May 24, 2014
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Written by Joe Janowczyk, MW tournament staff writer
LAS VEGAS - Junior third baseman T.J White was the hero on Friday night in front of his home fans as he hit a walk-off double to give No. 1 UNLV baseball (35-21) a 5-4 victory over No. 3 San Diego State (39-19) and a direct path to the 2014 Mountain West Conference Championship game.
White found himself at the plate with rain drops falling as he stepped into the batters box to face one of the nation's premier pitchers in hard-throwing Aztec junior closer Michael Cederoth who missed out on his 20th save of the season.
The double was White's fourth hit of the evening in the lead-off role when he tagged a Cederoth fastball that flew directly over the Aztec first baseman's head to land just inches inside the right field foul line.
"He got a fast ball in on me and I got it down the line - we are in the driver's seat for tomorrow for sure," White said.
UNLV senior shortstop Matt McCallister then flew around the bases to come in and score to give the Rebels the walk-off victory.
As late as the bottom of the eighth inning, SDSU led the game 4-1 and hoped to get back to the championship game to defend its 2013 tournament title. UNLV junior centerfielder Edgar Montes had different plans, as he smoked a three-run homer over the left field wall passed the scoreboard to tie the game at 4.
White finished 4-for-5 with the game-winning RBI and Montes went 1-for-4 with three RBI on the night. Junior right fielder Morgan Stotts added one hit on three at bats with one run scored.
The Aztecs did fight back from a one-run deficit after UNLV took the 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when junior catcher Erik VanMeetren hit an RBI single to right field to allow White to score.
SDSU fired back in the fourth inning to tie the game as senior shortstop Evan Potter shot an RBI single up the middle into center field to score year Steven Pallares. Aztec senior second baseman Tim Zier made history when he picked up his 299th career hit to tie a SDSU school record.
In the fifth, SDSU jumped out to a 3-1 lead when sophomore left fielder Seby Zavala hit a double to left field that allowed senior catcher Brad Haynal to score for their second run. One batter later, a UNLV throwing error by Mccallister paved the way for Zavala to score to extend the lead to two.
Zier later scored in the seventh on an RBI sacrifice fly by Haynal to right field when the SDSU lead was pushed to 4-1.
The winning pitcher for the Rebels was sophomore Brayden Torres (2-1) who went one inning as starter sophomore Bryan Bonnell pitched 6.2 innings and gave up two earned runs on seven hits and struck out six.
The Rebels improve to 23-3 (88 percent) at Earl E. Wilson Stadium this season, which is the best home winning percentage in school history.
Cederoth took the loss to move his record to 5-2. Starting for the Aztecs on the mound was junior Mike Robards who went 4.1 innings and gave up one earned run on five hits with five strikeouts.
SDSU will now face No. 4 Nevada, Reno at 3 p.m. PT on Saturday afternoon with the winner set to play UNLV for the tournament title at 7 p.m. PT.