Aztecs Defeat Nevada 4-1 to Advance to MW Title Game

SDSU 4, Nevada 1 Opens in a new window

BOISE, Idaho – Following Thursday night's run-rule 9-1 win over Boise State, top-seeded regular season champion San Diego State softball was back in action on Friday in the winner's bracket against third-seeded Nevada. Aztec starter Allie Light allowed just one hit over five scoreless innings as SDSU scored one run each in the third through sixth innings in a 4-1 victory to advance to Saturday's championship game.
The game began as a pitcher's duel with just one combined hit through the first two and a half innings, a single by AJ Murphy in the second. In the bottom of the third, Mac Barbara came to the plate. She homered to left-center field to put the Aztecs on the board first with a 1-0 lead on her fifth home run in her last three games.
An inning later, Katie Goldberg led off with a walk and was replaced on the basepaths by Elianna Reyes. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cali Decker. Angie Yellen singled back up the middle, scoring Reyes and doubling the Aztec lead to 2-0.
With one out in the top of the fifth, Nevada's Maile Olsen tripled to right on a ball that Murphy just missed on a diving attempt for the first Wolf Pack hit of the game. Light was unfazed, striking out Hannah Di Genova looking and getting pinch-hitter Chelie Senini to fly out to right to end the inning. Light's day was done after five shutout innings with just one hit and two walks allowed while striking out five.
In the bottom of the inning, Bella Espinoza singled to second with one out. She was initially called out at first but was ruled safe after a challenge. Later in the inning, Alyssa Garcia doubled to the gap in left-center field, scoring Espinoza and extending the Aztec lead to 3-0. Nevada pulled starter Blake Craft after 4 2/3 innings. Craft allowed three earned runs on five hits and two walks. Her replacement, Carley Brown pitched the last 1 1/3 innings and allowed an unearned run on one hit.
Dee Dee Hernandez came on in the sixth for the Aztecs. After allowing a one-out single, Hernandez induced a 6-4-3 inning ending double play by Bridgette Gilliano.
The Aztecs came to the plate in the bottom of the inning, with Decker leading off with a single. She was run for by Julie Holcomb. The next hitter, Angie Yellen hit a ground ball to second that was booted by Gilliano, putting runners on first and second for the Scarlet and Black. Holcomb moved up to third on a Murphy flyout. Jade Ignacio stepped to the plate to replace Lala Macario and grounded out to the pitcher, but Holcomb was able to score on the play. Yellen tried to advance to third on the throw home but was gunned out to end the inning.
After a quick flyout to begin the seventh, Taryn Jenkins homered deep down the left field line to get Nevada on the board. Hernandez got Aaliyah Jenkins to line out to right and Olsen to strike out to end the game as the Aztecs advanced to Saturday's title game.
Mac Barbara's home run in the third inning was her third of the tournament. She becomes the first player with at least three home runs in one Mountain West tournament, needing just four at-bats to do it. It was her fourth career home run in the Mountain West tournament, tying Brigham Young's Brooke Cadiente's (2000-03) record.
Since moving to the leadoff spot in the order prior to last Friday's game against UNLV (a four-game stretch), Mac Barbara is 9-13 with nine RBIs, seven runs scored, five home runs, a pair of doubles and a walk.
Top-seeded SDSU advances to Saturday's championship game, where it will face the winner of the Wolf Pack and second-seeded UNLV or fifth-seeded Boise State at noon MT/ 11 a.m. PT in Boise, Idaho. Should San Diego State lose that game, the teams would play again in a winner-take-all contest about half an hour following the conclusion of the first game. The Aztecs beat the Broncos 9-1 on Thursday and are 2-2 all-time against the Rebels in the conference tournament.
[1] San Diego State 4, [3] Nevada 1
Nevada (40-16)                   000 000 1 – 1 3 1
San Diego State (30-18)       001 111 X – 4 6 0
W – Light, 11-7; L – Craft, 15-6; S – Hernandez, 3.
HR: Barbara, SDSU (14); T. Jenkins, Nevada (14).