Back-to-back homers in the 8th lead SDSU baseball past UNLV, 9-7

by Mayer Pohlod, Staff Writer

The Aztecs finally broke through in the second game of the series against UNLV on Saturday, scoring six runs between the seventh and eighth innings, as they defeated the Rebels 9-7 in a high-scoring affair.

Redshirt-senior outfielder Spencer Thornton hit a home run with two outs in the eighth to give the Aztecs their first lead since the third inning, and sophomore outfielder Tyler Adkison followed with a solo shot of his own to give SDSU the two-run lead that would end up as the deciding difference.

Freshman righty Chris Collins, who entered the game in the seventh inning, closed out the game with two strikeouts, earning his second win of the season. UNLV pitcher Tevita Gerber, who gave up the back-to-back home runs, was charged with the loss, his first of the season.

The Aztecs improved to 8-20 overall as well as 3-8 in conference. The Rebels fell to 12-18 overall with a 5-9 clip in the MW.

SDSU drew first blood in their first opportunity of the game after three straight hits ended with sophomore shortstop Alan Trejo singling in the first run of the game.Both sides traded runs from there on out, with no team leading by more than one run until the seventh inning, when UNLV scored three runs off of Collins to push the score to 7-3.

The Aztecs were down, but not out.

A pair of hits and a fielder’s choice to start off the bottom of the seventh lead to a sacrifice fly that scored Trejo, cutting the Rebels’ lead to 7-4. An RBI single and a walk later, sophomore designated hitter Justin Wylie came up to bat with two outs and the bases loaded, needing a big hit to bring the score to a tie.

And Wylie, whose three hits on the day raised his average to .310, delivered.

He ripped a ground ball past diving UNLV third baseman, Kyle Isbel, scoring two and tying up the game at 7-7 while setting the stage for Thornton and Adkison’s heroics the next inning.

“I thought we did a great job of managing at bats. We were patient, we didn’t try to do too much, it was just a testament to our guys seeking a pitch and jumping on it,” head coach Mark Martinez said. “It was more of the patience at the plate, and that’s a sign of maturity and a sign of a little bit more mental toughness.”

Thornton’s round tripper initially tied him for the team lead with Adkison at three, but Adkison took the lead once again in his at bat immediately after. The go ahead home run came after Thornton had struggled at the plate for the majority of the day. He was 0-for-4 before the big hit.

“You just got to trust that you’re gonna put a good swing on one eventually. I’ve trusted myself that I’m one swing away from putting a run on the board,” Thornton said. “I’m not worrying about the last at bat, it’s just worrying about trying to help us out right then.

“We need these wins, and we needed to show ourselves we could that. When we’re down, we come back through adversity and win the game and not give up. Every one of these wins counts.”

The original starter for the Aztecs, junior lefty Marcus Reyes, had one of his better outings of the season, going 5 2/3 innings with three strikeouts while allowing three earned runs. His counterpart on the Rebels, righthander Kenny Oakley, fared a bit better, going five innings while only giving up two earned runs.

Tomorrow the Aztecs will be sending redshirt-junior righty Cody Thompson to the mound against  UNLV right-hander Dean Kremer. Thompson (0-5, 6.32 ERA) will be looking for his first win of the season.  Barring a rain delay, the game is set to start at 1 p.m.