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Rebels sweep Lobos, inch closer to first in Mountain West 

Joey Armstrong fouls a ball off against New Mexico on Saturday April 26, 2014 at Earl E. Wilson Stadium. DANIEL WARD/THE REBEL YELL

 
The story couldn’t have been scripted any better as the UNLV baseball team (28-15 overall, 16-8 Mountain West) swept Mountain West conference leader No. 24 New Mexico this weekend at Earl E. Wilson Stadium.

The series win marks the first time the Rebels have won two series in the same season and five-out-of-six from New Mexico since 2004.

“We came out swinging in all three games,” said third baseman T.J. White. “I guess you could say we were seeing [the baseball] like a beach ball.”

Friday saw the lowest scoring total of the weekend for UNLV, an 11-2 victory. The Rebels jumped out early, scoring six runs in the first inning before UNM’s starter John Cuellar recorded his first out.

Joey Armstrong hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning for their second of the year each, and Justin Jones hit his third of the year in the seventh. VanMeetren had his best performance of the season, going 4-for-4 with two RBI while scoring two runs.

In all, UNLV tallied 18 hits, led by VanMeetren and White with four each.

On the mound, Erick Fedde (8-2, 1.76 ERA) was dominant once again, going 6.2 innings, allowing nine hits while striking out seven. His eighth year tops the conference.

“I said last week that I wouldn’t want to be the one to face Fedde on Friday night,” said head coach Tim Chambers. “After what happened last week, he was ready.”

Saturday was more of the same offensively, this time with UNLV pulling out the easy 14-6 victory and clinching a series win they desperately needed.

Joey Armstrong fouls a ball off against New Mexico on Saturday April 26, 2014 at Earl E. Wilson Stadium. DANIEL WARD/THE REBEL YELL

Joey Armstrong fouls a ball off against New Mexico on Saturday April 26, 2014 at Earl E. Wilson Stadium. DANIEL WARD/THE REBEL YELL

Patrick Armstrong started the scoring with a solo shot in the second to make it 1-0. After a four-run fourth inning, Stotts led off the fifth with his first career home run.

UNM cut the lead to three in the seventh, but Matt McCallister hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to put the lead back at five.

Patrick Armstrong hit his second homerun of the game in the home half of the eighth inning, driving in two more runs.

John Richy (7-3) threw his second straight complete game. He allowed six runs on eight hits while striking out nine.

Sunday was perhaps the most dominant display the Rebels have shown all season.

Patrick Armstrong hit a two-run double to center in the third. The Rebels tacked on three more in the fourth to increase their lead to 5-0.

After three runs scored to open up the sixth inning, the Rebels had the bases-loaded with no outs. Stotts stepped to the plate, and took the second pitch he saw over right field for the grand slam. It was the junior’s second home run of his career and it came in as many days.

Nine UNLV players recorded at least one hit out of the 21 they had collectively. It was the highest hit total of the season so far

Bonnell (5-3), who claimed New Mexico would be in for a “rude awakening” last week, pitched a gem the rest of the way, throwing 7.2 innings and allowing one run Bonnell dropped his ERA from 2.25 to 2.15.

“Personally, it was great to get a second opportunity at these guys,” said Bonnell. “They’re our bitter rivals.”

UNLV scored 39 runs on 55 hits in the series while allowing 10 runs and striking out 18 Lobos.

The Rebels were four games back from New Mexico, and they now find themselves one game out with six games remaining. Although the two seeds get a bye and home-field in the tournament, a regular season title is on UNLV’s mind.

“Everybody got a little bit of extra work in this week,” said Stotts. “We came out early and stayed late and everyone was ready for this.”

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