RENO, Nev. – It was a comeback victory for Nevada (5-0, 1-0) after senior Austin Byler came to the dish in the bottom of the 10th inning, and blasted a walk-off home run to erase a six-run deficit in front of a packed house (1,416), at Peccole Park’s debut in Mountain West action to defeat the Fresno State University Bulldogs 9-8 Friday night under the lights.
Nevada sits at 5-0 for the first time since 1994, as Byler took over eighth place on the Wolf Packs all-time home run list (30), adding four runs as well in the win.
Nevada, took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first frame following a walk with the bases loaded, however neither team would score over the next three innings.
Fresno State (3-2, 0-1), who came into the game sporting the MW’s best team batting average, put seven runs on the board in the fifth in a hurry thanks to a two-RBI base hit, followed by a run scored due to error, then a three-RBI double that left the Wolf Pack looking at what would be its largest deficit of the year 7-1.
Byler, however, grabbed one run back for the Pack as he scored on a wild pitch. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, junior Ryan Howell took the liberty of smacking a three-RBI triple to the wall that scored Byler and seniors Kewby Meyer, and Kyle Hunt.
The Bulldogs pushed a run across the plate in the top of the eighth to take an 8-5 lead in advance of sophomore Trenton Brooks tying the game at eight-all with a three-run homer on two outs. Brooks leads the MW in RBI this season with 12.
The heart of the lineup came up to bat for Nevada in the 10th inning, and that’s when Byler, with the score tied 8-8, went postal and sent the game winning home run over the fence in left-center on a 1-2 pitch with one out.
The Nevada dugout erupted into an all-out party.
Junior Michael Fain caught a no-decision. Juniors Alex Lott, Cameron Rowland and Zach Wilkins hurled in relief before opening the door to Whitt for the win. Whitt yielded two hits and no runs in 2.0 innings of work.
The Wolf Pack had seven hits from seven different batters despite the fact they took 11 bases on balls and two hit by pitches. Byler led Nevada with four runs scored, whereas Meyer and Hunt each added two runs.
Game two between the Wolf Pack and the Bulldogs will begin at 1 p.m. PT, Saturday at Peccole Park. The series finale will also begin at 1 p.m. Sunday. Both games will be streamed live online on the MW Network.