UNLV is back at Wilson Stadium tonight, and the return home can’t come fast enough for the Rebels.
They come off a disastrous road trip, going 2-5, losing ace pitcher Erick Fedde to elbow surgery and then on Monday finding out coach Tim Chambers was suspended for the final four games of the regular season.
Chambers was sidelined after bumping an umpire in Sunday’s 3-2 loss at San Diego State. The four-game suspension is mandated by an NCAA rule.
“I regret that I accidentally made contact with the home plate umpire during the game in San Diego,” Chambers said in a statement. “I went out to stand up for my guys after a close play at third base and the argument escalated. In no way was I attempting to intentionally come into contact with the umpire. I accept my suspension and know that as the head coach I need to hold myself to a higher standard.”
Associate head coach Stan Stolte will take over as acting head coach.
The Rebels (30-20) are at a critical juncture in their season. They appeared to be a lock for their first NCAA regional since 2005, but the struggles on the recent trip make a postseason appearance less of a certainty.
Even so, UNLV is 30th in the Ratings Percentage Index rankings, 19 places higher than the next Mountain West team, San Diego State (35-17, 15-12 MW). At 17-10 in league play, the Rebels also are just one game in the Mountain West standings behind leader New Mexico (35-17-1, 18-9), which has an RPI ranking of No. 53.
Various postseason projections last week placed UNLV and New Mexico in regionals, with San Diego State more of a bubble team.
UNLV should get a boost by being home, having gone 18-2 at Wilson Stadium this season. The Rebels host Arizona State at 6:05 p.m. today and UNR on Thursday through Saturday to close the regular season.
They also will be the host team for next week’s Mountain West tournament.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at email@example.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.