Not much went right for the Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team on Tuesday afternoon.
The Wolf Pack fell to the St. Mary’s Gaels, 9-3, at Peccole Park for its fourth consecutive loss. The Pack, now 4-12, is off to its worst start after 16 games since the 1977 team started 3-13.
“We’re just not very good right now,” said Pack coach Gary Powers who took over the program in 1983.
St. Mary’s, now 5-11, set a season high for runs scored against the Pack. The Gaels of the West Coast Conference had scored just 32 runs in its first 16 games and had scored more than three runs in a game just once all season (seven at UC Irvine on March 5).
St. Mary’s, though, jumped all over Pack starting pitcher Tim Culligan for four runs in the top of the first inning. Culligan, though, might have been suffering from a lack of activity recently having pitched just one-third of an inning since March 8.
“Our starting pitcher really struggled,” Powers said.
The first five Gaels hitters all hit safely off Culligan. Culligan, a 6-foot-2, junior, lasted just one inning and gave up five runs on eight hits. The right-hander, though, might have been suffering from a lack of activity having pitched just one-third of an inning since March 8.
“He didn’t have the stuff I’ve seen him have before,” Powers said.
The Pack cut St. Mary’s lead to 5-1 in the fourth inning as Brian Barnett singled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Escobar. Escobar doubled and scored on a single by Braden Shipley in the sixth to slice the Gaels’ lead to 7-2 and back-to-back doubles by Brock Stassi and Nick Melino in the seventh cut the Gaels’ lead to 8-3.
But that was as close as the Pack would get the rest of the way. St. Mary’s roughed up six Pack pitchers for 13 hits. The Pack got eight hits off six St. Mary’s pitchers and left 11 runners on base.
“The thing I’m concerned about is we struck out 10 times and eight of them were looking,” said Powers, whose offense has scored just seven runs combined in its latest four-game losing streak.
“There’s a hesitancy there,” said Powers, who has watched his team strike out 29 times combined over its last three games. “Whether it’s a fear of failure, I don’t know. It’s a concentration and a focus. We have guys taking fastballs right down the middle and swinging at curveballs in the dirt.”
St. Mary’s reliever Dorsey Ek fanned five in just 2.1 innings.
“It’s a matter of (Pack hitters) going to the plate and sticking with the game plan,” Powers said. “When you start to struggle like we are, you go up there and change the game plan. And that’s when you end up taking strikes. You’ll get a pitch to hit every at-bat. But you just have to be prepared for it.”
The Wolf Pack will now head to Washington for three games starting on Friday. The Pack will also play a game at Seattle on Monday before returning home to Peccole Park to open an eight-game home stand on April 1 against Utah Valley.
“We have our work cut out for us,” Powers said. “Now, the challenge for our team is, ’How bad do you want to compete every game?’ We need to figure that out.”