May 31, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The No. 2 seed UNLV Rebels used a pair of big innings and staved off elimination from the 2003 NCAA Tournament by thumping No. 4 seed Central Connecticut State 22-3 Saturday morning at Tempe Diablo Stadium in the Arizona State regional.
UNLV (46-16) recorded its best regional offensive performance in school history scoring 22 runs and tallying 25 hits in the lopsided victory. UNLV's previous best regional performance was 17 runs and 21 hits in a 17-10 win over Arizona State in the 1978 regional at Packard Stadium. ASU came back to eliminate the Rebels with a 30-5 victory.
UNLV advances within the loser's bracket and will face the loser of the Arizona State/New Mexico State game at 7 p.m. later tonight. The Rebels opened the regional falling to NMSU 14-12 in 11 innings.
The Rebels trailed 3-0 after three innings, but scored 22 unanswered runs en route to the victory. UNLV used an eight-run fourth inning and a 10-run sixth to put away the Blue Devils. Central Connecticut State was the first team eliminated from the Tempe regional, ending its 2003 season 31-17-2.
Junior left-handed starter Robbie Van recorded the victory for the Rebels, scattering four hits and three runs in five innings to improve to 9-4 on the year. UNLV head coach Jim Schlossnagle pulled Van after 80 pitches hoping to use him for a few inning if the Rebels advance to regional final on Sunday.
Central Connecticut State starter Barry Hertzler was roughed up for 11 runs four innings of work. The second-team Collegiate Baseball All-American gave up 13 hits to fall to 9-3 on the year. He entered the gam with a 1.52 ERA and was the NEC Pitcher of the Year.
Eight different Rebels, including seven starters and one late-inning substitution, recorded multi-hit games in the victory. Right fielder Eric Nielsen tied the UNLV postseason record with four hits, going 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Fernando Valenzuela bounced back from a 0-for-6 game against NMSU, going 3-for-6 with two RBI and three runs scored. Stephen Gutzman finished 2-for-4 and recorded four RBI to fall one short of the UNLV postseason record.
The Blue Devils were limited to six hits in the loss, with second baseman Keith Stegbauer going 2-for-4 and shortstop Dan Tarnowski finishing 2-for-3. CCSU made seven errors in its two NCAA Tournament losses.
Game Notes: The win for UNLV was its first in regional action since a 13-2 win over Jackson State in 1989 in College Station, Texas... the 25 hits and 22 runs were the most by a UNLV squad in postseason play since scoring 17 runs and tallying 21 hits vs. Arizona State (May 26, 1978)... the margin of victory (19 runs) is the biggest in postseason play for UNLV since beating Jackson State 13-2 (May 26, 1989)... Nielsen tied the UNLV record for hits in a postseason game with four (Gary White, 4 H, 5 RBI vs. ASU in 1978).