Back-To-Back-To-Back For Rebels
May 28, 2005
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Matt Wagner carried his magic from the first UNLV-BYU game into the second one Saturday night and the bullpen slammed the door after the sixth inning to lead the Rebels past BYU 7-4 and to the Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship.
Now the Rebels, who improved to 34-27 with the win, are making their third-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and will find out what regional they will be placed in when the NCAA announces the field on Monday at 8:30 a.m. (PT) on ESPN. The NCAA will announce the sites of the regional sites on ESPNews on Sunday at 12:40 p.m. BYU finished its year with a record of 39-19-1 and will wait to see if it gets an at-large bid to the tournament.
The title is UNLV baseball's third-consecutive crown and one of the most difficult for the Rebels when considering they needed to win three games in less than 24 hours, beat BYU twice on Saturday and do so without their top two starting pitchers.
Wagner, named the tournament MVP after giving up just one run over 7.2 innings in two games against BYU on Saturday, started the second game and worked three innings, allowing the Cougars to score just one run in the opening inning.
After the Cougars tied the score at four in the top of the fifth, UNLV regained the lead with a run in its half of the fifth and the bullpen made it stand the rest of the way, just as it had done in the first game Saturday.
Wayne Foltin and Chris Huseman combined for two scoreless innings and with the bases full of Cougars and two outs in the seventh, Tabeek came in and got a fly out to left field to thwart the threat. From that point on Tabeek didn't give up a hit and allowed just one walk over the final two innings to earn the save.
In the two games today against BYU the Rebel bullpen didn't allow a run to score after the fifth inning in each game.
UNLV's offense had a big inning in the third, scoring four runs to erase a one-run deficit and grab a 4-1 lead. Matt Fry led off the inning with a double and he later scored on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Kowalski to tie the game. Mike Cruz and Zeke Parraz then both hit RBI doubles and Chris Bonnell capped the Rebel rally with a RBI single.
Sean McNaughton led off the game with a triple for BYU and he scored a batter later on a ground out by Marcos Villezcas but the Cougars squandered chances to put more runs on the board. They had a runner thrown out at home in the top of the second inning and then the Cougars had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the fourth inning against UNLV reliever Efren Navarro Jr. The left-hander gave up three singles after striking out the first batter he faced but Navarro Jr. worked his way out of the inning, getting Ryan Chambers to hit into a fielder's choice and then he struck out Casey Nelson looking to end the threat.
BYU got to Navarro Jr. in the fifth inning, scoring three runs to tie the game at four. Villezcas and Apana Nakayama both singled with one out and after a fielder's choice put runners at the corners, Brandon Taylor hit an RBI single to left field that scored Villezcas. Ben Saylor then cleared the bases with a double that landed just inside the right-field foul line to knot the game at four.
The resilient Rebels again responded as Bonnell and Bird hit back-to-back doubles that gave UNLV the lead back at 5-4. The Rebels extended the lead to two in the bottom of the sixth inning on an RBI single by CJ Lang that scored Kowalski to make the score 6-4 heading into the final three innings.
Bird finished the game going 2-3 with an RBI while Parraz was 2-5 with two RBI. Parraz hit a RBI single in he eighth inning that made it a 7-4 game in favor of the Rebels. Saylor went 4-5 for the Cougars and drove in two runs
-MWC TOURNAMENT NOTES-
-UNLV became just the second team in Mountain West Conference history to win the tournament championship by winning two games on Saturday. BYU did it back in the 2002 against San Diego State.
-2005 MWC Championship All-Tournament Team Ryan Chambers, BYU; Dave Horlacher, BYU; Chris Carlson, New Mexico; Quintin Berry, San Diego State; Lance Zawadski, San Diego State; Ryan Bird, UNLV; Chris Bonnell, UNLV; Matt Luca, UNLV; JC Sibley, UNLV; Josh Cooper, Utah; Designated Hitter: Apana Nakayama, BYU; MVP: Matt Wagner, UNLV;