Rebels Defend Home Turf From First-Place Lobos|
May 6, 2016
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - The UNLV baseball team (21-24 overall, 11-11 Mountain West) knocked off the New Mexico Lobos (31-17, 16-6 MW) by a final score of 11-6 at Earl E. Wilson Stadium Friday night. The Rebels struck first with three runs in the second inning and added seven more in the third en route to their third straight victory.
The Lobos entered the three-game weekend series in first place in the MW while the Rebels were fourth.
The Scarlet & Gray’s Cooper Esmay led the team with a game- and season-high five RBI to go along with two runs and a pair of hits – a two-run triple and a three-run home run. Esmay was one of three to notch a multiple-hit effort, as Kyle Isbel scattered three hits and Andrew Yazdanbakhsh had two. UNLV also got one RBI apiece from six different players while three others (Austin Anderson, Corey Pool and Yazdanbakhsh) each scored twice.
UNLV got on the board first with help from Esmay’s three-base hit in the second off of UNM starter Colton Thomson (5-3). Yazdanbakhsh and Pool scored on the two-out triple after both reached safely via eight- and five-pitch walks. Esmay found his way back to the plate off an RBI single by Cody Howard.
UNM was able to shave one run off of its deficit in the top of the third with help from an RBI single by Jared Mang. Chris DeVito, the team’s top offensive threat, worked a one-out walk to get on base. Two batters later, Jack Zoellner hit a single that forced a hobbling DeVito to second base. Once play was stopped, the Lobos inserted Jacob Westerman into the game as a pinch runner for DeVito, and the newcomer scored from second off Mang’s hit.
The third inning saw the Rebels bat around, as 10 made their way to the plate and seven of those scored. Isbel and Anderson got things started with back-to-back doubles, the second of which resulted in an RBI. Moments after Payton Squier worked his way on base with a walk, Yazdanbakhsh laced an RBI single up the middle to plate one and put runners on the corners. Justin Jones brought Squier home with a sacrifice fly to center field. Pool followed the fly out with a single, but he and Yazdanbakhsh wound up in scoring position when Thomson uncorked a wild pitch. The UNM hurler managed to get that batter out; however, the next one – Esmay – ended his day on the mound with a three-run home run to left field.
The Lobos went to the bullpen after Esmay’s round tripper and brought Fernando Fernandez into the affair. The reliever quickly walked Howard on four pitches and then allowed him to take second off a wild pitch. Isbel brought Howard home with an RBI single through the left side to cap the scoring and claim a nine-run lead, 10-1, through three stanzas.
“To beat a quality team like UNM is a good start to the weekend,” said head coach Stan Stolte. “That being said, we did not pitch well, and to throw 211 pitches in a nine-inning game is hideous. We threw way too many pitches, especially with a decent lead. We had some great at-bats early and then we decided to take a few innings off. Coach Birmingham will have those guys ready to bounce back tomorrow, so we’ll hopefully answer the challenge.”
UNM outscored UNLV 5-1 between the fifth and ninth innings with some help from Zoellner and Mang, who both had three hits. The visitors from Albuquerque scored once in the fifth, sixth and seventh and twice in the ninth. In the fifth, Zoellner reached on a two-out double and scored off an RBI single by Mang. Two innings later, Mang led off with a triple and scored off a sacrifice fly. In the final frame, Zoellner singled after a solo homer by Carl Stajduhar and later touched home off another run-scoring single.
The Rebels’ 11th and final run came in the seventh and it came off a bases-loaded walk to A.J. VanMeetren. Fernandez was only able to throw one strike to Anderson and Squier to open the at-bat before Matt Villalobos, who gave up a single to Yazdanbakhsh and then walked VanMeetren, replaced him.
D.J. Myers (5-2) picked up the win for UNLV behind five innings of work. Myers struck out three against two runs, two walks and six hits. He gave way to Ryan Hare who threw 3.2 innings of relief and was touched for four runs (three earned) off of six hits and three walks. Blaze Bohall faced the final batter of the game and got a fly out.
Thomson was tagged with the loss after he lasted only 2.2 innings. He was roughed up for nine runs off of seven hits. He also walked three, but struck out two. His successor, Fernandez, gave up two runs in 3.1 innings of relief. Villalobos did not allow a run in his two innings on the mound.
The Scarlet & Gray continue the series and homestand Saturday against New Mexico. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 pm, and it’s a Smoken’ Saturday. The three-game set comes to a close Sunday at 12:05 pm.
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NOTES: Esmay’s five RBI are the most by a Rebel this season, and they are the most since Anderson had five versus Northwestern on March 21, 2015 … With the addition of his three-hit night, Isbel has 14 multiple-hit games with six of those going for three or more hits … UNLV improved to 4-13 in games with five or more runs of separation … UNLV improved to 3-0 when its offense scores 10 runs or more … UNLV improved to 6-10 when it holds the opposition to between 6-9 runs … UNLV improved to 15-7 in games that it scores first … UNLV improved to 6-20 in games that it is outhit by its opponent.