By Christopher Moore
Being outplayed early and unable to sustain any type of rally, BYU was shocked by last-place UNLV 12-6 in the opening tilt of a three-game home series.
“It is such a well-used clich?, but we just have to win one game at a time,” downtrodden BYU coach Vance Law said.
“I’ve always said that this is a good team … We can’t expect to just show up and win.”
BYU had swept UNLV earlier this season, and might have taken the team for granted.
The Runnin’ Rebels entered the game with a shoddy 10-25 overall record, and were 3-10 in the Mountain West Conference. Suddenly, UNLV has a winning streak of four and is no longer the laughingstock of the league.
UNLV was undeterred against BYU and its loyal fans, scoring three runs in the first inning capped by a home run.
Cougar starter Jeff Stone was roughed up in his five-plus innings, giving up seven runs on eleven hits with a walk.
“I don’t believe that Jeff was entirely loose before the game started,” Law said.
“He had a rocky start, but we didn’t give him any help defensively. We played reasonably well — we just had too many miscues on the field.”
BYU committed four errors in the game. Most occurred during crucial situations.
Down five runs heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, the Cougars started to mount a comeback behind the play of their prize freshmen.
Kainoa Obrey, who leads the team in homeruns, hit a solo shot in the fifth to get BYU on the board. Obrey has hit seven homeruns this season.
Team hit leader Matt Carson hit a no-out, first-pitch grand slam in the sixth to bring the score to 7-5.
But even with the heroics of the first-year players, most of the BYU bats remained quiet.
Outfielder Nick Day, who has led the team in batting average, went 0-for-5 with a run scored. Leadoff man and designated hitter Cameron Coughlan was 0-for-4 at the plate.
UNLV wrapped up the victory with a ninth-inning grand slam by catcher Brad Beasley.
The Cougars had intentionally walked Adam Manley, hoping to force Beasley to hit into an inning-ending double play.
But it didn’t quite happen that way.
“The ball that went out of here today were legitimate, there weren’t any cheap ones today,” Law said.
Law said the team’s goal from now to the end of the season was to win the regular conference title before the Mountain West tournament.
“The tough road series (New Mexico and San Diego) are out of the way. We just need to take care of business at home,” Law said.
The Cougars are 22-18 overall and 10-6 in conference play.
BYU plays April 14 at 2 p.m. and will wrap up the series Saturday at noon.
The games will be broadcast on 1400 AM.