RENO - Garrett Yrigoyen and the Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team used the power of positive thinking Saturday afternoon at Peccole Park.
"It's like I keep telling our guys," Wolf Pack coach Gary Powers said. "You can't keep feeling sorry for yourself. Garrett Yrigoyen could have felt that way because he wasn't having a good day up to that last at-bat. But he didn't. I want everyone to understand that."
Yrigoyen turned a frustrating day for himself and his teammates into a reason to celebrate with one swing, drilling a game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Wolf Pack stunned the Seattle Redhawks 11-10, in front of a crowd of 549.
The Pack, which trailed 10-3 in the eighth inning, scored six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for the thrilling walk-off victory.
"We had a lot of good at-bats in that last inning," Powers said. "When you score six runs like that it's not all because of one guy."
Singles by Waylen Sing Chow and Michael Turay started the Pack comeback in the ninth inning.
Tommy Niebergal then reached base on a Seattle error to load the bases with no outs against Seattle reliever Bryan Dalton. Dalton fanned Nick Melino for the first out but Joe Kohan brought the Pack within a run with a grand slam, cutting the Seattle lead to just 10-9.
Kohan's dramatic home run is the Wolf Pack's first grand slam since Carlos Escobar hit one against Louisiana Tech at Peccole Park on May 22, 2010.
The Pack, though, wasn't finished.
Dalton walked Brock Stassi put the potential tying run on base. Dalton, who fanned Yrigoyen and Curtis Frisbie with two runners on base to end the eighth inning, then got Brian Barnett to fly out to right field for the second out.
Yrigoyen then stepped up to the plate. The junior third baseman had been battling through a frustrating afternoon leading up to his final at-bat. He was 0-for-4 after striking out with the bases loaded in the sixth and with two runners on base in the eighth.
Yrigoyen also walked to the plate in the ninth inning with the weight of a frustrating two weeks on his shoulders. He had just five hits in his last 40 at-bats dating back to March 19 when he stepped in the batter's box against Dalton.
Yrigoyen, who had not hit a home run since he connected against San Jose State on May 20, 2010, then sent Dalton's second pitch over the left field fence for the victory.
"It was a frustrating game but a good one to win," said Powers, whose Wolf Pack is now 9-17 on the year. "We've been struggling for a while now."
Powers was pleased with the approach of his hitters in the ninth inning. Kohan hit a 2-0 pitch and Yrigoyen jumped on a 1-0 offering from Dalton for the home runs. Both Sing Chow and Turay hit 2-2 pitches for their singles to start the rally.
"We got a good effort from a lot of guys in that inning," Powers said. "And we showed a lot of patience at the plate. We had a lot of nice team at-bats in that inning when earlier in the game we didn't get that."
The Wolf Pack benefited all game long from some wildness by the Seattle pitching staff. Six Redhawk pitchers combined to hit six Pack hitters and walk seven. The Wolf Pack, despite the victory, left 13 runners on base.
"We left eight guys on base in the first four innings," Powers said. "We feel very fortunate to win this game because of that."
Seattle, which rallied from a 7-3 deficit to beat the Pack 8-7 on Friday, took a 5-1 lead after three innings against Pack starter Mark Joukoff. The Redhawks, now 12-13, also scored three times in the eighth on Saturday off Pack reliever Jayson McClaren to take a seemingly comfortable 10-3 advantage.
The Redhawks' lack of control on the mound, though, began to pay dividends for the Wolf Pack in the bottom of the eighth inning as three walks and a hit by pitch led to two Nevada runs.
The Pack and Redhawks will conclude their three-game series on Sunday (11 a.m.).
"It was a frustrating game but we overcame it," Powers said, summing up the afternoon. "That's what is important."