Rebels’ Richy Pitches No. 1 UNLV to 5-3 Win Over No. 5 Fresno State
LAS VEGAS – The top-seeded UNLV Rebels took down No. 5 Fresno State 5-3 on Thursday night in front of their home fans at Earl E. Wilson Stadium on the arm of junior pitcher John Richy.
Richy struck out a career-high 12 batters on the night and brought his season total to 105. He threw 7.1 innings while giving up three earned runs on nine hits. Richy moves to 11-3 on the season to help his team advance to the next round of the 2014 Mountain West Baseball Championship.
“I tried to keep a fresh mindset and go one pitch at a time,” Richy said.
“I got myself into some tough situations but found a way to get out of them to get the win. I love pitching at home. And this maybe, being my last start here at UNLV, I wanted to make it count,” Richy continued.
UNLV (34-21) took the lead in a tied game in the bottom half of the fourth inning when Rebels’ junior left fielder Joey Swanner ripped a two-RBI single to center field that sent home junior designated hitter A.J Hernandez and junior right fielder Morgan Stotts to take a 4-2 lead.
In the eighth inning, the Rebels added an insurance run when they extended their lead to two, 5-3, as Hernandez hit an RBI double down the right field line that scored junior catcher Erik VanMeetren who had walked earlier in the inning.
Swanner finished 2-for-5 with two RBI. Hernandez went 2-for-4 with the one RBI, while Stotts went 1-for-3 with one run scored.
UNLV head coach Tim Chambers mentioned the competitiveness of tonight’s game in an emotional victory for Richy.
“They are a good team – the Mountain West is strong this year. We had some good at bats and it was an emotional night with Johnny probably taking the rubber for the last time here at home,” Chambers said.
“I think Johnny pitched like Johnny – I don’t know who else in the country has 11 wins but he’s got them.”
The Bulldogs did take an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first when junior right fielder Jordan Luplow hit an RBI single through the middle of the infield. One batter later, Luplow came home to score when sophomore catcher Taylor Ward singled to center field.
Luplow led his team offensively yet again as he went 2-for-3 with one RBI and two runs scored to go with two stolen bases in the game. Ward ended his night 2-for-4 from the plate.
Fresno State sophomore pitcher Tim Borst (4-5) threw a complete game in the loss and gave up five earned runs on 13 hits and finished with four strikeouts.
The Rebels brought in left-handed sophomore Brayden Torres to close out the contest as he picked up his eighth save of the season, pitching the final 1.2 innings and striking out three of the five batters he faced.
On Friday night at 7 p.m. PT, the Rebels will square off against No. 3 San Diego State (39-18), who advanced earlier in the day after defeating No. 2 New Mexico 11-5.
Friday’s action will begin at 11 a.m. PT with an elimination game between the Bulldogs and the No. 4 Nevada Wolf Pack. The winner of that game will play No. 2 New Mexico at 3 p.m. PT.