May 17, 2014
Las Vegas, Nev. (UNLVRebels.com) - After Air Force defeated New Mexico on Friday, the message was clear to UNLV baseball: complete the sweep of your rival and you will, at the very least, earn a share of the Mountain West regular season title.
On Saturday at Earl E. Wilson Stadium, the Rebels (33-21/20-10 MW) did just that.
UNLV completed the sweep of Nevada, Reno (28-25/15-15 MW) by plating four runs in the third inning and held off a Wolf Pack rally in the ninth to win 4-2. The Rebels, who captured their first regular season conference title since 2005, share the 2014 regular season crown with New Mexico, who defeated Air Force earlier in the day.
UNR opened the game by getting two runners on base. Rebel starter Kenny Oakley settled in and induced the next two batters into a fly out and a foul out, respectively, to end the inning. Those would be the first two outs of eight straight that Oakley and the Rebels would retire through the third inning.
In the home half of the third, Edgar Montes and Johnathan Torres each recorded singles to lead off the frame. Matt McCallister then hit the third consecutive single to drive in Montes from second. Justin Jones followed that up by putting down a bunt and was able to reach and advance to second after the Wolf Pack catcher threw the ball past the first baseman. Torres ended up scoring from second on the UNR miscue. T.J. White hit a sacrifice fly to left field, plating Matt McCallister for the third run of the inning. Patrick Armstrong then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Jones to third and Jones scored when the next batter, Morgan Stotts, singled through left side.
After putting up a four spot in the third, the Rebels were held scoreless and limited to three hits the rest of the game.
The Wolf Pack would not go down without a fight and rallied in the ninth inning. They led off the inning with a walk and a double that immediately put two runners in scoring position. Jay Anderson then hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored a run. Pinch hitter T.J. Friedl grounded out to McCallister, but that brought the top of the UNR lineup around. The top-two hitters for the Wolf Pack each singled, which drove in a second run in the inning, but Brad Gerig grounded out to McCallister to end the game.
With the win, the Rebels locked up the No. 1 seed in the Mountain West tournament, which they will host next week. It will be the third time in conference history, and the first time a team not named TCU, will serve as the host and is the top seed in the tournament.
Oakley (4-6) earned the win after pitching 8.0 shutout innings. He allowed three hits and two walks and struck out five. Joey Lauria pitched 1/3 of an inning in the ninth and Brayden Torres pitched the final 2/3 of the game to collect his seventh save of the year.
Stotts led UNLV from the plate, going 2-for-3 with an RBI. As a team, the Rebels recorded seven hits on the day.
UNLV will be back in action next week in the MW tournament, which will be double elimination. With the No. 1 seed, UNLV will play in the late game on Thursday night. The full bracket can be found on TheMW.com
Tournament play begins on Wednesday with the No. 6 and No. 7 teams facing off in a play-in game at 11:00 a.m. Two more games will also be played on that day. The tournament will continue with three games on Thursday, three games on Friday, two games on Saturday and the "if necessary" game on Sunday. All of the games will streamed for free by the Mountain West Network.
For tickets, fans can go to UNLVtickets.com.