Big Inning Helps Rebels Even the Series in Reno|
April 14, 2017
RENO, Nev. (UNLVRebels.com) - UNLV Softball overcame an early seven run hole with its biggest comeback of the season to even the series with a 12-7 win over in-state rival Nevada, Reno Friday at Hixson Park. The Wolf Pack built a seven run lead after two innings - thanks to a first-inning home run by UNR slugger Erika Hansen for the second-straight game - but this time the Rebels responded with an eight-run top of the fifth and a season-high 20 hits to avoid the series loss. The victory improved the Rebels' overall record to 21-18 and 4-7 in Mountain West play. Saturday's series finale will not only serve as the rubber game but the winner will also be awarded with three points in the annual Governor's Series matchup presented by NV Energy and Barrick Gold.
Freshman Breana Burke made her second start in the circle of the season and struggled to find her footing as UNR took an early lead in the first on Hansen's three-run homer, then extended the lead in the second with four more runs off Burke. Fellow freshman Charlie Masterson entered the game in relief and pitched 3.2 scoreless innings before giving way to senior Morgan Ettinger, who closed it out with 2.0 innings of scoreless ball.
Early on it looked as if another first-inning home run and a cold offense were going to do the Rebels in for the second-straight game as the Rebels were held to one run through the first four innings. UNLV has relied on early runs in a majority of their wins this season, so the chances of coming back seemed bleak after the big hole. A day after suffering its fourth shutout of the year, the Scarlet & Gray exploded with its largest single-inning output in 2017, scoring eight-runs in the top of the fifth to erase a six-run UNR lead. The Rebels added three more runs over the final two frames to put the game away.
The Rebels avoided a second-consecutive shutout in the top of third after four straight singles by Masterson, Brianna Gatlin, Janine Petmecky and Alyssa Navarro brought one run across the plate. The monster top of the fifth started with another single by Gatlin, who came around to score after a groundout and Brooke Stover RBI single. Freshman Justine Federe put runners on second and third with a one-out double, then pinch hitter Chrissi Omalza walked to load the bases. Junior Jadelyn Yadao-Valdez was up next and forced an error by the third baseman, which allowed Stover to score from third and make it 7-3. Two-consecutive bases-loaded walks cut the deficit to 7-5 and that brought Gatlin back up to the plate for the second time in the inning. As the Rebels' most consistent hitter this year, Gatlin again delivered with a two-out two run double to centerfield that evened the score at seven all. Petmecky, who has the most RBI of any Rebel this season, was up next and picked up two more with a two-out single to score Masterson and Gatlin to take the lead for good at 9-7. It was the 22nd and 23rd runs batted in for the junior, who has gone 6-for-8 with the two RBI to go along with one run scored in the series. Gatlin also had a big day overall, going 3-for-5 with one double, two RBI and two runs scored.
In the next inning, UNLV extended its lead to 10-7 after Federe hit her second double of the game and came around to score on consecutive hits by Myranda Bueno and Yadao-Valdez. The Rebels put an exclamation point on the comeback in the top of the seventh on a two-run home run by Navarro - her team-leading fifth of the season - to provide the final score of 12-7.
Saturday's rubber game will begin at 12 p.m. at Hixson Park in Reno.