No. 5 Air Force Upsets No. 4 UNLV 15-7
Courtesy of Chelsey Chamberlain, UNM Athletics
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The fifth-seeded Air Force baseball team (29-25) used early-and-often offense to upset No. 4 UNLV (24-31) 15-7 on Wednesday from Santa Ana Star Field, on the campus of the University of New Mexico. The Air Force victory is the program’s first-ever, first-game win at the 2016 Mountain West Championship.
Air Force will find out its opponent in the winner’s bracket following the completion of the third game of the day, No. 3 Nevada versus No. 6 San Diego State. If Nevada wins, the Falcons advance to play the No. 1-seeded Fresno State Bulldogs (36-20, 21-9 MW) Thursday at 3 p.m. MT. If San Diego State wins, Air Force will face No. 2 seed New Mexico (35-21, 20-10) at 7 p.m. MT on Thursday. UNLV will play the loser of the Nevada-San Diego State game at 11 a.m. MT on Thursday.
The Falcons scored in all but three innings, capitalizing on a total of 26 hits which ties the Mountain West tournament record for most hits in a game. Those 26 hits are also a single-game high for the Air Force program and sixth most hits in a game in program history.
“I am just happy that we were able to put up a couple runs and get that cushion early,” said Air Force’s head coach Mike Kazlausky. “Our mentality is to attack and be very active at the plate.”
Seven Falcon players had three or more hits which was highlighted by a 4-for-6 performance from 2016 MW Co-Freshman of the Year Nic Ready. Ready led the squad with six RBIs, four coming off a grand slam in the fourth inning. Along with Ready, juniors Tyler Jones and Shaun Mize each had four hits. Junior Bradley Haslam, who leads the MW in hits, broke Air Force’s single-season hit record with his 3-for-5 effort. He also had three RBI.
“We were putting good bats together and capitalizing on the UNLV’s mistakes at the plate,” said Ready. “Hitting is a large aspect of our team and game this year. When we put these bats together, we can do big things.”
UNLV put offense together in the third, fifth, sixth and ninth innings. The Rebels scored four runs in the sixth to cut the Air Force lead to 9-6 but couldn’t get the bats going the rest of the way until the final inning when junior transfer Cooper Esmay hit a solo shot over the left field wall.
Air Force junior starter Jacob DeVries claimed the win on the mound to improve to 6-6 on the season. He allowed four runs, three earned, off just two hits while striking out four in five and a third innings of work. Rebel D.J. Myers was charged with the loss (6-4) after surrendering eight runs off 12 hits in three innings of work.
Live streaming of the 2016 MW Baseball Championship is available through the Mountain West Network (MWN) on TheMW.com and CampusInsiders.com. All live broadcasts are free of charge. Paul Loeffler, Robert Portnoy, Don Marchand and Chris Ello will call the games from Santa Ana Star Field. David Lombardi returns to the MWN broadcast team to provide color analysis and in-game features for a fourth consecutive season.
In addition, fans can watch live video on their mobile devices for free with the MW mobile app. Links to live stats, game highlights, recaps and box scores will also be available on the Mountain West Championship Central page on TheMW.com. The Mountain West application can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for iPhones and iPads, and from Google Play for Android phones and tablets. Broadcasts are also available on the Campus Insiders app and Verizon customers can watch on the go90 app.
Fans also can follow the Championship through the league’s social media channels on Twitter (@MW_OlySports), Snapchat (https://www.snapchat.com/add/mountainwest), YouTube (MountainWestConf), Facebook (MountainWestConference), and Instagram (MountainWestConference) for updates on each game. Followers are encouraged to use the hashtag #MWBSB16 when posting throughout the championship.