On Tuesday, the 12-26 (3-15) University of California, Riverside (UCR) Highlanders hosted the 23-20 (10-14) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Rebels of the Mountain West Conference. Exactly one week before this game, the two teams played each other in Las Vegas. In that match, the Rebels lit up the scoreboard against the Highlanders until the game was ended prematurely via mercy rule.

UCR’s pitching would continue to be an issue. Following the game against UNLV, the Highlanders hosted the No. 12 ranked UC Irvine (UCI) Anteaters in conference play. In the three game series, the Anteaters scored a combined 42 runs as the Highlanders were swept at home.

UCR Baseball via Sumaya Khoury

After the home series against UCI, the Highlanders lost four straight games on the bounce. The smallest margin of defeat was eight runs in those four games. The Highlanders needed to show some fight in the rematch against UNLV before conference play picked up again.

In the first inning, UNLV’s graduate designated hitter Austin Kryszczuk and junior outfielder Cole Koniarsky of the Highlanders traded solo home runs. In the top of the second, Rebels junior shortstop Brendan O’Sullivan knocked another solo home run over the left field wall.

The early runs were a sign of things to come. The Highlanders propelled themselves into the lead after a flurry of hits in the bottom of the second. It also helped that senior pitcher Noah Carbajal of the Rebels struggled with his accuracy in the long inning. Juniors Jayden Lopez and Bubba Rocha were hit by the former Long Beach State pitcher. A two runs batted in (RBI) double from junior shortstop Zachary Chamizo followed up by an RBI single from Koniarsky capped off a five run inning for the Highlanders.

UCR Baseball via Sumaya Khoury

Carbajal finished the rough inning, but he was relieved immediately after. UNLV’s relievers did a really good job of neutralizing the Highlanders offense. Notably, freshman pitcher Dylan Rogers threw three shutout innings without giving up a hit. With the Rebels bullpen shutting down the Highlanders, it was up to the UCR pitching and defense to see out the game.

The Highlanders got off to a great start defensively in the third inning. Rebels junior third baseman Isaac Rodriguez was picked off at first to end the inning early. With all the momentum on their side, UCR held a tight grip on this game. However, in the next few innings, the game would start to slip away.

First, junior outfielder Kade Higgins scored on a sac fly in the fourth. Then, Higgins earned a walk with the bases loaded in the fifth. After a two RBI single from senior outfielder Alex Pimental, the game was tied at six a piece. Before the Highlanders were out of the inning, Higgins scored on another sac fly to take the lead back.

While the Rebels were heating up, the UCR bats went cold. Rogers was followed up by Junior Albert Roblez. Roblez, a former Riverside City College Tigers pitcher, threw another shutout inning before being relieved. In the seventh, Pimental cranked the ball over the fence. His three run home run extended the Rebels lead to four.

Highlanders junior third baseman Rudy Rodriguez IV hit a solo home run in the eighth inning, but three runs from the Rebels in the ninth put the game out of reach. Senior pitcher Matthew Maloney closed out a 13-7 victory for the visitors.

With the loss, the Highlanders dropped to 12-27 (3-15). UCR will stay at home and host a weekend series against Cal State Bakersfield. In their remaining games, the Highlanders will need to keep their opponents off the scoreboard. They can’t expect to win many more games consistently giving up double-digit runs.