Aztecs Win MW Title With 13-4 Run Rule Win at UNLV

SDSU 13, UNLV 4 Opens in a new window

LAS VEGAS – After losses in the first two games of the series, San Diego State softball looked to bounce back in the series finale at UNLV on Saturday. The teams entered the day tied for first in the Mountain West with matching 14-7 records in conference play. The winner of Saturday's game would win the regular season championship and the top seed in next week's conference tournament. Trailing 4-3 after three innings, the Aztecs unloaded for ten runs in the fourth to take a 13-4 lead. The team got six more outs for a run rule, five inning victory to win the title.
The fourth inning did not start promising for the Scarlet and Black, as Friday's starter, Alanna Thiede entered the game and quickly got a strikeout and a groundout. Alyssa Garcia was hit by a pitch and was run for by Ally Dueker and Katie Goldberg and Cali Decker walked to load the bases. The Aztec bats came alive from there as Angie Yellen singled back up the middle to score Dueker and Goldberg while Decker moved to second and the Aztecs took a 5-4 lead. Two pitches later, AJ Murphy doubled to right-center, scoring both runners and extending the lead to 7-4. Lala Macario reached on a bunt single, moving Murphy to third, and then stole second to put two runners in scoring position for Makena Brocki. Like Murphy, Brocki laced a two-run double to right-center to make it 9-4. That was the end for Thiede as starter Ellie Zellien returned to the game. A Bella Espinoza single scored Brocki from second to extend the lead to six runs. For the second time on the day, Mac Barbara homered to right-center field to give the Aztecs an even dozen runs. Garcia reentered the game and followed Barbara with a solo home run to left for the tenth run of the inning. Zellien was pulled for good after the second homer with Jessie Fontes entering for UNLV. After a Goldberg walk, Decker grounded back to the pitcher to end the inning with a 13-4 lead.
The Aztecs got into scoring position again in the fifth inning, thanks to consecutive two-out walks by pinch-hitter Jade Ignacio and Brocki but nothing came of it.
Allie Light came on for SDSU in the fifth, three outs away from a championship. Light replaced Dee Dee Hernandez, who allowed four runs in four innings with four strikeouts. After a groundout to begin the inning, Ariana Martinez singled for the Rebels and Light hit Janyssa Martin to put runners on first and second. The Aztecs got the force out at second on a ground ball for the second out of the inning, putting runners on the corners. Light was able to get Sofia Morales to ground out to shortstop as the Aztecs won the Mountain West championship.
As they did on Thursday night, the Aztecs got on the board in the top of the first inning. Barbara doubled to right on the second pitch of the game. She advanced to third and then scored on consecutive groundouts by Garcia and Goldberg. Decker doubled and Yellen walked as the Aztecs threatened to extend their lead, but Zellien ended the inning with a flyout by Murphy.
In the bottom of the first, Hernandez was able to get a groundout to lead off the inning. After a walk of Maddie Schmidt, Martinez homered to dead center field as UNLV struck back to take a 2-1 lead. After a popup, Jesse Farrell homered to left as the Rebels extended their lead to 3-1. Hernandez struck out Sofia Morales to escape the inning.
The Aztecs had a response of their own in the second. Espinoza came up with two outs and singled through the left side to bring up Barbara. She attacked the first pitch she saw, hitting the ball out of the park to right-center field to tie the score at three. Garcia walked and Goldberg singled to bring Decker to the dish. She singled through the left side, but Garcia was thrown out trying to score on the play to end the inning.
The Rebels reclaimed the lead in the third. Skylar Shaw reached on a bunt single, and Schmidt advanced her to second with a bunt. The Aztecs intentionally walked Martinez to set up the force out. Janyssa Martin singled down the left field line to score Shaw. Then, Farrell walked to load the bases for UNLV but Hernandez was able to strike out Sofia Morales and Alyssa Trejo to get out of the jam.
The Aztecs' ten-run fourth inning was the team's highest scoring inning of the season as SDSU reached double digit runs in a game for the fourth time in 2024.
After going 3-4 on Friday while reaching base on an error in the lone plate appearance she didn't get a hit, Mac Barbara continued her streak on Saturday. Barbara doubled in the first and homered in the second before a groundout in the fourth marked the first time she was sent back to the dugout since Thursday. Later in the inning, she homered again for her sixth hit over the final two games of the series, including four for extra bases.
Top-seeded SDSU will begin its Mountain West conference tournament at 6:30 p.m. MT on Thursday against the winner of fourth-seeded Fresno State and fifth-seeded Boise State.
San Diego State 13, UNLV 4
San Diego State (28-18, 15-7 MW)      120 (10)0X X – 13 14 0
UNLV (31-17, 14-8 MW)                      301 00X X – 4 5 0
W – Hernandez, 10-4; L – Thiede, 16-7
HR: Martinez, UNLV (8); Farrell, UNLV (11); Barbara, SDSU (10, 11); Garcia, SDSU (1)