UNLV 9 on cloud nine
Also: Championship powerhouses and tournament firsts
The Runnin’ Rebels are off and running.
The UNLV baseball team stretched its winning streak to nine games by sweeping No. 9 Stanford in a three-game series this past weekend at Sunken Diamond. It is the first time since 2011 that Stanford has lost a home series, when the Cardinal were swept by Oregon State.
“We have been looking forward to this series all season and we were really excited to go out and play on Friday against a really good pitcher,” UNLV senior outfielder/RHP Mark Shannon said. “On Saturday we just looked to win the series and on Sunday we had a lot of momentum and were able to sweep them.”
The Rebels' pitching staff was solid in all three games. On Friday, despite a career-high 15 strikeouts from Stanford All-American Mark Appel, UNLV hung on to claim a 3-2 victory with the help of reliever Brady Zuniga. Zuniga earned his second save of the season after surrendering one hit and striking out four batters in three scoreless innings pitched.
Junior right-hander Buddy Borden went 6.1 innings on Saturday, holding the Cardinal to two runs on seven hits with six strikeouts as the Rebels' offense exploded in a 12-2 victory. Again, the bullpen was excellent as freshman Kenny Oakley struck out five batters in 2.2 innings of scoreless relief.
UNLV sophomore John Richy closed out the series with a brilliant performance, tossing a complete-game two-hitter en route to a 5-1 victory. Richy kept the game close as it was tied 1-1 in the seventh before the Rebels put up four runs for the eventual victory.
“We feel like every day we have a chance to be in every ball game,” UNLV head coach Tim Chambers said. “We feel our pitching staff is going to be there and give us a chance. We pitched extremely well this weekend as all of our pitchers went into the seventh.”
The Rebels have posted a 2.48 ERA through 16 games this season -- a marked improvement from last year’s staff that compiled a 5.06 ERA as UNLV went 26-31.
“Stanford is a good team and a good program and we could have easily been 1-2 but we were able to hold them and get all three,” Chambers said.
UNLV will ride its longest winning streak since 2000 into a Tuesday tilt at Cal State Bakersfield before returning home to play host to New Mexico to open Mountain West Conference play on Friday.
“Everyone is living on cloud nine right now, but we know that this is a long season and we have a lot of work left to do,” Shannon said.
• It came down to the last race of the meet, but the Oregon women’s track and field team rallied to capture its fourth consecutive NCAA indoor national title Saturday at the Randal Tyson Center. The Ducks secured the victory by winning their only event of the championships, clocking a school-record 3 minutes, 30.22 seconds in the 4x400-meter relay behind a stellar performance from the team of English Gardner, Chizoba Okodogbe, Laura Roesler and Phyllis Francis. Oregon is only the second team in NCAA history to win four consecutive indoor titles. LSU also accomplished the feat between 1993-97.
• The Colorado ski team clawed its way back from a 54-point deficit Saturday in Middlebury, Vt., as the Buffaloes claimed their 19th national championship in skiing, including their seventh coed title. Senior Joanne Reid sparked the Buffs in the comeback, winning the women’s 15-kilometer race with a time of 38:17.8. It was Reid’s final collegiate race, and a fitting conclusion. Reid's mother, Olympic speed-skating gold-medalist Beth Heiden, won the cross-country skiing title for Vermont in 1983, which was the first year the NCAA sponsored women's skiing.
|WINTER CHAMPIONSHIP COVERAGE|
|Denotes completed championships only|
|• DI Women's Indoor Track & Field|
|• DII Women's Indoor Track & Field|
|• DIII Women's Indoor Track & Field|
|• DII Men's Indoor Track & Field|
|• DII Men's Indoor Track & Field|
|• DIII Men's Indoor Track & Field|
|• DII Women's Swimming & Diving|
|• DII Men's Swimming & Diving|
|• Men's and Women's Skiing|
|• Men's and Women's Rifle|
|• Division II Wrestling|
"It feels amazing," Reid said. "My mom's got connections here, she can do what she wants, so I saw her at the finish line and it was great. It's cool that we have both now won NCAA individual titles. Especially because every time I go skiing with here, they just list all her awards so now I have one that she has. I just need a few more world championships in other sports now to catch up."
• The No. 5 Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team claimed its first California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament title after defeating Chico State 78-64 on Saturday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. Senior guard Michel Anderson notched his 12th double-double of the season, scoring 15 points with 12 rebounds as the Broncos became the first CCAA team to win the regular-season title outright and the conference tournament in the same year since UC Riverside in 1994. CPP improved to 27-2, just one victory shy of matching the school record for most victories in a season.
• Arizona junior distance-runner Lawi Lalang had a busy day Saturday, winning both the Division I indoor track and field titles in the mile and the 3,000 meters in the span of less than two hours. Lalang first ran an NCAA-meet record and personal-best 3:55.33 to claim the mile, and in just an hour and 45 minutes later, he returned to the track to defend his title in the 3,000 meters. He again set a meet record, winning the race with a time of 7:45.94. He is the first athlete to pull off the dual victory since Washington State’s Bernard Lagat in 1999.
• Stony Brook junior right-hander Frankie Vanderka tossed his second career no-hitter, shutting out Fordham 2-0 in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday. A native of Levittown, N.Y., Vanderka fanned six batters and walked three in nine innings in a game that was scheduled for seven innings. Vanderka, who helped the Seawolves make an unprecedented run to the College World Series last season, also threw a no-hitter at NJIT in 2011.
