Nevada 1B Austin Byler has lived up to his Preseason All-American honors so far. (Shotgun Spratling)


Byler, Howell Give Nevada Lethal Power Combo

SACRAMENTO — Head coach Jay Johnson was sitting at his desk last July in Nevada’s state-of-the-art Legacy Hall where the athletic offices are housed. Repeatedly, he clicked the refresh button on his browser, popping to various baseball news sites, looking for the latest information. Major League Baseball’s deadline for amateur draft picks to sign had come and gone, but it took a phone call to confirm that first baseman Austin Byler was returning to Reno for his senior season.

Johnson let out an excited yell that likely scared some of his Wolf Pack coaching counterparts in the building.

“He was so happy. It was awesome,” Byler said. “He was pumped up. He was like, ‘We’re going to do something special and I’m not going to let you down.'”

Even now when the name Austin Byler is mentioned around Johnson, you might notice the corners of Johnson’s mouth slowly start to grow farther apart. Johnson just can’t help but start to crack a smile whenever he hears someone talking about his star slugger.

Johnson has been smiling for the better part of the last eight months since Byler chose to forego professional baseball for one final season at UNR.


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