UNLV overcomes five-run deficit to hand Rams just their second Mountain West loss
FORT COLLINS (UNLVRebels.com) – The UNLV softball team captured arguably one of its most rewarding wins of the 2019 campaign Friday in the series opener at first-place Colorado State (29-6, 11-2), coming back from five runs down to tie the game before an eventual 6-5 victory. The Rebels two-game losing streak came to a halt, while it was the Rams’ second straight loss after a program-record 20-game win streak ended last Sunday with a loss to San Jose State.
With the win, UNLV improved to 27-9 and 8-4 in Mountain West play, needing just six wins to match last year’s season total with 14 regular season games left to play. The 27-9 mark is also the third-best record through 36 games and best since 1995.
The Rebels entered the weekend having lost its first league series and back-to-back games for just the second time this season, with Sunday’s loss to Fresno State coming in heartbreaking fashion. UNLV easily could have given up when the Rams scored five runs on seven hits in the bottom of the third to take a 5-0 lead, but the Rebels responded right away, scoring five of its own on five hits in the top of the fourth to tie it. The five runs were the largest deficit the Scarlet and Gray have overcome this season.
Junior Justine Federe and sophomore Mia Trejo were again a dynamic duo at the plate, fueling the offense as the pair went 6-for-7 with four RBI and two runs scored. Freshman Jenny Bressler got the start in the circle and wasn’t as sharp as usual in allowing the five-run third, but junior Breana Burke had her back in relief, throwing 4.1 scoreless frames for her seventh win.
THE TURNING POINT: The Rebels had only faced a five or more run hole twice this season and hadn’t been able to come back from those deficits, so UNLV was facing an uphill battle after the Rams took the 5-0 lead after the third inning. The offense stayed calm in the top of the fourth, even after a double play left only one runner on base with two outs. After a CC Caccamise single and a Lauren Tycksen walk loaded the bases, two straight RBI singles by Reina Bondi and Federe cut the lead to 5-2. That brought up Trejo, who has been lights out during conference play, and she delivered with a bases-clearing triple to right center to tie it up at five. Two innings later, Federe got the offense started with a two-out single and Trejo walked to put two on. Freshman Denise Armendariz was up next and she came through with the game-winning RBI single to score Federe from second for the 6-5 lead.
STAT OF THE GAME: All six of the Rebels’ runs came with two outs – including all five in the fourth to tie it.
REBEL OF THE GAME: Burke had an outstanding bounce-back performance after suffering the loss in game two last weekend to Fresno State. The right hander has been money in her last two relief appearances, going 4.1 frames without allowing run Friday night after a 10.2 scoreless appearance in the 4-3 win in 17 innings at San Diego State a few weeks ago. She had ice in her veins until the final out as the Rams put two on with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but she got the final two outs to seal the win. Burke is now 7-3 with 1.67 ERA in 2019.
UP NEXT: UNLV has a chance to hand CSU its first series loss of the season on Saturday at Ram Field. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. PT
* UNLV is now 40-47 against Colorado State all time
* The 27-9 record is the third-best record through 36 games. The 1991 & 1995 squads are tied for best mark at 28-8
* UNLV needs six wins to match last year’s total of 33 with 14 games still left to play, while head coach Kristie Fox needs just six wins to reach 200 total in her head coaching career
* Trejo has been almost unstoppable during league played, hitting .534 with 19 hits (four home runs, two doubles, one triple), 21 RBI and 10 runs scored
* In the last two series openers the last two weekends against Fresno State and Colorado State, Federe and Trejo have combined to go 12-for-13 with nine RBI, seven runs scored, two home runs and a triple
* UNLV committed just its 24th error of the season and is now 8-5 when committing one error in a game
* Rebels still continue to outscore its opponents 196-83