Aztecs force winner-take-all Mountain West tourney finale

UNLV’s hopes of claiming its first Mountain West baseball tournament since 2005 were put on hold Saturday night courtesy of San Diego State freshman Brett Seeburger.

The lefthander from Vista High School in Oceanside, Calif., who had started just two games this season and entered the game with a 6.31 ERA, showed why national powers like Cal State Fullerton, Oregon State and Oregon recruited him by limiting the Rebels to seven hits and one run over 8 1/3 innings while helping lead San Diego State (41-19) to a 9-1 victory at Earl E. Wilson Stadium.

The win by the Aztecs, who eliminated Nevada with a 3-2 win in 10 innings earlier Saturday in the double-elimination tourney, sets up a winner-takes-all rematch on Sunday at 1 p.m. for the Mountain West’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid.

The 6-foot-1 Seeburger (4-0) did an excellent job of keeping the Rebels guessing with a good curve and change-up mixed in with a good fastball.

“We couldn’t make the adjustments,” UNLV coach Tim Chambers said. “The lefty kind of had us off-balanced a little bit. We really didn’t make the adjustments to his change-up and his breaking ball. But the tournament is still going on. We’ll show up tomorrow.”

UNLV (35-22), coming in with major momentum thanks to a dramatic 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Aztecs late Friday night, took a 1-0 lead in the second on a two-out RBI single by DH A.J. Hernandez that drove in catcher Erik VanMeetren.

But it was all Aztecs and Seeburger after that.

Center fielder Greg Allen went 3-for-5, scored three runs and drove in two more, including a two-run single that broke a 1-1 tie and highlighted a four-run inning in the fourth for the Aztecs.

Seeburger took over from there, limiting UNLV to just three infield singles and three walks until the ninth inning when he gave up two more singles before giving way to Cody Thompson who got the final two outs.

Seeburger left after throwing 132 pitches, including 81 strikes. He struck out six and walked four.
Ironically, Seeburger almost had to be used in relief in San Diego State’s first game win over Nevada.

“He was getting hot in the bullpen in that first game,” Chambers said. “He was up and throwing and got hot because I was down there watching him. Then he rested for an hour after getting warmed up. You’ve got to tip your cap to him. They played well.”

Chambers said he wasn’t sure who would start the finale, the Rebels’ fourth game in four days. San Diego State, meanwhile, will be playing its sixth game since Wednesday and third in less than a 24-hour span.

“We’ve got some guys that can will still go,” Chambers said. “I’m guessing they’re going to use more than one arm tomorrow. The bottom line is we’re going to have to swing the bats better. … We’ll show up tomorrow and play well.”

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