SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Spartans bullpen pitched 8 1/3 innings of shutout ball and the SJSU bats came alive to score nine unanswered runs to beat UNLV 9-5 on Sunday.
By taking the rubber match, SJSU opened up Mountain West conference play with a series win for the first time since joining the conference for the 2014 baseball season.
Five San José State University relievers combined to allow only three hits and walk two batters to the high-powered UNLV offense after starter Graham Gomez was knocked out in the first inning.
The Rebels offense, which came into the game batting .313 as a team, jumped on Gomez quickly after the one hour rain delay to start the game. UNLV scored five runs on four hits, including a three-run homerun by left fielder Ernie De La Trinidad.
Then came the second rain delay just as the Spartans were coming to at-bat in the bottom of the first, which lasted 57 minutes.
After the delay, the Spartans fought back to erase the Rebels lead over two innings.
The score remained 5-0 UNLV until the fourth when Shane Timmons (1-for-3, HR, 3R, 2RBI, BB) blasted a two-run homerun to center. The Spartans tacked on another run in the inning on a Chris Williams (0-for-3, RBI) grounder to bring home Joseph Stefanki to cut UNLV’s lead to two runs.
In the bottom of the fifth, with one-out, the Spartans loaded the bases on back-to-back singles by Aaron Pleschner (3-for-4, 2R, RBI, BB) and Kellen Strahm (2-for-5, R) followed by a walk to Timmons.
Stefanki (1-for-2, R, 3RBI, 2BB), riding a six game hitting streak, smacked a bases clearing triple down the left field line against Rebels lefty Tevita Gerber to put the Spartans up 6-5.
It was a lead the Spartans would not relinquish as SJSU sprung together the quintet of relievers, Cameron Keup, Zach Tanner, Josh Goldberg, Hilario Tovar and Joseph Balfour to shut down UNLV in another strong showing by the pen.
For the season, Tanner, Tovar and Balfour have yet to allow a run over 16 innings of combined work with Goldberg having a 1.08 ERA over 8 1/3 innings and Keup with a 1.35 ERA in 6 2/3 innings.
Goldberg picked up his second win of the season pitching a scoreless fifth and six innings. UNLV’s Gerber (0-3) took the loss. Spartans are now 5-5 overall (2-1 MW) on the season and the Rebels are 5-7 overall (1-2 MW).
The Spartans return to non-conference action to play Pacific on Tuesday, March 7 at Municipal Stadium. First pitch is 7:00 p.m. PT.