White's Walk-off Double Sends No. 1 UNLV to MW Championship Game
LAS VEGAS – Junior third baseman T.J White was the hero on Friday night at Earl E. Wilson Stadium as he hit a walk-off double to give No. 1 UNLV the 5-4 victory over No. 3 San Diego State Aztecs and a spot in the 2014 Mountain West Baseball Championship game. The Rebels improve to 35-21 on the season.
White found himself at the plate with rain drops falling as he stepped into the batter’s box to face one of the nation’s premiere 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. 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 from second base to give the Rebels the walk-off victory.
As late as the bottom of the eighth inning, SDSU led the game 4-1 as they work to get back to the championship game and defend their 2013 tournament title. UNLV junior centerfielder Edgar Montes had different plans as he smoked a three-run homer over the left field wall past the scoreboard to tie the game, 4-4.
White finished 4-for-5 with the game-winning RBI and Montes went 1-for-4 with three RBI on the night.
The Aztecs (39-19) did fight back from a one-run deficit after UNLV took the 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Junior catcher Erik VanMeetren hit an RBI single to right field to allow White to score for the first run of the game.
The Aztecs 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 Steven Pallares. Aztec senior second baseman Tim Zier ended up with three hits on the night, moving his SDSU-record career total to 299.
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 junior 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 as he struck out six.
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 face No. 4 Nevada at 3 p.m. PT on Saturday afternoon with the winner set to play UNLV for the tournament title at 7 p.m. PT.