• Wisconsin-Eau Claire knocked off No. 1 St. Norbert in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III men’s hockey championship, as the No. 4 Blugolds advanced to the national semifinals for the first time in school history with a 3-1 victory Saturday. It was the fifth meeting between the two teams this season, and the third victory for the Blugolds. It will be the first time since 2009 the two-time defending NCAA champion Green Knights will not compete in the NCAA semifinals.
• The Williams College women’s basketball team downed Whitman College 63-53 in the NCAA Division III quarterfinals Saturday to advance to the national semifinals for the first time in program history. Danny Rainer netted a career-high 22 points as she and the Ephs improved to 26-2 on the season, setting a program record for victories. Williams will join fellow New England Small College Athletic Conference member Amherst in the national semifinals. Amherst is making its fifth consecutive appearance after defeating Widener 59-45 on Saturday. Williams is the only team this season to have beaten Amherst (30-1). The conference foes are not matched up in the semifinals. Amherst will take on Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Williams will face undefeated DePauw on Friday in Holland, Mich.
• While Nebraska-Kearney won its second consecutive team title at the Division II wrestling championships this past weekend, Notre Dame (Ohio) made quite a showing in its first appearance as a DII program. The Falcons placed third in the team competition behind individual titles from 174-pounder Eric Burgey and 165-pounder Joey Davis. Davis, the top-ranked freshman from Compton, Calif., capped off a 30-0 campaign by downing Nebraska-Kearney’s Chase Nelson 7-5. Nelson, a senior, was ranked No. 2 in the nation.
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
|.429||The Liberty University men’s basketball team may have 20 losses on the season, but those are all in the past. The Flames (15-20) are currently on fire, winning five consecutive games, including four Big South Conference tournament contests, en route to snagging the league trophy and an NCAA tournament automatic bid. The Flames’ .429 winning percentage is the lowest for an NCAA tournament team since Oakland (Mich.) entered the postseason with a 12-18 (.400) mark in 2005.|
|12||The Saint Augustine’s men’s track and field team won the program’s 12th NCAA indoor crown -- all under head coach George Williams' tutelage -- on the strength of the Falcons’ sprinting prowess. The Falcons were led by three individual champions: Moussa Dembele in the 60-meter hurdles, Dane Hyatt in the 400 meters and Jermaine Jones in the 200 meters.|
|17||Minnesota senior goaltender Noora Räty notched a 2-0 shutout against North Dakota in the finals of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship, garnering tournament MVP honors and collecting her 17th shutout of the season. Räty, who has shutout opponents in her past five games, already owns the NCAA record for career shutouts (43) and single-season shutouts (17).|
|20||The Arkansas men’s track and field team claimed its NCAA-record 20th indoor title, knocking off three-time defending champion Florida, who finished in second place. The Razorbacks’ 74 points were the most scored by an NCAA indoor champion since 1994.|
|63-0.75||Oklahoma redshirt senior Tia Brooks concluded the NCAA indoor track and field season by throwing a women’s collegiate and NCAA championship-record mark of 63-0.75/19.22 meters to win the shot put Saturday. She is the first woman in NCAA history to surpass the 63-foot barrier. Brooks defended her title in the event, and claimed her third consecutive NCAA crown in the shot put after she won the competition at both the indoor and outdoor championship meets in 2012.|
|700||Coastal Carolina head baseball coach Gary Gilmore won his 700th game at the helm of the Chanticleers’ program with a 3-1 defeat of Ohio State on Sunday. He is the 23rd active coach in Division I to win 700 games at one school, and boasts a 700-350 record in his 18th season at his alma mater.|
• The No. 4 Boston University women’s hockey team topped Northeastern 4-2, on Sunday to win the program’s second consecutive Hockey East title, and third in the past four years. The Terriers also claimed an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. With the bid, BU’s senior class became the first in program history to advance to the NCAA tournament all four years.
• The No. 15 Hofstra men’s lacrosse team handed No. 2 Notre Dame its first loss of the season, edging the Irish 8-7 on Saturday in South Bend, Ind. The Irish were the highest-ranked opponent the Pride has beaten since topping No. 1 Johns Hopkins in 2008.
• The No. 8 Tennessee women’s softball team posted back-to-back victories against No. 1 Alabama on Friday and Saturday, marking the first time since 2007 the Lady Vols have upended a No. 1 team in consecutive games and earning a series win to open Southeastern Conference play. The Crimson Tide avoided the sweep with a 7-1 victory Sunday.
• The Florida Gulf Coast men’s basketball team clinched its first NCAA Division I tournament berth in school history in the Eagles’ second year of postseason eligibility by knocking off Atlantic Sun regular-season champion Mercer 88-75 in the league championship game Saturday.
• The No. 6 Western Washington women’s basketball team claimed its first Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament title, topping No. 10 Simon Fraser in the championship game Saturday. The Vikings extended their winning streak to eight games behind senior forward Trishi Williams, who posted 16 points, six steals and five assists in a tournament MVP performance.
• In its first opportunity to compete in the NCAA Division II postseason, the Academy of Art women’s track and field team went for the gold and got it, winning the national championship at the Winter Festival in Birmingham, Ala. Senior Vashti Thomas won the long jump on Friday and claimed the 200 meters with a school-record 23.43 to lead the Urban Knights to the title.
• The Morrisville State men’s basketball team earned its second upset victory in the NCAA Division III tournament, upending No. 13 Rhode Island College 66-61 in overtime Saturday to advance to the round of 16. The Mustangs upset No. 15 Ramapo College in first-round action for their firs NCAA postseason victory.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy