UNLV gives up four runs in the top of the seventh to drop series rubber match 6-5
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – The UNLV softball team looked as if it was cruising to a home series victory in the weekend finale against San Jose State (29-15, 9-6) Saturday at Eller Media Stadium, but ultimately let a lead and the series win slip away in a heartbreaking 6-5 loss to the Spartans. The Rebels entered the seventh inning with a 5-2 lead and three outs from the win before the Spartans erased the deficit and pulled ahead with four runs on five hits and two walks.
It marked the third straight Mountain West series loss for UNLV, who fell to 28-13 and 9-8 in league play, with Saturday’s result being the second time in the last three weeks the Rebels have lost a conference rubber match in heartbreaking fashion. Two weeks ago, with the series tied 1-1 and UNLV up 3-2 in the seventh, Fresno State hit a three-run home run to rob the Rebels late with a crushing blow.
The Scarlet and Gray used three pitchers on the day, with Jenny Bressler getting the start and all three – Bressler and juniors Charlie Masterson and Breana Burke – seeing time in relief. Bressler gave up two runs over the first two frames before giving way to Masterson, who turned in an otherwise impressive outing until the Spartans spoiled it in the seventh. The right hander had retired all 12 batters she faced between the third and sixth innings, but SJSU got to her in the final frame and the combination of Breana Burke and Jenny Bressler couldn’t clean up the mess to hold the lead. Burke only faced two batters, but a walk issued to the first Spartan she faced ultimately came around as the winning run, giving Burke her second loss in as many games.
UNLV had overcome a deficit of its own, tying the game at two in the third on a Denise Armendariz two-run double. The following inning, the Rebels took the lead on back-to-back RBIs from Lauren Tycksen and Mia Trejo to make it 4-2, then Samantha Diaz added what looked like an insurance run on a solo home run in the fifth. For the game, the Rebels managed 12 hits from nine different batters.
THE TURNING POINT: After Masterson gave up three straight hits and a run to start the seventh, Burke entered the game with two on and no outs. She walked the next batter to load the bases and the next Spartan came up with a single to right field to cut the Rebels’ lead to 5-4. Bressler then re-entered the game in a difficult situation with the bases loaded and still nobody out, but got the next batter to whiff on a strikeout for out number one. Unfortunately the next batter took Bressler to a 3-2 count then sent the ball down the left field line to score two runs and give the Spartans back the lead for good. Looking for a rally, Reina Bondi led off the bottom of the seventh with a double and was on third with one out, but the Rebels couldn’t come up with the timely hit to bring Reina home and force extras.
STAT OF THE GAME: The three-run lead was the largest the Rebels had given up in 2019, while it was just the second time in 21 games they’ve lost when leading after six innings.
REBEL OF THE GAME: Tycksen capped a productive weekend at the plate with a 3-for-3 day with one run scored and one RBI. Her run-scoring double in the fourth put UNLV up 3-2 and it looked like it would be the game-winning run. In three games against the Spartans, Tycksen went 6-for-11 (.545).
UP NEXT: UNLV is scheduled for its conference bye week next weekend and will welcome Cal Baptist to Eller Media Stadium for a three-game tilt. A doubleheader is scheduled for Friday, April 26 beginning at 3 p.m., while Saturday’s finale will start at noon.
* UNLV still leads the all-time series over SJSU 45-27, but has now lost its last two series to the Spartans after SJSU swept the Rebels in San Jose last season
* Four of UNLV’s six Mountain West series this season have come down to the weekend finale and a fifth almost came down to the third game if the finale at Utah State wasn’t cancelled. The lone series that didn’t was a sweep at San Diego State. UNLV is 2-3 in weekend finales during conference play
* The Rebels are now 5-10 when the opponent scores first and 5-6 when they score between 3-5 runs
* UNLV registered double-digit hits for the 22nd time in 41 games and lost just their third game when managing 10 hits or more in a game
* The Rebels lost just their fifth game when out-hitting their opponent. They were 22-4 entering Saturday’s game
* After struggling with runners in scoring position Friday in game two (1-for-14), the Rebels went 5-for-14 (.357) in game three, but overall hit just .250 in those situations in the series
* Burke is now 7-6 on the year with 2.00 ERA, a team-best
* Masterson had pitched just 4.2 innings during conference play heading into Saturday and pitched 4.0 innings
* Junior Lauren Tycksen stole two more bases Saturday to make her 21-of-23 on the year – which is best on the team in 2019
* UNLV needs just five wins to match last year’s total of 33 with 9 regular season games still left to play, while head coach Kristie Fox needs five wins to reach 200 total in her head coaching career
* UNLV had an error free game Saturday and have committed just 27 in 41 games
* Rebels have outscored its opponents 214-105 in 2019