Baseball: Wolf Pack tops La. Tech
April 17, 2012
Alex Williams was the object of the Nevada Wolf Pack’s attention this weekend at Peccole Park.
“Each week we pick out the best hitter on the team we’re going to play and we make sure that guy doesn’t beat us,” Wolf Pack relief pitcher Matt Gardner said.
The hitter with the bull’s-eye on his bat with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs is definitely the 6-foot-6, 265-pound left-handed hitting Williams.
“He’s their go-to guy,” Wolf Pack coach Gary Powers said. “And we didn’t let him hurt us.”
Williams came to Peccole Park this weekend with 43 hits, 33 RBI and a Western Athletic Conference-leading nine home runs. And after Gardner fanned him on three pitches to close out the Wolf Pack’s 4-3 victory on Sunday, the big, left-handed slugger left Peccole Park with those same 43 hits, 33 RBI and nine home runs.
“He didn’t get a hit, did he?” smiled Gardner. “We did a phenomenal job on him.”
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Williams went 0-for-10 in the three games as the Wolf Pack swept the series, holding the Bulldogs to just nine total runs. The Pack is now 19-16 overall and 4-2 in the WAC while the Bulldogs fell to 17-19, 1-5.
“We didn’t pitch around him,” said Powers of Williams. “We just did a great job of pitching to him.”
The Pack had a definite game plan against Williams.
“We just threw soft stuff away and tried to bust him with hard stuff in close,” said Pack starting pitcher Tom Jameson, who went 6.1 innings and allowed eight hits and three runs (two earned). “We made sure he didn’t beat us.”
Williams fanned three times, walked twice and was hit by a pitch twice in the three games. It was also fitting that it was Williams who stood at the plate in the ninth inning on Sunday as the potential go-ahead run with two outs.
“That’s the guy they want up there in that situation,” said Gardner, who allowed a one-out single in the ninth to Sam Alvis.
Gardner didn’t give an inch to Williams, tossing him three consecutive changeups. Williams swung and missed at the first one, looked at the second one and then took a mighty cut at the third and missed to end the series.
“They were down one with a runner on base,” Gardner said. “And they had their big guy up. I just threw him three changeups in a row.”
Williams’ lost weekend actually prolongs a tough six weeks for the big first baseman. Since March 3, Williams has hit just .196 (18-for-92) with just three homers and 12 RBI over his last 24 games.
“To be honest, I really don’t care who is up there,” said Gardner, who recorded his ninth save of the season. “For me, it’s all about executing my pitches. If I do that, I don’t care who is up there.”
Jameson and the Wolf Pack fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning as Bre’Shon Kimbell doubled home a run and a throwing error by catcher Carlos Escobar gave the Bulldogs an unearned run.
“We didn’t help him out early in the game,” said Powers of Jameson. “We weren’t making plays for him. He probably should have had a shutout going.”
The Pack, though, tied the game at 2-2 in the second inning as second baseman Kyle Hunt drilled a two-run double, scoring Kewby Meyer and Escobar with one out.
Jameson walked the first two Bulldog hitters in the third, leading to a run. But the 6-foot-7 right-hander didn’t allow a run over his final 3.2 innings.
“I had all of my pitches working,” Jameson said.
“He had to battle through some things today,” Powers said. “And he did a real nice job getting through that.”
The Pack tied the game at 3-3 and took its first lead (4-3) with two runs in the eighth. Jay Anderson beat out a potential inning-ending double play ball to the second baseman, allowing Garrett Yrigoyen to score from third to tie the game.
And Louisiana Tech third baseman Beau Bayliss threw the ball away on what should have been an inning-ending groundout by Escobar, allowing Austin Byler to score the go-ahead run.
“We had to fight for this one,” Powers said.
The series sweep is the Pack’s first since they swept New Mexico State in four games on April 21-23, 2011.
“This is absolutely huge for us,” Jameson said. “Getting a sweep is awesome.”
The Pack is now 8-8 in one-run games after beating the Bulldogs 3-2 on Friday and 4-3 on Sunday.
“Playing all those one-run games this year has helped us,” Jameson said. “We learned from them and things are starting to go our way.”