It's A Split Decision for the Rebels
Feb. 10, 2013
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - The UNLV Rebels moved to 2-2 early in the 2013 campaign with a split in Saturday's action at the Sportco Kick-Off Classic. UNLV picked up a 12-10 win in eight innings over the UCF Golden Knights (0-4) before suffering a 10-6 setback to the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the evening's finale.
The offense was led by a five-RBI day from Jaexie Balilea, who got four of them off a grand slam vs. Texas Tech. Taylor Aleman had added three RBI of her own while Stefany Valentino and Garie Blando had two apiece. As a team, the Rebels hit a combined .344 (22-for-64) and had five players register three hits.
Against UCF, UNLV broke open a scoreless affair when 13 batters stepped up to the plate and produced nine runs off of nine hits. Six different players recorded at least one hit, while three - Tayler Van Acker, Blando and Valentino - went 2-for-2 in the stanza.
The third began with the Scarlet & Gray loading the bases with help from a fielding error sandwiched by two singles. Valentino got the scoring barrage going with a two-run single to score Van Acker and Emilie Valadez from scoring position. Garie Blando, who was on first, took second on the hit and then third on a sacrifice bunt by Aleman. With Pauline Monreal at the dish, Mackenzie Hugh (0-1) uncorked a wild pitch to score Blando before she walked Monreal. The Rebels then got six straight hits - five singles and one double - to produce the next six scores. Van Acker and Blando were each responsible for two RBI while Samantha Juarez and Jaexie Balilea knocked in one apiece.
With the Rebels up nine, Stefany Valentino was summoned to relieve Amanda Oliveto in the circle. Unfortunately, Valentino was touched for eight runs off eight hits in 3.1 innings of work. The Golden Knights scored two runs in both the third and fourth innings before getting four more in the sixth.
Prior to UCF's four-run sixth, Valentino scored the team's 10th run off a double by Heather Harrison. Valentino originally reached on a walk before moving base to base after a sacrifice bunt and a groundout.
The visitors from Orlando knotted the score up in the bottom of the seventh with help from a throwing error that allowed two runs to score.
For the eighth inning, the international tie-breaker rule was put into play and put Blando on second to start the frame. Valentino reached base safely following a throwing error on a sacrifice attempt and stole second to put runners in scoring position. A passed ball by UCF's catcher allowed Blando to score before an RBI single by Aleman. The Golden Knights left their runner stranded at second as Oliveto got a quick 1-2-3 inning.
Oliveto got the win in 4.1 combined innings of action. She was touched for two runs, both of which were unearned. She struck out six while allowing only one hit and one walk.
In the nightcap, Texas Tech put four runs on the scoreboard quickly and never looked back. The Red Raiders got a two-run double from Sandy James to take an early 2-0 lead before Katelyn Williams (RBI single) and Brooke Scott (bases-loaded walk) were credited with the other two RBI.
UNLV cut the deficit to three in the bottom half of the first when Aleman blasted a solo shot over the fence in left.
Tech quickly pushed the lead back up to four with an RBI double from Sydnie Tapia in the second. After a scoreless third, they scored five more between the fourth and sixth.
The Rebels countered with five runs of their own with four off Balilea's grand slam in the fifth and another RBI from Aleman.
Oliveto was tagged with the loss and fell to 2-2 on the year. She tossed all seven innings and allowed 10 runs (seven earned) on 11 hits.
Cara Custer picked up the "W" for the Red Raiders after going the distance. Custer gave up six runs (five earned) on 10 hits with six K's and one walk.
In earlier action: Louisville defeated DePaul (8-2) and UCF (5-3), and Minnesota lost to DePaul (1-0) and Texas Tech (5-3).
UNLV returns to action on Sunday with a 12:30 pm tilt in the Classic finale against Minnesota. DePaul and Texas Tech square off bright and early at 8:00 am before Louisville and Minnesota battle at 10:15 am.