A wild weekend series between the San Jose State Spartans and the Nevada Wolf Pack ended on a walk-off wild pitch as the Spartans topped the Wolf Pack 6-5 Sunday afternoon at Municipal Stadium.
Each of the three games between both teams were decided by one run in favor of SJSU, giving the Spartans (9-9 overall, 5-4 Mountain West) their first series sweep against an opponent since 2012.
“It’s a lot of fun,” first year head baseball coach Jason Hawkins said on the close game finishes against the Wolf Pack (5-15, 2-7 MW). “For them (the players) to get to do it - we talk about that all the time - when you get bonus innings there’s nothing better, especially when you come out on the right end of it.”
The sun on Sunday shined early and often, but just over four hours into the 1 p.m. first pitch, the clouds began settling in and the wind began to pick up as Nevada closer Evan McMahan’s (1-4) pitch breezed away from the catcher’s mitt and into the backstop - bringing in the winning run delivered by Corey Olivet in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Olivet was pinch running for junior outfielder Chris Williams, who finished 3-for-5, two runs and one RBI. One of Williams’ hits was a solo home run to tie the game at four apiece in the bottom of the eighth.
“I was just trying not to do too much,” Williams said after admitting he wasn’t feeling well physically. “Trying to do less sometimes is more… its been awhile since I’ve squared up a few baseballs but it feels good, and trying not to do too much kind of worked.”
Williams got things going in the bottom of the second in a scoreless game as his base hit led to a three-run on four hits (one error) advantage over the Wolf Pack.
Nevada responded to open up the third inning as SJSU pitcher Graham Gomez gave up three runs to set up a 3-3 game. Gomez finished with a career-high eight strikeouts through 4.2 innings, giving up five hits and a fourth run in the top of the fifth.
After Williams’ second home run of the season in the bottom of the eighth to make it 5-5, the Wolf Pack and the Spartans couldn’t get on the board as the duel went into extras behind SJSU reliever Zach Tanner, who gave up one hit, one run and two strikeouts in 3.2 innings. The run came in the top of the 10th with no outs, but closer Hilario Tovar (1-1) earned the win as he gave up no hits to keep the deficit at one.
“Zach Tanner and Hilario Tovar were just phenomenal out of the pen,” Hawkins said.
Down one run, designated hitter Josh Nashed lead off the inning with a solo homer to tie it up. Following Williams’ single, an error by Nevada and an intentional walk to Aaron Pleschner (3-for-4, one run, one RBI), the bases were left loaded for the Spartans.
With two outs, the pitch got away from MacMahan to set up the winning run by Olivet.
Nashed, who also pitched on Friday, finished 2-for-4, with one run and one RBI.
“Whenever you win a one-run game it brings you together as a team, and it just shows that we’re a team that grinds it out and we’re going to fight until the last out is made.
“We’ve been winning these close games and that’s what a good ballclub does,” Nashed said.
At .500 overall on the season, the Spartans will head on the road for the next week where they have struggled (0-6) as they’ll face University of Pacific (8-10) on Tuesday before a trip at Hawaii (11-8). SJSU will return home on March 29 in a crosstown showdown against Santa Clara (4-16) at 7 p.m. at Municipal Stadium.