UNLV’s struggles against Fresno State continued Friday night.
Top-seeded Fresno State, ranked No. 23 by Baseball America, defeated the Rebels 11-1 in seven innings on the mercy rule in a Mountain West tournament winners bracket game.
UNLV (28-28) next plays No. 4 seed UNR (30-25) at 2 p.m. Saturday in an elimination game at Peccole Park in Reno. The winner faces Fresno State (37-14-1) at 6:30 p.m.
If the Bulldogs win, they take the tournament title and the conference’s automatic bid to an NCAA regional. If they lose, a winner-takes-all game will be at 1 p.m. Sunday.
UNLV’s Chase Maddux (3-6, 5.32 ERA) will start against UNR. A starter for the night game, should the Rebels advance, has not been determined.
“We’re in survival mode now,” UNLV coach Stan Stolte said. “We’ve just got to win and go from there.”
Fresno State continued its recent dominance over the Rebels. The Bulldogs swept a three-game series to close the regular season by a combined score of 34-9.
On Friday, the Bulldogs scored three runs in the second inning, with Nate Thimjon doubling in one run and Zach Presno following with a two-run homer. They added two runs in the fourth on RBI singles by Thimjon and Jeff Jamison.
McCarthy Tatum hit a grand slam to center field for a 9-1 lead in the seventh, and Fresno State scored twice to reach the clinching 10-run margin.
“They’re an explosive team,” Stolte said. “It was a decent game until the wheels came off in the bottom of the seventh. Once they get rolling, they’re hard to cool off sometimes.
“We had a couple of chances to make the game tight, and we just didn’t get that big hit.”
Mountain West tournament
At Peccole Park, Reno
UNLV 9, San Diego State 3
Fresno State 4, UNR 3
UNR 6, San Diego State 4
Fresno State 11, UNLV 1
UNLV vs. UNR, 2 p.m.
Fresno State vs. UNLV-UNR winner, 6:30 p.m.
Championship game (if necessary), 1 p.m.