Jimmy Lambert became the first Fresno State pitcher in five seasons to start 10-0 as the Bulldogs walloped UNLV for a second straight day, beating the Rebels 7-2 Saturday in Las Vegas and securing a first-round bye in the Mountain West Tournament.
Lambert, a junior right-hander who this week was among 44 players who made the cut for National College Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher of the Year honors, pitched five-hit ball for seven innings, allowing one run while striking out five and walking two.
The Bulldogs (35-17, 21-8) have won 9 of 10 amid a battle for the conference lead and top seed with New Mexico (33-19, 18-8), which lost 17-11 to visiting Nevada on Saturday.
New Mexico trails Fresno State by 1.5 games. But because the Lobos swept the Bulldogs earlier in the year, New Mexico owns and tiebreaker edge over Fresno State and can capture the conference by winning their final four Mountain West games. The Bulldogs have one Mountain West contest remaining and must win and hope for at least one more Lobos defeat.
UNLV senior right-hander Kenny Oakley did Lambert one better through six scoreless innings, limiting Fresno State to three hits. A walk, steal and Justin Jones’ two-out RBI single, meanwhile, gave UNLV a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth.
The Bulldogs finally solved Oakley in the seventh, with a throwing error allowing Kevin Viers to reach with one out ahead of Jesse Medrano’s single. Viers moved to third on the hit, Medrano stole second and Korby Batesole drove in both with a single to left to make it 2-1.
7 hits for Fresno State in the final three innings, after just three through the first six, of Saturday’s 7-2 win at UNLV
Viers took over in the eighth, following Aaron Arruda’s RBI double and a walk to Austin Guibor with a three-run homer to left. Oakley absorbed it all, charged with six runs (four earned) in eight innings.
Fresno State and UNLV (22-28, 12-14) close out the series at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. It’s the final conference series of the season for the Bulldogs ahead of the conference tournament starting May 25 in Albuquerque, N.M.
The Rebels (at Nevada) and New Mexico (at Air Force) are among the teams with one more league series to play.
Fresno State will close the regular season with three against West Coast Conference club San Francisco beginning Thursday at Beiden Field at Bennett Stadium.
FRESNO STATE AT UNLV
- Sunday: 1:05 p.m. Earl E. Wilson Stadium in Las Vegas
- Records: Bulldogs 35-17, 21-8 Mountain West; Rebels 22-28, 12-14
- Radio: KFPT (AM 790)