Aztecs Defeat UNLV, 6-3, in 11 Innings
April 6, 2012
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - San Diego State made it two straight over UNLV with a 6-3 win in 11 innings in a wild game Friday night at Earl E. Wilson Stadium in Las Vegas. It was a contest that the Rebels thought they had won in the ninth and one that saw the Aztecs throw away a golden chance to take it in the 10th before eventually scoring three times in the 11th on an unusual play on the base paths.
The contest began as a solid matchup between starting hurlers Travis Pitcher for SDSU and Zak Qualls for UNLV. The Rebels took the early lead with a run in the second on a double by Trent Cook, who went to third on a ground ball to first and scored on a grounder to second.
The Aztecs (16-16, 5-3 Mountain West) answered with two in the top of the fifth on a walk to John Spirk, fielder's choice by Dillon Bryant and a double by Matt Muñoz that put runners at second and third with one out. Greg Allen's grounder to third brought Bryant home and Tim Zier's RBI single scored Muñoz to give the visitors a 2-1 advantage.
UNLV (14-17, 2-9 MW) reclaimed the lead with two of its own in the bottom of the sixth as SDSU's Pitcher ran into control problems. A pair of singles sandwiched around an intentional base on balls loaded the bases with two outs. Pitcher then issued back-to-back walks to give the Rebels a 3-2 lead.
That lead was short-lived, however, as San Diego State tied the game at 3-3 in its half of the seventh on walk to Bryant, a stolen base and an RBI single by Allen.
In the bottom of the ninth, ULNV's Joey Swanner led off with a single off Aztec reliever Adam Anawalt and was sacrificed to second. An intentional walk to Brandon Bayardi plus a wild pitch put runners at second and third with one out. The Aztec then brought the infield in and moved center fielder Spencer Thorne to play right behind second base with Bryant and Allen playing in short left center and right center respectively.
Trevor Kirk then lifted a fly ball to Allen in short right field. Swanner attempted to score on the paly and although Allen's throw to the plate beat him, he avoided the tag and was safe. As the Rebel dugout emptied to celebrate on the field, SDSU catcher Chris Wilson threw the ball to Steven Pallares on the appeal and Swanner was ruled to have left the bag early. That ended the inning with no run scoring and sent the game to extra frames.
In the top of the 10th, the Aztec put runners at second and third with one out thanks to Pallares being hit by pitch and a single to left by Spencer Thornton followed by Jomel Torres' sacrifice bunt. Mark Shannon, who had come in from center field to pitch to Torres, threw a pitch in the dirt that bounced a few feet away from the Rebel catcher Remington Pullin. In the excitement of the moment Pallares broke for the plate and was retired easily as Pullin tossed the ball to Shannon covering the plate to tag Pallares out. That essentially ended the threat and the game moved on to the 11th after Anawalt retired the side in order in the bottom of the 10th.
Allen began the 11th with a double to left and he moved to third on Tim Zier's fly out to right. Chris Wilson was intentionally walked and promptly stole second. Steven Pallares then hit a ball back to the mound that went off Shannon's glove, but did not roll far. Allen broke for home, but thought better of it and retreated to third. Wilson, however, had advanced to third and was forced to make a hasty retreat toward second.
When the Rebels threw to second to try to get Wilson, Allen took off for home and scored to give SDSU the 4-3 lead. Wilson got back to second safely, and he and Pallares advanced to third and second respectively on Spencer Thornton's ground out. Torres then laced a double down the right field line to score both runners and give the Aztecs the three-run cushion.
Justin Hepner came on to pitch for SDSU in the bottom of the inning, and after surrendering a leadoff single, got a strikeout and double play to secure the win and notch his fifth save of the year. Anawalt, who went 3.2 innings allowing just a hit and two walks while striking out two, was credited with the win to improve to 2-1. UNLV's Shannon took the loss to fall to 2-3 on the season.
Greg Allen (single, double, two RBI, run scored) and Tim Zier (two singles, RBI) were the lone Aztecs with more than one hit in the game. Dillon Bryant had a single, two walks and scored a pair of runs while Jomel Torres' late double drove home the final two runs of the contest.
San Diego State and UNLV will wrap up their three-game Mountain West series on Saturday (April 7) with a game slated to commence at 1:00 p.m.