May 26, 2004
LAS VEGAS, Nevada - Behind a masterful pitching performance from Clayton Couch, sixth-seeded Air Force advanced to the second day of the 2004 Mountain West Conference Baseball Championships by snapping a 34-game losing streak with its 5-3 win over fourth-seeded BYU, Wednesday night at Earl E. Wilson Stadium. The Falcons play the loser of the UNLV-New Mexico game, Thursday at 7 p.m. PST.
Air Force (6-48, 0-28 MWC) also lost 13-9 to third-seeded UNLV (34-22, 20-10 MWC) earlier in the day.
Couch improved to 3-7 on the season, tossing a complete game five-hitter. The sophomore right-hander fanned seven and held BYU to just two base hits after the fourth inning. Losing pitcher was BYU starter Bryce Searle (2-2), who gave up three runs in 2.1 innings pitched.
The Falcons pushed across a run in the top of the first aided by a pair of walks by Searle to go up 1-0 against BYU. The Cougars came right back with two runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 2-1 lead.
AFA came back in the third, scoring two runs to re-take a 3-2 lead and knocking Searle out of the game. Josh Wolfram scored on a throwing error by third baseman Blair Lucas and Reid Lamson later scored on the tail end of a successful double steal.
The Falcons added two more in the top of the fourth on a throwing error by relief pitcher Joshua Barrett. With runners on second and third, Josh Wolfram hit a slow chopper down the first base line. Barrett slipped fielding the ball forcing him to hurry his throw which deflected off Wolfram, who was running down the first base line, allowing Travis Fugler and Nathan DeRohan to score.
BYU got a run back in the fourth on a passed ball to make it a 5-3 game.
For the next three innings, Couch and Barrett locked into a pitchers duel as Couch allowed just one hit in the three innings while Barrett allowed none.
The Falcons had the bases loaded with nobody out in the eighth inning but failed to score as BYU reliever Paul Jacinto bailed the Cougars out of a jam. But that didn't matter as Couch got Tim Law to ground out to first and then induced Adam Wilkes into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play in the ninth.
In game one, an eight-run first inning was the difference, as UNLV hung on to a 13-9 win.
Despite trailing 8-0 and 10-3, the Falcons rallied and came within three runs in the seventh inning when they trailed 12-9. But the Rebels added a run in the bottom of the seventh and reliever Shane Clatterbuck retired six consecutive Falcon batters in the eighth and ninth innings to close out the game.
UNLV starter Matt Wagner (3-4) earned the win, allowing seven runs on 10 hits in six innings pitched. Both teams had 13 hits in the game, with the Rebels stranding 13 runners on base. Falcon freshman Karl Bolt continued to swing a hot bat, going 3-for-5 with three RBI's and two runs scored. Junior Reid Lamson also had his best game as a Falcon, going 3-for-4 with a run and RBI.
UNLV sent 13 batters to the plate in the first inning, getting six hits--all singles--off of Air Force starter Paul Vignola (1-11) to jump out to a commanding 8-0 lead.
AFA added two more runs in the fourth inning to make it an 8-3 game. Jason Brown scored the first run on a throwing error by the left fielder on Karl Bolt's single. Bolt then scored on Travis Fugler's sacrifice fly to left.
UNLV came back in the bottom of the fourth, scoring four runs to make it a 12-3 game. The Rebels batted around for the second time in the game getting four hits.
The Falcons continued to battle, answering right back with two runs to cut the lead to a 12-5 game. Brent Tittle was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score Josh Wolfram for the first run and then Jon Polston came around to score on a groundout by Bolt.
Air Force wasn't finished as they pounded out five consecutive hits to score four runs in the top of the seventh to make it a 12-9 game. Reid Lamson, Brent Tittle, Jason Brown, Karl Bolt and Travis Fugler connected for hits in consecutive at-bats in the seventh.
After opening the game allowing six hits in the first inning and 12 through four innings, the Falcon pitching staff settled down to hold a potent UNLV offense to just one base hit in the final four innings.
Game 1 Notes: Paul Vignola makes his 15th start of the season for AFA... Blake Nixon made his 17th pitching appearance for the Falcons... Kyle DePierre faced 14 batters and allowed just one base hit in relief... Mitch Brown made his 19th appearance of the season for AFA... Blake Nixon made his 17th appearance... Bolt had his second three hit game and team-leading 15th multi-hit game of the season... Reid Lamson had a career-high three hits... Josh Wolfram and Bolt doubled for AFA.
Game 2 Notes: Clayton Couch made his 12th start of the season for AFA... Josh Wolfram stole his team-leading 15th and 16th bases of the season... Couch tied a career-high with seven strikeouts... Couch pitched his first complete-game and went a career-best nine innings.