No. 6 UNLV tops No. 7 San José State to advance in MW Championship
RENO, Nev. – In the first game of the 2015 Mountain West Baseball Championship, No. 6 seed UNLV topped the seventh-seeded San José State Spartans 2-1 to claim the play-in spot and advance to this afternoon’s game against Fresno State. This was the first time the two teams had ever faced each other in the tournament.
A.J. VanMeetren led the Rebels offensively, going 3-for-4. Edgar Montes and Morgan Stotts logged the team’s two RBIs. Brett Bautista shone for the Spartans, going 2-for-3 and bringing home their only run. Both pitchers went well into the game, with UNLV’s Kenny Oakley pitching seven innings and the Spartans’ Kalei Contrades pitching just an out short of seven.
“Huge reason why we won that game is because Kenny pitched so well,” said Erik VanMeetren, senior catcher for the Rebels. “Even his misses were very slight.”
San José State kicked things off in the top of the first when Andre Mercurio, who reached first with a single up the middle, was driven home by an RBI double from Bautista to the wall in right field. Chris Williams leapt for the toss from short, getting down on the bag in time for the final out and to strand two Spartans on base.
UNLV’s bats came alive in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases thanks to singles from Joey Swanner and A.J. VanMeetren and a walk from Erik VanMeetren. However, Stotts grounded into a 6-4-3 double play and the Rebels left the inning empty handed.
Erik VanMeetren brought another chance for the Rebels with a deep triple to right field in the bottom of the sixth. Montes stepped up to the plate and was able to bring him home with a sacrifice fly, tying the ball game at one. The Rebels then took the lead with a double from the other VanMeetren brother, A.J. and an RBI single from Stotts. Payton Squier lined out to end the inning.
Storms have been forecast for the week, and play was delayed an hour and 35 minutes due to lightening in the area in the top of the eighth.
“The delay killed us,” said UNLV Head Coach Tim Chambers. “Brayden Torres has a tender shoulder the way it is. The matchup was right, so we just had to keep him loose.”
The Spartans couldn’t reclaim the lead, and were sent home in the only single-elimination game of the championship. The Rebels will face Fresno State at 3:45 p.m. PT.
Follow the 2015 MW Championship on TheMW.com.