Rebels Complete Saturday Sweep in Phoenix|
March 3, 2018
UNLV 2 Valparaiso 1 | UNLV 8 Grand Canyon 6 (8) | @UNLVSoftball
PHOENIX, Arizona (UNLVRebels.com) - UNLV softball captured its first Saturday sweep of 2018 with a pair of wins at the Lopes Up Classic in Phoenix, Arizona. The afternoon started with the Rebels edging out Valparaiso 2-1, then finished with an 8-6 extra-inning victory over tournament host Grand Canyon that saw the Rebels give up a late lead but respond in the eighth to secure the win. UNLV has now won three straight to improve to 14-5 on the season - its best start since the team went 14-5 in 1996.
It was a team effort as both the usual suspects and some new faces stepped up Saturday.
Senior Janine Petmecky pitched a gem against the Crusaders in game one to capture her fifth victory in her last five starts, then notched her eighth win of the season as she entered in relief against Grand Canyon in the seventh and held off the Antelopes in the eighth.
Petmecky (8-1) has been brilliant over her last five starts, giving up four earned runs in 35 innings pitched to go along with 45 strikeouts and just seven walks. Twelve of those strikeouts came Saturday against Valpo, setting a new career high for the right-hander. She has struck out at least seven batters in each of her last five starts.
Sophomore Justine Federe continued her hot hitting with runners in scoring position, knocking in three RBI on the day, including both against Valparaiso. She has been impressive over the last two weekends. Dating back to Feb. 23, the second baseman is hitting at a .320 clip (8-for-25) with three runs scored, a home run, three doubles and a whopping 11 RBI. She is currently 9-for18 (.500) with runners in scoring position, while her 19 RBI this year leads all Rebels.
In extra innings against GCU, it was a pair of underclassmen who came through as freshman Jaclyn Candelas connected for an RBI single to break the tie and sophomore Reina Bondi - starting for the injured Myranda Bueno - followed with an RBI double that scored two and sent what ultimately proved to be the game-winner home.
GAME 1: UNLV 2 Valparaiso 1
THE TURNING POINT: The Rebels drew first blood with their only two runs of the game in the bottom of the first. Leadoff hitter Reina Bondi reached on an error, then swiped second to get in scoring position. Senior Jade Yadao-Valdez reached on a bunt single then stole second to put runners on second and third. That brought RBI specialist Federe to the plate, who again delivered with an two-run RBI double, which was all UNLV needed as Petmecky shut down the Valpo offense.
REBEL OF THE GAME: After not pitching an inning as a junior a year ago, Petmecky has been a force in the circle during her senior campaign. Just last week, the righty struck out 10, setting a then career-high in a shutout against Yale. She followed that with today's 12- strikeout performance for a new personal best.
STAT OF THE GAME: After seven straight games without scoring a run in the first inning, UNLV finally broke through with two in the first that lifted them to the eventual win.
GAME 2: UNLV 8 Grand Canyon 6 (8)
THE TURNING POINT: The Scarlet and Gray looked as if they were cruising to their second victory of the day, leading 4-1 and needing just three outs to seal the win. GCU responded with three runs to knot the game at four and send it to extras. With the international tiebreaker rules placing Samantha Diaz at second, freshman Mia Trejo started the inning with a single to put runners on first and third with no outs. That's when Candelas came through with the single to break the tie, which was followed immediately by the Bondi two-run double and just like that the Rebels had three runs of their own. They added a fourth run in the inning when Bondi went on to score on a passed ball. The Antelopes managed two runs in the bottom half of the inning, but Petmecky got out of the jam to pick her her second win of the day.
REBEL OF THE GAME: Bondi's two-run double proved to be huge as it gave the Rebels a 7-4 lead. The second RBI crossing the plate served as the game-winner after GCU managed two runs to get within two, but that's as close as they would get.
STAT OF THE GAME: UNLV recorded 15 hits against Grand Canyon - a season high.
QUOTABLE: Head coach Kristie Fox -
"Those were two great battles today. They were full team efforts and we needed every single player to get those wins. We were put into some really challenging positions and we were able to keep our composure."
* UNLV's14-5 record is its best start since the 1996 squad at the same record through the first 19 games
* The two wins Saturday marked the first time this season the Rebels have swept their Saturday doubleheader during tournament play
* Justine Federe leads the team with 19 RBI after another three on Saturday, including both against Valpo. The sophomore is now hitting a whopping .500 (9-for-18) with runners in scoring position
* Over her last five starts, Petmecky has given up just four earned runs in 35 innings pitched to go along with 45 strikeouts and just seven walks. She set a new career high with 12 against Valpo Saturday and has struck out at least seven batters in each of her last five starts.
* After seven straight game without scoring a run in the first inning, the Rebels scored two in the first inning in both games Saturday
* While UNLV had one error against GCU, they still have only committed nine on the season. Overall, the Rebels have committed zero errors in 11 games this season and have just one game where they committed more than one.
UP NEXT FOR THE REBELS: UNLV conclude the weekend in Phoenix Sunday with another matchup against Valparaiso. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. MT/12 p.m. PT at GCU Softball Stadium.