weather icon Clear

UNLV plays San Diego State in Mountain West baseball tourney

UNLV had hopes of playing in an NCAA baseball regional this season, but the team’s .500 record is indicative of its inconsistency.

Even so, the Rebels’ postseason hopes are still alive, and that’s what they are focused on as the Mountain West tournament begins Thursday at Peccole Park in Reno.

No. 3 seed UNLV (27-27, 14-16 MW) plays No. 2 San Diego State (32-23, 16-13) at 2 p.m. in the double-elimination tournament. Top seed Fresno State (35-14-1, 20-8-1) faces No. 4 UNR (29-24, 14-16) at 6:30.

The winner advances to a regional tournament. Fresno State, ranked No. 23 by Baseball America and No. 25 by Collegiate Baseball, is the only team in the field that could get an at-large bid, though their No. 38 RPI ranking doesn’t make it a sure thing.

”I think all four teams this week have a chance to win it,” UNLV coach Stan Stolte said. “Obviously, Fresno’s the favorite, as they should be. They rolled through the league pretty easy, and as we experienced last weekend, they’re playing pretty well right now.”

Fresno State swept the Rebels in a three-game series at Wilson Stadium, winning 7-0, 16-5 and 11-4, and they have lost four straight entering the conference tournament.

If UNLV has one advantage that can carry it to the conference title, it’s offense.

The Rebels are third in the Mountain West with a .291 team batting average, behind Fresno State (.297) and New Mexico (.292).

UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott is a projected first-round pick in next month’s major league draft. He is fourth in the Mountain West in batting (.361), second in home runs (10) and doubles (19) and first in runs scored (61).

“Once your bats get hot and your arms get hot, it’s a fun game to play,” Stott said. “With the bats that are in our lineup this year, I think we have a chance to do damage.”

Pitching is another matter. UNLV’s 5.76 ERA is ahead of only New Mexico’s 6.21 in the conference.

Right-hander Ryan Hare will start against the Aztecs, and he has pitched up to the level of an ace with a 7-4 record and 3.79 ERA.

Stolte said his biggest worry is falling into the losers bracket.

“We’re not quite as deep (as other teams),” he said. “We think the best chance of winning is through the winners bracket, obviously, because it would be tough to come through the losers bracket. You’d have to play up to five games, and we’re a little thin when we get to the fourth, fifth game.”

More Rebels: Follow at reviewjournal.com/Rebels and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Sacramento continues winning ways over Las Vegas Aviators

Chris Shaw’s two-run single in the eighth-inning snapped a 2-2 tie Sunday as the Sacramento River Cats topped the Aviators 4-3 in a Pacific Coast League game before 7,863 at the Las Vegas Ballpark.

Former 51s slugger Alonso sets Mets rookie HR record

Alonso, 24, hit an 0-2 pitch to lead off the fourth inning for his 27th round-tripper of the season, besting Darryl Strawberry’s mark set in 1983.

Aviators lose to Sacramento on Finn bobblehead night

Francisco Pena’s sacrifice fly broke a ninth-inning tie Saturday and the Sacramento River Cats edged the Aviators 4-3 in a Pacific Coast League game in front of 10,143 fans at Las Vegas Ballpark.

Aviators rally, stun River Cats

The Aviators rallied from a nine-run deficit on Thursday night in their return to Las Vegas Ballpark, beating the Sacramento River Cats 11-10 in Pacific Coast League play before 10,089 fans.

Plot that wounded David Ortiz unraveled after many mistakes

Instead of killing his intended target, the hit man wounded David Ortiz, the baseball superstar almost universally adored in his native Dominican Republic.

Nationals to extend protective netting during All-Star break

Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner says the club will replace the current protection with more transparent netting and extend it to just short of the foul poles.