Thunderbirds Claw Wins Away From Rebels

April 11, 2012

Final Stats

LAS VEGAS ( - The UNLV Rebels (19-18) suffered a pair of losses to the Southern Utah Thunderbirds (24-17) on Wednesday night at Eller Media Stadium by scores of 8-4 and 11-10. UNLV, who was playing its first home games since March 4, struck first in the opening game only to see SUU rally for the win, while the second affair was nearly a reversal of the first. Unfortunately, the Thunderbirds held off a come-from-behind attempt by the home squad.

UNLV's offense hit .369 in the two-game set with six players scattering two hits or more. Pauline Monreal hit .556 on the night and led the squad in hits (five), RBI (three), runs (three), total bases (14) and slugging percentage (1.556). Four of Monreal's hits went for extra bases with two home runs, one triple and one double. Stefany Valentino and Paige Emerson had four hits apiece.

In the first game, UNLV owned a 3-1 lead heading into the fifth before SUU scored seven of the contest's final eight runs.

The Rebels used three hits and a Thunderbird error to break a scoreless tie in the second inning. Tayler Van Acker led off with a deep fly to right that was misplayed, and she wound up on second base. A sacrifice bunt and an RBI single by Valentino gave UNLV a 1-0 lead. Back-to-back singles by Elena Fata and Emerson loaded the bases before Jaexie Balilea hit a sacrifice fly to score Valentino.

SUU cut the deficit to one in the third with an RBI single by Kelsey Bryant, before UNLV countered with a run of an inning later. Valentino led off with a double and took third on a sacrifice bunt before a run-scoring single by Balilea, the second time the duo combined for a run in the game.

The Thunderbirds turned the game around in the fifth with six runs off two home runs and an RBI single. Mikkel Griffin knotted the game at 3-all with a two-run blast off Amanda Oliveto. After consecutive walks by Oliveto, Jessica O'Connor was summoned from the bullpen, but immediately gave up a go-ahead RBI single to Madison Resley. Kadi Henderson stepped up two batters later and hit a three-run dinger to extend SUU's lead to four runs at 7-3.

Monreal got a run back for UNLV in the fifth with a solo shot, but SUU answered with a homer of its own by Griffin in the sixth.

Heather Black improved to 15-11 with the complete-game win for SUU. Black allowed four runs (two earned) on nine hits. She struck out four and walked two.

Oliveto tossed four frames and allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits. She walked four against two strikeouts.

In the second game, SUU scored 10 unanswered runs through 2.5 innings of play, but witnessed UNLV chip away beginning in the bottom of the third. After falling behind 10-0, the Rebels outscored the Thunderbirds 10-1 over the final 4.5 stanzas. Unfortunately, the rally fell short with the game-tying and game-winning runs on third and first, respectively, when the final out was recorded.

SUU scored its first run of the game with an assist from a first-inning throwing error by UNLV. The Thunderbirds then registered nine runs off five hits and an error in the third. The first two runs came off RBI singles, while the final seven were the result of a grand slam and three-run homer. Oliveto was responsible for the initial seven runs to SUU, while Amber Petersen gave up the final three.

UNLV got its offense started in the third with two long balls. Emerson hit a one-out solo shot before Monreal connected on a two-run dinger. Balilea scored on Monreal's homer after initially reaching on a single.

The squads traded scores in the fourth with SUU getting its run off a sacrifice fly, while UNLV's came from a solo homer by Samantha Juarez.

With SUU owning an 11-4 lead, UNLV scored three times in the fifth to pull within four. The Rebels loaded the bases before an RBI single from Juarez and a two-run hit up the middle by Fata.

Kylie Wagner led off the seventh with a single through the right side and then gave way to Korin Cuico as a pinch runner before SUU made a pitching change. A deep fly to right moved Cuico to second before Fata hit an two-out RBI double to right center. Emerson and Valentino then connected on consecutive singles to keep the come-from-behind attempt alive. Valentino's hit knocked Fata home and cut the deficit to two runs. Balilea then struck out, but reached bases safely off a wild pitch. An errant throw to first by Marqi Gray allowed Emerson to score and put runners on the corners for Monreal, who hit a deep fly to the warning track in right to end the game.

Oliveto (12-11) was saddled with the loss in the second game after she allowed seven runs (six earned) on five hits in two innings. She walked two, as well.

Petersen and O'Connor combined for the final five innings of work. Petersen was touched for four runs on three hits, while O'Connor scattered three hits and no runs.

UNLV returns to action this weekend with a three-game set at Boise State to open up Mountain West action. The first game between the Rebels and Broncos is slated for Friday afternoon at 3:00 pm MT (2:00 pm PT). Saturday's and Sunday's games are scheduled for a 1:00 pm MT (noon) first pitch.