Rebels Travel To Face Two Ranked Teams This Week

April 23, 2013

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LAS VEGAS ( – The UNLV Rebels (27-12, 11-7 Mountain West) take to the road this week and will face a couple nationally ranked teams. The Rebels will first play at No. 8 Arizona State (24-12-1) and will continue on to resume Mountain West play at No. 24 New Mexico (24-16, 14-4 MW). UNLV went 4-0 last week, starting with a 24-11 victory over UC Riverside. The Rebels recorded 29 hits in the game and sophomore T.J. White finished a spectacular 7-for-7. UNLV continued its winning ways, sweeping San Diego State for the first time since 2007. The Rebels outlasted the Aztecs for a 9-8 win in 17 innings on Friday night. The 17 innings set a record for being the longest game in Earl E. Wilson Stadium history and tied for the longest game in school history. UNLV rallied to win 4-3 on Saturday and rallied again on Sunday, winning 5-2.

Junior college transfer Patrick Armstrong leads the Rebels from the plate this season and is hitting .381 in 31 games played. He also has a team-high 12 doubles. Sophomore T.J. White had a red hot week and now is second on the team with a .333 average, and lead the team with 54 hits. Senior Brandon Bayardi has a .325 average and leads the team with seven home runs. Mark Shannon leads the club with 35 RBI and is tied for a team-high nine steals with freshman Joey Armstrong. Shannon has also pitched well for UNLV. He owns a 4-1 record to go with a 3.35 ERA. He is fourth on the team with 36 strikeouts and has been the most dominate starter for the Rebels during midweek action. Junior Buddy Borden (5-1) currently has a 2.25 ERA which is not only the best on the Rebel staff, but is also the best in the Mountain West. Sophomore Erick Fedde (4-1) sports a 3.76 ERA and leads the team with 59 strikeouts in 64.2 innings. From the bullpen, senior Andy Beresford has seen the most action, pitching 21.0 innings of relief. He owns a 5-1 record and four saves to go along with a 2.57 ERA.

No. 8 Arizona State (24-12-1, 8-7 Pac-12) opened the season ranked as high as 16th, but fell out of the rankings after losing two of three to Washington State in week five. The Sun Devils followed that up with losing two of three to No. 3 Oregon State the next week. After the series against the Beavers, ASU had won six of their next eight games, including winning two of three against No. 4 UCLA and No 11 Oregon.  Since defeating UNLV on April 10, the Sun Devils went to Los Angeles and took two of three from USC. Last week they dropped a midweek game against Arizona but bounced back and took two of three against Valparaiso in Tempe. Leading Arizona State this season has been RJ Ybarra, as he is hitting .383 in 21 games played. Michael Benjamin has played in 36 games and has a .331 average. Trever Allen leads the team with 30 RBI and seven home runs this season. James McDonald is the only player for ASU who has played in all 37 games this season and is hitting .271 and leads the team with 13 doubles. The Sun Devils will send Zak Miller to the mound against the Rebels on Wednesday. The junior made his first career start last season against UNLV in Tempe, Ariz. and earned his second win of the season against the Rebels earlier this year. This season Miller sports a 2-0 record to go with a 3.00 ERA in 21.0 innings. Ryan Burr is the primary closer for ASU, as he has seven saves this season. He is 1-1 on the year with a 2.10 ERA in 25.2 innings pitched and is fourth on the team with 34 strikeouts. Matt Dunbar and Alex Blackford have also made relief appearances and each has recorded a save thie season. Dunbar has a 1-0 record to go with a 2.42 ERA in 26.0 innings, while Blackford sports a 4-1 record to go with a 4.03 ERA in 29.0 innings.
This will be the second meeting this season and only the third meeting in a decade between the Rebels and the Sun Devils. On April 10, ASU used an eight-run second inning to propel them to an 11-3 win. Last year, UNLV traveled to Arizona State and lost 4-2. Overall ASU has a commanding lead in the series with a 56-14-1 record against the Rebels and in Tempe, their record is 36-5. UNLV last won at ASU on May 6, 1987. This is only the third time UNLV has played at ASU since the turn of the century. 

New Mexico, predicted to be the best team in the Mountain West this season by the coaches’ preseason poll, got off to rough start to the 2013 season. UNM lost its first series of the year on opening weekend to Oklahoma State, winning only one game. The Lobos then traveled to the Kleberg Bank College Classic in Corpus Christi, Texas and beat Texas A&M Corpus Christi but lost to Iowa and No. 16 Oklahoma. Next up was a trip to Nebraska where UNM lost two games. They were able to string three together, beating La Salle twice and the first game of a four-game series against UC Riverside. The Lobos lost 4-3 to Arizona State before coming to Las Vegas and taking two of three from the No. 21 Rebels. After the first meeting between the two teams, UNM split with Missouri State and took two of three from Nevada, Reno and San Diego State. The Lobos lost at New Mexico State to open the month of April but beat Texas Tech the next day. They returned to MW play by winning two of three against Air Force before splitting with No. 10 Arkansas. Since that split, UNM has won the last seven, including sweeps over Fresno State and Nevada, Reno and a single game against New Mexico State. Leading the Lobo charge is All-American DJ Peterson. He is hitting .400 on the year and leads the team in runs (44), RBI (50) and home runs (12). Peterson was named the MW player of the week for Week 4 after going 12-for-15 with three home runs in the four-game series against UC Riverside. He is also the reigning Co-MW Player of the Year, an award he shared with his teammate Mitch Garver. Garver is hitting .374 this season and leads the Lobos with 61 hits. Drew Bridges has evolved into a Friday night starter from the mound the Lobos and has a 2-1 record to go with a 3.86 ERA. Projected Saturday starter for UNM against UNLV will be Sam Wolff who is 3-3 with a 4.25 ERA. He leads the team with 39 strikeouts. Josh Walker and Gabe Aguilar are the top relievers for New Mexico and have pitched well this season as Aguilar has allowed only nine earned runs in 24.2 innings and has 26 strikeouts. Walker has struck 35 in 41.1 innings pitched and leads the team with seven saves on the season.

UNLV and New Mexico (game-by-game results on Page 4) have a very rich baseball history where the Rebels hold a 80-62 advantage over the Lobos. However, New Mexico has won eight of the last nine games, including two in Las Vegas earlier this year. The Lobos own the longest win streak in the series as they were able to beat the Rebels 10 straight times from 1999 until 2001.

After the weekend series game against New Mexico, UNLV will return home for the last time this season. The Rebels will play five games in a matter of six days. Their first opponent will be UC Riverside on April 30 and will then resume Mountain West play against Fresno State May 3-5. UNLV will then host San Diego for one game on Monday, May 6.

On April 19, UNLV and San Diego State played its series opener at Earl E. Wilson Stadium. SDSU took an 8-3 advantage after six innings, but the Rebels scored three runs in the seventh and one run in the eighth and ninth innings to tie the game and send it into extra innings. After eight extra frames, the five hour and one minute marathon was over when UNLV loaded the bases and scored after an Aztec error, winning the game 9-8.  It ties for the longest game in UNLV history and is the longest game ever played on Roger Barnson Field at Earl E. Wilson Stadium.