LUBBOCK, Texas -- Sophomore Trenton Brooks hit a grand slam and Nevada beat eighth-ranked Texas Tech 8-4 Tuesday at Rip Griffin Park. Brooks contributed towards six of the Wolf Pack’s eight runs with four RBI and three runs scored.
In a battle of unbeatens, the Wolf Pack trailed 3-1 after the second inning before scoring the game’s final seven runs to post one of the biggest non-conference wins in program history. Nevada downed a top-10 ranked opponent for the first time since topping No. 6 Rice on April 28, 2001. The Wolf Pack is 4-0 for the first time in 20 seasons (1995).
Senior Austin Byler hit his third home run of the season and Brooks’ first career grand slam propelled Nevada to a victory and perfect start to the 2015 season. Junior Sam Held earned the win in relief of senior Barry Timko. Nevada used seven pitchers to limit Texas Tech to just three runs after the Red Raiders scored 46 runs with a .392 batting average in its season-opening series against San Francisco.
“To come into this environment and have so many guys contribute says a lot about our players,” said second-year head coach Jay Johnson. “I’m very proud of all of our guys. This was a great team victory against a very good opponent.”
In Tech’s first at bat of the game, Stephen Smith hit a home run to give the Red Raiders an early edge. Timko got the next three outs consecutively before Nevada’s Ryan Howell homered over the left field wall to tie the game 1-1. Howell has Nevada’s top batting average (.533), slugging percentage (1.133) and on-base percentage (.600) in 2015.
Junior Quinn Carpenter hit a two-RBI homer in the bottom of the second, giving Tech a two-run advantage and Nevada its first multi-run deficit of the season.
The Wolf Pack showed resiliency to immediately respond, tying the game in the top of the third. Byler’s 29th career home run pulled Nevada within one and a wild pitch allowed Brooks to tie the game at three apiece. Byler leads the MW with three home runs.
Held, a junior college transfer from Delta College, entered the game with a two outs in the bottom of the third. The 6-foot-5 righty pitched 2.1 innings, allowing one hit and no runs while striking out two batters to tally his first Division I victory.
After both teams went scoreless through the fourth frame, Nevada took its first lead in the fifth. Senior catcher Jordan Devencenzi drove in Brooks with a two-out RBI single, handing Nevada a 4-3 lead. Senior Kewby Meyer doubled, Byler walked and Howell reached by a HBP to load the bases in the top of the sixth frame.
On a 2-1 count, Brooks hit a firecracker over the right field wall to clear the bases, handing Nevada an 8-3 lead on his first career grand slam. Meyer, a 2014 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America selection, is batting .286 this year with a team-best nine RBI.
Nevada used Timko (2.1 IP), Held (2.1 IP), sophomore Evan McMahan (1.0 IP), junior Cameron Rowland (1.2 IP), Brooks (0.1 IP) and junior Adam Whitt (0.2 IP) to stifle one of the nation’s most potent hitting lineups. Junior Eric Gutierrez went 0-of-2 at the plate after hitting .750 (9-of-12) with seven runs against USF, being named the NCBWA’s national Hitter of the Week.
The Wolf Pack escaped a bases loaded situation in the bottom of the fifth without allowing a run. The Red Raiders juiced the bases in the bottom of the ninth and scored one run on Whitt, pulling within 8-4. The Carson City, Nev., tallied a strikeout to get the first out of the inning before swapping places with Brooks in the outfield. Brooks, who pitched 28 innings last season, got a crucial second out before assistant coach Dave Lawn brought Whitt back to the mound.
Facing designated hitter Landon Darwin on a 2-2 count, Whitt struck Darwin out swinging to clinch the upset. Whitt tallies his third save of the season, bringing his career total to 11.