Terry Bernal/Daily Journal
Nevada-Reno junior Barry Timko improved his record to 3-1 at Municipal Stadium Saturday. The former Serra star worked into the seventh inning as the Wolf Pack won it 6-5.
SAN JOSE — One way or another, Barry Timko would have pitched Saturday at Municipal Stadium.
Currently the regular Saturday starter for University of Nevada-Reno, the San Bruno native had been looking forward all week to headlining the second game of a three game series at San Jose State.
When Friday’s game was postponed due to rain the series opener was rescheduled as part of a Saturday doubleheader with Timko taking the ball in the nightcap.
And as it turned out, Timko received some added incentive with a crazy play to end Game 1.
In Saturday’s doubleheader opener, Nevada junior Kewby Meyer was thrown out at home plate ending the game. Meyer tried to score the tying run from second base on an infield base hit that glanced off the glove of Spartans shortstop Alec de Watteville. But de Watteville recovered in time to gun down Meyer at the plate for the last out in the ninth, sealing a 2-1 win for San Jose State.
As a result, Nevada’s junior right-hander Jason Deitrich took the hard-luck loss despite firing his first complete game of the season.
“Dietrich threw awesome,” Timko said. “To lose like that, it’s rough. I kind of [said to myself] — we’ve got to win this (next) one. I’ve got to give my team a chance to win the series — and that was my mindset.”
Timko responded by dealing in Game 2, rolling through 6 1/3 innings while surrendering three runs (two earned) on four hits to earn the win, improving to 3-1 on the year.
“Those first six innings … it was among one of his best if not the best he’s thrown this year,” Nevada pitching coach Dave Lawn said. “And that’s really hard after a heartbreaking loss in the first [game] where we didn’t play very good. … So, we needed that with a guy to get ‘em out, get ‘em out, get ‘em out so we could score (runs).”
And the Wolf Pack responded, scoring early and often in support of Timko. Nevada scored twice in the first innings — Meyer fittingly plated the first run of the game — and single runs in the third and fourth. After San Jose State closed the margin to 4-2, Nevada added single runs in the seventh and eighth then rode closer Adam Whitt to his sixth save of the year to win it 6-5.
The outing was Timko’s second longest of the year, after he worked 7 1/3 innings in taking a no-decision March 15 at Hawaii.
“I actually did feel good from the start,” Timko said. “In the (pregame) bullpen I felt good. I was hitting my spots. And then in the game I was throwing well except for a few guys where I let them go. Then I had to battle back. But yeah, I felt pretty good today.”
Timko is accustomed to battling though. Like just about every starter on the Wolf Pack staff, the southpaw has been used frequently out of the bullpen as well. Big sophomore right-hander Michael Fein is the only pitcher on staff to be used exclusively as a starter this season.
With only five pitchers on staff with a sub-5.00 ERA — Timko’s is currently 3.82 — the first-year coaching staff, with new manager Jay Johnson at the helm, has relied on something of an all-hands-on-deck approach. But Timko’s ups and downs prior to the season had something to do with his versatile role as well.
“I actually had a pretty rough fall and coming into the season the coaches were talking to me saying [I’d] probably be in relief this year,” Timko said. “Then we had our spring intrasquads and come season they said [I was] going to start the season opener. And it was awesome just because I had improved so much from the fall to the start of the season.”
It was also awesome, not only because Timko earned the opening-day start but, because the Wolf Pack played their opening game at Santa Clara University. Timko worked 5 1/3 innings in the Feb. 14 opener to celebrate Valentine’s Day with his first win of the year.
He also earned a win against San Jose State March 2 with four innings of shutout relief in an 8-3 win at Nevada’s Peccole Park. Since then, Timko has been used exclusively as a starter. While he said that could change at any time, Timko prefers the starting rotation. He’s spent nearly his entire life as a starter after all, and as a standout at Serra even etched his name in the Padres’ record book by throwing a no-hitter against Carlmont in 2010.
And he’s fast made an impression on Nevada’s new coaching staff as well.
“[Johnson] just said in the powwow after the game (Saturday) that Barry Timko is our most improved guy in the program,” Lawn said.
Mercurio misses Timko matchup
San Jose State junior center fielder Andre Mercurio — who played along side Timko at Serra for four years — was unavailable to start Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader after being pulled from Game 1 due to injury.
Mercurio singled to start the game but jammed his right foot on the first-base bag in legging out the infield hit. He wasn’t immediately removed from the game, remaining in long enough to score the Spartans’ first run in an eventual 2-1 win. However, he was replaced on defense in the following inning by Kalei Contrades.
According to Spartans manager Dave Nakama, the injury is not serious and Mercurio is listed as day-to-day.