Hustlin’ Rebels bullpen can’t hold on for win against the Arizona Sun Devils

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Santino Panaro warming up at Las Vegas Ballpark. Photo Courtesy of UNLV Athletics.

The Hustlin’ Rebels were defeated 6-2 by the Arizona State Sun Devils during the seasonal primetime game played at Las Vegas Ballpark, home of the Las Vegas Aviators. With the loss, the Rebels fell to 7-14, and Arizona State moved to 17-8 with the win.

The week’s game featured a pitching matchup between the Rebels right-hander Noah Carabajal 0-3 and the Sun Devils right-hander Josh Hansell 1-0. 

Hansell and Carabajal both made their first starts of the season at the Las Vegas Ballpark as they seem to have proven to the coaching staff with their prior relief outings that they were up for the challenge for the matchup.

This was a bullpen game for both the Sun Devils and the Hustlin’ Rebels as the Rebels entered the game from being swept by the Fresno State Bulldogs and the Sun Devils a series sweep against the Arizona Wildcats.

Hansell had not performed to the best of his ability at the beginning of the season, but he began to find his stride in his more recent starts. Such as his most recent game against the Grand Canyon University Lopes in which he brought his ERAfrom well over a four down to 3.48.

Hansell pitched two innings against the Lopes and allowed only two hits while striking out three allowing zero runs to come across. 

In Carabajal’s last outing, he faced off against the Fresno State Bulldogs lineup and did not have as successful of an outing as he would have liked. He conceded two runs on two hits while also walking three batters in just an inning and a third. 

However, despite that outing, Carabajal is one of the more heavily relied-upon arms in the UNLV bullpen which is why he received the call to start the game. 

With the game being played at Las Vegas Ballpark it allowed for more fans to be in on Rebel baseball thus giving the players an opportunity to play in a much different atmosphere than they normally would expect at Earl E. Wilson Stadium. 

The game started with a very evenly played first couple of innings despite this matchup depending on the bullpen on each side of the ball. 

Although there was little offense in the first few innings, it was the Hustlin’ Rebels that would take the initial lead in the bottom of the first, capitalizing on a two-out rally. 

Designated hitter, Alex Pimentel, would line a triple into right-center to bring a runner into scoring position before he later scored on a wild pitch to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead. 

Besides the run scored on the wild pitch, it was the relievers who started the game that controlled the tempo of many of the at-bats, limiting some if any damage that was seen on the defensive side of the baseball. 

Carabajal entered this start with an ERA above six and went on to pitch five consecutive scoreless innings while also recording five strikeouts. 

It was not until the sixth inning that both offenses were finally able to put more runs on the scoreboard and the first team to do that was the Sun Devils. 

With a combination of Carabajal coming into the sixth inning tired and the Sun Devils figuring out his pitch selection, they were able to knock him out of the game with four consecutive batters reaching as well as two runs coming across to score on a triple off the bat of Jacob Tobias. 

Into the game came reliever Zac Simon who was tasked with limiting the damage in the top of the sixth which he was able to do by recording three outs, but not before Arizona State would score a third run on a sacrifice fly to the center making it a 3-1 lead for the Sun Devils. 

In the bottom of the sixth inning it was a partial retaliation by the Hustlin’ Rebels as two straight hits by both Santino Panaro and Pimentel put runners into scoring position for Austin Kryszczuk. 

Kryszczuk was able to bring one of the runs home off a sacrifice fly to the center, but that was all that was in the bottom of the inning as UNLV pulled back to within one 3-2. 

Consistent pitching continued to be the key for the Sun Devils as the bullpen would relieve Hansell of his duties and continue applying the pressure to UNLV batters. 

Eventually, the Rebels’ fate was sealed in the top of the seventh inning when Nick Rupp took the mound and Nu’u Contrades stepped into the batter’s box. 

Contrades swung at the first pitch he saw with the runner on base stealing and hit a towering blast over the right-center field wall giving the Sun Devils a 5-2 lead. 

Despite the Rebels’ efforts, they were eventually defeated by a score of 6-2 as the bats could not match the output of the Sun Devils’ bullpen. 

The Rebels, who were picked to win the Mountain West Division to begin the season, continue to falter early on, dropping to a record of 7-15.

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