San Jose State Spartans baseball evened its series against UNLV with a 5-3 win over the Rebels on Saturday at Municipal Stadium. This followed a 12-0 loss to UNLV on Friday. Josh Nashed led in hitting with a perfect 4-for-4 from the plate, and Shane Timmons had hits on three of his four at-bats.
After two scoreless innings, UNLV took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, off a sacrifice grounder by A.J. Vanmeetren that drove in Kyle Isbel, following a triple by Isbel. Payton Squier then doubled, and Andrew Yazdanbakhsh was hit by a pitch from Hilario Tovar, to put runners on first and second. Neither would score, after Justin Jones fouled out.
Following a Tyler Olivet ground out to begin the bottom of the fifth, Michael Breen doubled to deep left, and Dillan Smith singled to put them on the corners. Aaron Pleschner then smashed a single into left field to drive in Breen for the tying run. Joe Stefanki then made the fourth straight hit of the inning, a right field single that drove in Smith and gave San Jose State its first lead. Ozzy Braff extended the lead to 3-1 with a sacrifice bunt that advanced Stefanki to second and sending Pleschner to home plate. Timmons then singled, but Stefanki was tagged out at home after attempting to advance from third base, for the final out that ended the Spartans’ attack.
UNLV responded by tying the game in the top of the sixth. After a Squier single, Jones hit a triple off the right field wall that scored Squier. Corey Pool singled past shortstop Pleschner’s reach for Jones’s tying run. Although Pool went all the way to third base thanks to a wild pitch and sacrifice grounder, Nick Rodriguez flew out to end the inning.
In the seventh inning, Jonathan Hernandez subbed in to pitch for Tovar. Although Hernandez retired the first two batters faced, he gave up singles to Vanmeetren and Squier. Matt Brown was then subbed in, and he immediately got the final out off a fly out by Yazdanbakhsh.
San Jose State took the lead in the bottom of the seventh with two outs. Pleschner, having reached first on a fielder’s choice, went to third off a wild pitch by Kenny Oakley (loss, 4-5) and passed ball by catcher Yazdanbakhsh. Braff walked, and a Timmons single to left scored Pleschner for the go-ahead run. Nashed hit another single to the same side, and Braff successfully rounded third for home for a 5-3 lead. Timmons tried advancing an extra base as well, only to be caught in a rundown and tagged out by Isbel.
From there, Brown held UNLV to one hit in the final two innings, a ninth-inning, one-out single by Cody Howard. On the final play, Isbel grounded out in a double play. Brown got the win and improved to 2-5 on the season.
“I just stuck to my approach, getting ahead of the batters, staying around the [strike] zone,” explained Jones.
Jones also credited the defense for not allowing a high-scoring inning, in contrast to Friday’s game. The rubber match will be on Sunday at 1 p.m. With this win, San Jose State improves to 14-28 (6-17 Mountain West) and 63-151 overall under head coach Dave Nakama. The team now exceeds last season’s overall win total and matches last year’s conference win total.