UNLV ends Nevada’s baseball season with walk-off homer
Once the ball cracked the bat, Nevada fans knew the game was over.
UNLV’s Max Smith drilled the first pitch he saw over the right-center fence in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday to give the Rebels a 6-5 win over Nevada in the Mountain West championships at Peccole Park.
Nevada’s (30-26) run in the Mountain West championships came to an end while UNLV (29-29) advanced to the championship against Fresno State later in the day. The Bulldogs, though, repaid the favor by defeating UNLV 12-6 to win the MW title.
Nevada’s Conor Allard tied the game in the seventh inning with a solo shot. He also had two RBIs, including his second-career homer in the fifth inning that tied the game at 5.
The Pack totaled 12 hits on the afternoon, tied with the Rebels, with the team-high of three coming from Allard and Weston Hatten.
Nevada scored in the first inning when Allard smacked his first RBI of the day to drive in Joshua Zamora for the 1-0 lead. UNLV responded immediately by scoring three runs on five singles.
Nevada bounced back in the third frame as sophomore Tyler Bosetti smacked a double to score Hatten and cut the deficit to one. Jaylon McLaughlin drove in Allard to tie the game, and a groundout by Daniel Perry brought Bosetti home for the 4-3 Pack lead.
The Pack again couldn’t hold the lead through the rest of the inning, as UNLV came right back as a two-RBI double gave the Rebels another 5-4 lead which it would hold onto until the seventh.
Jake Jackson pitched the first 3.1 innings for Nevada when the Rebels scored their first five runs, but the combination of Shane Gustafson and Bradley Bonnenfant combined for 4.1 scoreless innings after that, striking out four Rebels and only allowing five hits. Bonnenfant suffered the loss by allowing Smith’s homer.
Nevada was one win away from playing for the MW championship, the farthest it has advanced in the tournament since 2016. That same year was the last time the Pack reached 30 wins before this season.
The Wolf Pack avoided elimination at the Mountain West Championships Friday afternoon by downing San Diego State, 6-4. With the victory, Nevada reached 30 wins for the first time since the 2016 season.
The Pack tallied 10 hits with Junior Daniel Perry the star of the Nevada offense, who smacked four hits, two RBIs and scored two runs. The Wolf Pack hit three consecutive home runs in the fifth inning from junior Jaylon McLaughlin, Perry and senior Keaton Smith.
With one out on the board in the top of the fifth, McLaughlin took advantage of the wind blowing to the outfield, getting a hold of the ball and sending it over the wall in right center field for the first solo shot of the game. Feeling the momentum from the home run and looking to continue his hot day, Perry followed up with an absolute no doubter to left field. Smith didn’t want to be left out of the fun, hitting the third-consecutive home run of the inning over the wall in left field.
When all was said and done, the offensive explosion had the game tied up 4-4.
Following the conclusion of the Mountain West championships, Perry and Zamora were named to the All-MW Tournament Team. Perry hit .364 with three RBI and a team-high .818 slugging percentage, while Zamora slashed a team-best .385 with five hits and a double in three games.