New Mexico took the crown in 2016.

* Home-field advantage has not been much of an edge in the event. Only two of the last 10 hosts – SDSU in 2018 and New Mexico in 2016 – have won the conference tournament. In total, only five of the 19 conference tournament winners were hosts.

* The No. 1 seed has won the tournament eight times, the No. 2 seed five times, the No. 3 seed four times and the No. 6 seed twice. Nevada enters as the No. 4 seed, a seed that has never won this event. The tournament shifted to a truncated four-team event in 2017 rather than a full field. The No. 2 seed has won this event four straight times. The No. 1 seed hasn't won since 2012 when New Mexico did so.

* Nevada is looking for its first NCAA Regional berth since 2000. That's the second-longest drought of the seven teams in the conference behind only Air Force, which last made a Regional in 1969. Since 2000, San Diego State has appeared in six Regionals (last in 2018); Fresno State seven Regionals (last in 2012); New Mexico four Regionals (last in 2016); UNLV four Regionals (last in 2014); and San Jose State one Regional (last in 2002).

* The Wolf Pack is 8-12 all-time in the MW Tournament, including a 4-6 mark under coach T.J. Bruce. Nevada has lost five straight MW Tournament games, being two-and-out in each of the last two events.

Bruce has plenty of experience in Regional settings, serving on UCLA's staff when it made four NCAA Tournaments, including two College World Series berths, the 2013 run ending in a national title. He said the key to Regional play, which this year's tournament essentially is because of its four-team format, is staying in the moment.

"I think the key is staying present," Bruce said. "I really do. I was talking to a good friend this morning and the key is just staying present. As the late Ken Ravizza used to always talk about, you're going to take blows, you're going to give blows and it's all about your response and the other part is how present can you stay. You can go down 5-0 in the first or go up 5-0 in the first and there are eight other innings to play. If we can stay present and minimize the nine-inning game and stay an inning at a time and minimize that into a pitch at a time, that's how the team is going to win this tournament."

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