Rebels Rally Past Bulldogs, Open Conference Play With A Win|
March 2, 2018
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - The UNLV baseball team rallied from a three-run deficit to knock off the Fresno State Bulldogs, 7-6, Friday night in the Mountain West opener for both teams at Earl E. Wilson Stadium. The Bulldogs (8-3, 0-1 MW) opened the affair with three runs in their first at-bat; however, the Rebels (9-1, 1-0 MW) erupted for six runs in the third and one more in the fourth to win their sixth straight contest.
The Rebel offense started to warm up in the second when a single by Nick Rodriguez and a pair of walks loaded the bases. Unfortunately, the team did not score in the frame, but they pushed plenty across the plate in the third. Kyle Isbel put the first run on the scoreboard when he drilled an RBI single through the middle of the infield. Two batters later, Nick Ames put UNLV ahead, 4-3, with a three-run, opposite field home run. Jack-Thomas Wold capped the scoring when he knocked in a run with a fielder's choice. Rodriguez upped the lead to four runs, 7-3, with a one-out solo homer in the fourth.
FS scored three times in the first off four hits, but was later silenced until the seventh inning by UNLV starter Alan Strong (2-0), who struck out six en route to the win. Strong limited the Bulldogs' offense to three hits from the second through sixth, but was touched for one run in the seventh -- off a double-play ground ball.
Bryan Menendez entered the contest in relief of Strong in the bottom of the eighth with one runner in scoring position and quickly got a fly out to end the frame. The Bulldogs were able to score twice off Menendez in the ninth, but managed to earn his second save of the season when he got a 4-3 putout to close it out.
The Bulldogs' Ryan Jensen (0-1) suffered the defeat after he was roughed up for six runs off of four hits and five walks.
THE TURNING POINT: In the third inning, Jensen came out of the dugout unable to find the strike zone; he walked the first batter he faced and hit the next one. After giving up a run-scoring single, he walked another before dishing up a three-run homer to Ames and then a double to Smith. A wild pitch on ball four to Grant Robbins allowed Smith to move 90 feet closer to home before he eventually scored.
REBEL OF THE GAME: Strong went 7.2 innings for the win and struck out six without any walks. More impressively, he threw a total of 95 pitches with 73 of those strikes.
QUOTABLE: "It took a good effort to win this game," said head coach Stan Stolte. "It could have gone the other way quick with the conditions the way they were. We played a clean game defensively and Alan (Strong) did a great job pounding the strike zone. It's going to be a three-day dogfight just like we expected when playing a quality opponent like Fresno State. The double play ball in the top of the seventh by (Dillon) Johnson to (Nick) Rodriguez changed the momentum of the game back to us at a crucial time.
STAT OF THE GAME: UNLV's 1-6 batters scored at least once in the game, while cleanup hitter Nick Rodriguez had two runs.
STAT OF THE GAME, PART DEUX: UNLV's 3-6 batters notched all six hits in the game, with three of those coming off Nick Rodriguez's bat.
UP NEXT: UNLV and FS return to Earl E. for game two of their series Saturday with first pitch slated for 2:05 pm. The conference set concludes Sunday at 1:05 pm.
PROMOTIONAL ITEMS OF INTEREST: This weekend's UNLV-Fresno State series has been billed as the "Staff Appreciation Series." UNLV faculty and staff will receive two (2) free tickets to any of this weekend's games when they show their official Rebel Card/UNLV I.D. at the Earl E. Wilson Stadium box office.
SEASON TICKETS: UNLV still has 21 home games remaining to be played at Earl E. Wilson Stadium and fans can purchase their 2018 Rebel baseball season tickets online at UNLVTickets.com or by calling 702-739-FANS (3267). Season tickets are $90 for adults (13 and older), while seniors (62-plus), faculty and staff, and alumni are $75.
SINGLE-GAME TICKETS: Fans can purchase single-game tickets online and in-advance for only $5; however, they must be purchased through UNLVTickets.com three hours prior to first pitch. Single-game tickets are priced at $8 for adults, $6 for senior/faculty/staff and $4 for groups of 15 or more. As always, UNLV students (with Rebel Card) and kids 12 and under are always free.