Thanks to a three-home run fifth inning, the Nevada Wolf Pack (30-25) avoided elimination at the Mountain West Championships Friday afternoon, taking down the San Diego State Aztecs (32-25) by a score of 6-4. With the victory, Nevada reached 30 wins for the first time since the 2016 season.
The Pack put on a balanced show at Peccole Park, tallying 10 hits, five strikeouts and three double plays as a team. Junior Daniel Perry was the star of the Nevada offense, tallying four hits, two RBI and scoring two runs on the day. The Wolf Pack hit three home runs in consecutive hits from junior Jaylon McLaughlin, Perry and senior Keaton Smith leaving the yard in the fifth. The Wolf Pack bullpen combo of Junior Grant Ford and senior Dalton Gomez held the Aztecs scoreless for the final 5.1 innings, allowing just one hit over the span.
San Diego State locked onto the freshman Owen Sharts quickly, tallying two runs in the bottom of the first via an RBI single from Casey Schmitt, who would later come in to pitch. The Wolf Pack struck in the top of the third thanks to a leadoff double from Perry, the first of four hits for the junior. Smith moved Perry to third with a sac bunt, and was called safe at home after an error. Junior catcher Marco Valenzuela was the one to bring Perry home with a ground ball.
With SDSU taking a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth, the Wolf Pack found themselves trailing and with a new pitcher on the mound in senior Dalton Gomez.
With one out on the board in the top of the fifth, McLaughlin stepped up the plate. The centerfielder took advantage of the wind blowing to the outfield, getting a hold of the ball and sending it over the wall in right center field for the first solo shot of the game. Feeling the momentum from the shot, and looking to continue his hot day, Perry followed up with an absolute no doubter to left field. Smith didn’t want to be left out of the fun, hitting the third-consecutive home run of the inning over the wall in left field. When all was said and done, the offensive explosion had things tied up 4-4.
The bullpen combo of Gomez and Ford proceeded to shut out the Aztecs over 5.1 innings, combining for three strikeouts and just one hit allowed. Despite walking five, a staunch defensive performance behind Gomez tallied three double plays to keep the Aztecs off the board.
The deciding runs came across for the Wolf Pack in the sixth thanks to two more RBI from McLaughlin and Perry, claiming the 6-4 win.