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UNLV can’t hold off Arizona State at Las Vegas Ballpark

Arizona State squandered runners in scoring position in each of the first five innings Tuesday night against UNLV.

The Sun Devils didn’t waste an opportunity in the sixth.

Arizona State scored three runs on three hits in the inning and rallied to defeat the Rebels 6-2 in a midweek matchup at Las Vegas Ballpark.

After a single and a hit by pitch, sophomore first baseman Jacob Tobias drove in two runs on a triple after the ball went past UNLV sophomore right fielder Santino Panaro, who tried to make a diving catch.

The runs prompted UNLV coach Stan Stolte to make a pitching change, bringing in sophomore right-hander Zach Simon. The Sun Devils (17-8) added one more run on a sacrifice fly from freshman center fielder Isaiah Jackson to take a 3-1 lead.

UNLV (7-15) had a chance to respond in the bottom of the inning. Panaro led off with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly from junior left fielder Austin Kryszczuk, but the inning ended when junior designated hitter Alex Pimentel was caught trying to steal second base.

Arizona State padded its lead in the seventh with a two-run home run from freshman third baseman Nu’u Contrades.

Arizona State also defeated UNLV 6-3 on Feb. 21. The Rebels are winless against power conference opponents this season — a 10-9 loss to Washington State in a tournament Feb. 27, two losses at Oklahoma earlier this month and a pair of losses to then-No. 7 Arkansas on the road two weeks ago.

The Rebels were picked to win the Mountain West in the preseason after winning the regular-season title last year. As of Tuesday night, the Rebels sit in sixth place out of seven teams with a 3-6 conference record.

The Rebels took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when junior designated hitter Alex Pimentel knocked a two-out triple and scored on a wild pitch two batters later.

UNLV starter Noah Carabajal managed to work out of trouble in the first five innings. Arizona State stranded a runner at second base in the first and at third base in the third.

After allowing two singles to start the second, the Sun Devils ended the inning with no runners on base. They stranded two more on base in the fourth after two singles.

The Rebels’ defense helped Carabajal out of the fifth after allowing a two-out double. Senior third baseman Edarian Williams made a sliding grab of a ground ball down the line and threw across the infield to sophomore first baseman Kade Higgins to end the inning.

After scoring in the first, UNLV mustered only one hit in the next four innings, a double from junior center fielder Rylan Charles in the third.

Carabajal (0-3) took the loss after allowing eight hits and three runs with five strikeouts in five innings. Arizona State senior Nolan Lebamoff (3-0) got the win in two scoreless innings of relief.

Tobias led the Sun Devils, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Pimentel and Charles each went 2-for-4 for the Rebels.

The Rebels face reigning Mountain West tournament champion Air Force on the road for a three-game series starting Friday.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

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