Rebels Lose Slugfest In The Rockies Friday|
April 7, 2017
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (UNLVRebels.com) - The UNLV baseball team (11-21, 5-8 Mountain West) notched nine runs off of 16 hits Friday, but that offensive production came too late in a 23-9 loss to the Air Force Falcons (13-15, 3-10 MW) Friday at Falcon Field. The Rebels, who trailed 12-0 after six innings, scored seven of their runs in the seventh and two more in the ninth.
The Scarlet & Gray was paced by three-hit efforts from Michael Macove, Payton Squier and Nick Rodriguez while Kyle Isbel and Cody Howard scattered two apiece. Cooper Esmay and Macove led the squad with three and two RBI, respectively. Howard and Austin Anderson were the only Rebels to score twice in the affair.
The Rebels, who had four hits through six innings, got going in the seventh and were able to scatter five hits for seven runs to cut into their 12-run deficit. Esmay led off with a walk and was quickly joined on the bases by Cody Howard and Austin Anderson who had singled and walked, respectively. After a pitching change by the Falcons, Macove and Rodriguez connected on back-to-back RBI singles while Keyon Allen brought home another run off a sacrifice fly. Moments after another reliever was summoned from the Air Force bullpen, Squier hit an RBI single to right-center for another run. Esmay came back up a bit later after a walk to Ernie De La Trinidad, a pitching change and a strikeout, to drill a bases-clearing, three-run double to the outfield wall.
Unfortunately, the Falcons’ offense was able to rattle off three runs in its half of the seventh as well as eight more in the eighth to increase the differential to 16 runs.
UNLV pushed two runs across in the ninth with help from three straight hits. Howard stepped up with two outs and hit a double to right-center, which was followed by an RBI double from Anderson and an RBI single from Macove.
“Like we’ve said all year, if our starting pitcher can’t get past the early innings, we are putting ourselves in a very vulnerable position with our pitching depth being where it’s at,” said head coach Stan Stolte. “Especially, at this place, which is arguably the most offense friendly park in the country and against a very good offensive team. We had some kids come off the bench and perform well offensively and that was about the only positive take away from today’s game.”
The Rebels found themselves in an early 1-0 hole after the first inning when Tyler Zabojnik hit an RBI double down the right-field line off of UNLV starter Alan Strong (3-3). The run-scoring hit came after Adam Groesbeck and Tyler Jones had reached via a leadoff single and a one-out hit-by-pitch.
The Falcons added to their lead in the second with four runs of four hits. Groesbeck and Zabojnik factored in the scoring, once more, as the duo both connected on one-run doubles. Jones mixed a sacrifice fly in between the doubles while Nic Ready capped the scoring with an RBI single.
The disparity grew to nine after three frames of play after Groesbeck hit an RBI double and Bradley Haslam smashed a three-run home run.
Air Force scored one run in each of the fourth (Rob Dau sac fly), fifth (Zabojnik RBI double) and sixth (Groesbeck RBI double) to extend its edge to 12.
In all, Groesbeck went 6-for-7 at the plate with four doubles to go along with four RBI and four runs. Zabojnik and Ready scattered four hits apiece while the former added three RBI and two runs to the latter’s two RBI and three runs.
Air Force’s Jacob DeVries (3-2) picked up the win in 6.0 innings of work. DeVries struck out seven, but allowed three runs off of five hits and two walks.
Strong, on the other hand, gave up nine runs off of nine hits en route to the loss in 3.0 innings.
The Rebels and Falcons return to the diamond Saturday for the second game of the MW series with first pitch scheduled for 1:00 pm MT (12:00 pm PT). The series finale is set for Sunday at 1:00 pm MT (12:00 pm PT). Both affairs will be streamed live and free of charge via the Mountain West Network.
UNLV will take one more trip to Phoenix to face Arizona State (Tuesday, April 11) before it returns to Las Vegas for a Conference series against San Diego State (April 13-15).