CEDAR CITY, Utah - Southern Utah hosted familiar opponent UNLV Tuesday in one of the team’s final nonconference games of the season. The Thunderbirds built up a sizable lead after an early offensive outburst then thwarted the Rebels attempted comeback for a 13-11 victory.
Redshirt sophomore Adam Dell turned in a solid start for Southern Utah as he held UNLV scoreless through the first four innings and surrendered just four runs in six innings of work. Head Coach Dave Eldredge spoke about the performance of the young pitcher, “After our series with South Dakota State this past weekend we didn’t have a lot of arms available. For Adam to step up and pitch the way he did was huge. He gave us the innings we needed to win this game.”
The Thunderbirds wasted no time putting runs on the board as Tyson Weber led off the game with a double to deep center field and then scored when Bo Cuthbertson hit a deep shot to straight center for his team best fifth homerun of the season. The round-tripper also gave the switch-hitting shortstop his conference leading thirty-sixth RBI of the season and SUU a 2-0 advantage.
The Southern Utah lineup continued to hit the ball well throughout the game as the T-Birds offense put up runs in almost every inning.
In the bottom of the second Taylor Shaw drove in David Ricker and Weber with a left field single to make it a 4-0 game in favor of SUU. The next inning Shaw helped the team pick up two more runs when with the bases loaded he hit a slow roller towards the shortstop who charged the ball in an attempt to save a run, but instead let it sneak past him into left field allowing two more runs to score. Catcher Taggart Lunceford would also pick up an RBI in the inning to extend the Thunderbird lead to seven.
Lunceford was back at it again in the fourth as he drove an RBI double to the gap in left center field to score Mitchell Kauweloa from second. With Kevin Nay’s sacrifice fly earlier in the inning the Thunderbirds took a 9-0 lead after four.
UNLV would finally get on the board with a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth. The Rebels then went on an offensive tear scoring ten runs on eleven hits in the final three innings.
Southern Utah has struggled to close out games this year due largely to the fact that it has yet to find a consistent relief pitcher. Fortunately for SUU the offense finished the game strong. The Thunderbird lineup continued to produce putting up four key hits in the final two innings, none of which were bigger than Kauweloa’s two run homerun in the bottom of the seventh. The T-Birds added another run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Tyson Weber in the eighth to take a 13-7 lead into the final inning.
The Rebels refused to go quietly as they continued to rack up hit after hit until Coach Eldredge was forced to make a pitching change just to record the final out. Cuthberston moved to the mound from shortstop and got a batter to fly out to right to cut the UNLV rally short and ending the game with the T-Birds on top 13-11.
With the win Southern Utah improves its overall mark to 17-21 on the year. The Thunderbirds will resume conference play this weekend as they host the Leathernecks of Western Illinois. The two teams will play a four game series starting Thursday at 3 p.m. followed by a doubleheader Friday, with the finale scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. Southern Utah has announced that Saturday’s game will be a “White Out”, and is encouraging fans to wear white to the game. White SUU baseball shirts will be available at local sponsor Hillsports for just $5.