Aztec Comeback Bid Falls Short in 4-3 Defeat at UNLV

UNLV 4, SDSU 3 Opens in a new window

LAS VEGAS – After a 5-1 loss on Thursday, San Diego State softball resumed its series at UNLV on Friday afternoon. The Aztecs need just one win in the series to win the Mountain West title and the top seed in the MW tournament. SDSU fell behind early after coughing up a pair of runs in the first. The Rebels struck twice more in the third to take a 4-0 lead. Down to their last three outs, the Aztecs came storming back, scoring three runs and getting the tying run just 60 feet away, but came up just shy in a 4-3 loss.
The Rebels jumped out to an early lead in the first inning. Skylar Shaw had a leadoff single and stole second. Shaw advanced to third base on the second of consecutive groundouts. Janyssa Martin singled through the right side to score Shaw as UNLV claimed a 1-0 lead. Martin advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Jesse Farrell to make it 2-0. Cece Cellura induced a groundout to first base to end the inning.
For the Aztecs, in the second inning, Alyssa Garcia laced a one-out double to left to get into scoring position. A pair of Aztec groundouts ended the threat without a run.
In the top of the third, Mac Barbara knocked a ball into right-center field and hustled to beat the throw to second base for a double. A groundout ended the inning.
UNLV extended its lead in the bottom of the inning. Maddie Schmidt singled down the third base line to begin the third. The next hitter, Ariana Martinez, reached on an error, with Schmidt advancing to second. The runners moved up to scoring position on a wild pitch before Cellura was able to get Martin to ground out while holding the runners. Farrell singled back up the middle, scoring Schmidt while Martinez advanced to third. The Aztecs retired Farrell at second on a 1-6-4 fielder's choice, but Martinez was able to score on the play to make it 4-0. After another single, Cellura got a groundout to escape the inning.
The Aztecs reached scoring position again in the fifth. After a lineout and a groundout, Lala Macario singled up the middle. After a towering ball down the right field line that went foul, Barbara struck out swinging but reached on a passed ball by Rebel catcher Farrell. UNLV starter Alanna Thiede got a flyout to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, the Rebels threatened again. After a groundout, UNLV loaded the bases on a single, an error and another single. None of the three left the infield. Cellura was able to get a popout to short and a flyout to right to escape the inning unscathed.
After Cellura pitched five innings, allowing four runs (three earned), Cassidy West came on in the sixth. West struck out Marissa Bowman and got Shaw to ground out to short. Schmidt hit a ball over shortstop that rolled to the wall for a triple. West hit the next batter and walked the bases loaded before striking out Farrell to end the inning without a run crossing the plate.
AJ Murphy singled up the middle to lead off the seventh inning for the Aztecs. Macey Keester ran for Murphy and quickly advanced to third on a Makena Brocki single. Brocki's single chased Rebel starter Alanna Thiede from the game in favor of Ellie Zellien, fresh off Thursday's complete game. Thiede hurled six innings, striking out two and allowing eight hits. Jade Ignacio stepped to the plate for Julie Holcomb. Brocki stole second and the throw was high, allowing Keester to score from third. Brocki advanced to third as the Aztecs made two straight outs. Barbara singled through the left side to score Brocki to cut the lead to two and keep the game alive. Cali Decker singled and she and Barbara advanced to second and third due to an error by Schmidt, UNLV's shortstop. Bella Espinoza entered the game to run for Decker. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, with Barbara scoring and Espinoza, the tying run, moving to third. Zellien was able to get Goldberg to pop out to second in foul territory to end the game.
Saturday's series finale is a de facto Mountain West championship game. After Fresno State dropped the first two games of its series with New Mexico, the winner of SDSU and UNLV on Saturday will win the Mountain West regular season championship and the top seed in the conference tournament in Boise next week. The loser ties with Nevada for second place, which would mean the third seed for the Aztecs.
SDSU wraps up the series with the Rebels and the regular season at 12 p.m. on Saturday.
UNLV 4, San Diego State 3
San Diego State (27-18, 14-7 MW)      000 000 3 – 3 10 2
UNLV (31-16, 14-7 MW)                      202 000 X – 4 10 2
W – Thiede, 16-6; L – Cellura, 7-5; S – Zellien, 2
HR: None