May 22, 2014
By: Matt Burkholder
LAS VEGAS - The Bulldogs did their very best to steal a game in front of the home crowd and No. 1-seeded UNLV Rebels on Thursday, but Fresno State fell short 5-3 in a hard-fought pitching duel between Tim Borst and John Richy in the nightcap of the second day of the Mountain West Baseball Tournament.
"The kids played their hearts out tonight," said head coach Mike Batesole. "Tim [Borst] was fantastic, he made some huge pitches in the clutch.
"Both teams played exceptionally well, but only one team gets to win and it wasn't us tonight."
It was not until after the first inning on Thursday that both pitchers settled in as the game began with a flurry of hits, a combined four runs on seven hits that knotted the game at 2-2 after the first.
The 'Dogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top half thanks to Taylor Tempel roping a triple down the right field line. Jordan Luplow singled up the middle on the next at-bat, driving home Tempel from third base for the RBI and a quick 1-0 lead three batters into the game. Luplow then placed himself into scoring position, stealing second base, setting up Taylor Ward for an RBI single to center. Luplow collided with catcher Erik Vanmeetren on a play at plate, but the ball came loose and Fresno State owned a 2-0 lead with the result.
In the home half the Rebels' manufactured two runs off of four hits. Similar to the top half, the two and three hitters both reached base, a single and then a double, but did not score. It would take a ground out to bring home the first run on the fourth at-bat. Morgan Stotts tied the game with an RBI single on the next at-bat.
The 'Dogs loaded the bases in the second with two singles - Brody Russell and Jake Alvarez - and then Taylor Tempel reached on an error. But, Rebels' starter John Richy struck out Luplow to leave all three on base. Through the first two innings Richy had retired all six outs via the strikeout.
UNLV took the lead in the bottom of the fourth, scoring two, both against two outs, and would hold that lead for the remainder of the game. UNLV leadoff hitter Joey Swanson connected for a two-out two-RBI single to put the Rebels in the lead, 4-2.
Fresno State answered back in the fifth with a one-run two-out rally. Luplow drew a two-out walk, and then stole his second base of the game to place himself in scoring position once again. This time it was Woodward who would produce the run with an RBI single. Ward followed the single with a double down the left field line, advancing Woodward to third. Kevin Viers hit a chopper down the right field line that first baseman Patrick Armstrong hauled in to end the inning with the unassisted out that left Ward and Woodward on base.
Luplow nearly tied the game for the 'Dogs in the seventh, leading off with a single. He made it to third base aided by a sacrifice bunt and fly out. Third base would be as far as Luplow would reach as Richy closed the inning with his career-high 12th strikeout.
In the bottom of the eighth the Rebels scored an insurance run to take a 5-3 lead. UNLV took advantage of a walk and a wild pitch to set up A.J. Hernandez to register an RBI double, scoring the run from second.
The Rebels brought in left-handed sophomore Brayden Torres to close out the contest as he picked up his eighth save of the season, pitching the final 1.2 innings and striking out three of the five batters he faced.
As a team, the Bulldogs struck out a season-high 15 times.
Luplow led the Bulldogs offensively as he went 2-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored to go with two stolen bases in the game. Ward ended his night 2-for-4 from the plate.
Borst (4-5) threw a complete game in the loss and gave up five earned runs on 13 hits and finished with four strikeouts.
UNLV bettered their home record to 22-3 with the win, the Rebels have not lost more than one game in any particular month during the 2014 season.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs will face No. 4-seed Nevada in an elimination game at 11 a.m. PT on Friday. The winner of that game will play No. 2 New Mexico at 3 p.m. PT.
"Catch the Wave" - The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.
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