Nevada’s (30-26) run in the Mountain West championships came to an end on Saturday afternoon after intrastate rival UNLV (29-28) hit a walkoff bomb in the ninth inning to defeat the Wolf Pack 6-5. Nevada’s Conor Allard tied the game in the seventh inning with a solo shot, but the Rebel’s Max Smith homered on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the ninth to advance UNLV to the championship against Fresno State.
The Pack totaled 12 hits on the afternoon, tied with the Rebels, with the team-high of three coming from Allard and Weston Hatten. Allard led the way with two RBI, including his second-career homer that tied the game at five.
The game opened in Nevada’s favor, as Allard smacked his first RBI of the day to drive in Joshua Zamora for the 1-0 lead. UNLV responded immediately by plating three runs courtesy of five singles.
Nevada bounced back in the third frame, as sophomore Tyler Bosetti drilled a double to score Hatten and cut the deficit to one. Jaylon McLaughlin continued his brilliant season by driving in Allard to tie the game, and a groundout by Daniel Perry brought Bosetti home for the 4-3 Pack lead.
The Pack again couldn’t hold the lead through the rest of the inning, as UNLV came right back as a two-RBI double by Austin Pfeifer gave the Rebels another 5-4 lead which it would hold onto until the seventh.
Allard was the hero for the moment, as his solo shot over the left-field fence tied the game at seven. That tie was only broken when Smith ended the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Jake Jackson pitched the first 3.1 innings for Nevada when the Rebels scored their first five runs, but the combination of Shane Gustafson and Bradley Bonnenfant combined for 4.1 scoreless innings after that, striking out four Rebels and only allowing five hits. Bonnenfant suffered the loss, allowing Smith’s homer in the ninth.
Nevada was one win away from playing for the MW championship, the farthest it has advanced in the tournament since 2016. That same year was the last time the Pack reached 30 wins before this season.
The Wolf Pack opened the tournament with a 4-3 loss to Fresno State before bouncing back in an elimination game to top San Diego State, 6-4. Fresno went on to claim the tourney title and advance to the NCAA tourney with an 11-1 win over UNLV in the finals.