Updated May 26, 2022 - 9:16 pm
Catcher Braydon Altorfer hit a home run and drove in four runs and Air Force held on for a 5-2 victory over the top-seeded Rebels in the first round of the Mountain West baseball tournament Thursday in San Diego.
The defeat moves UNLV moves into the loser’s bracket, where they will play UNR at 1:30 p.m. Friday. A loss to the Wolf Pack would knock them out of the double-elimination tournament.
The Rebels’ only hits came from Diego Alarcon, Joey Walls and Eric Bigani. Their two runs came in the ninth inning when Edarian Williams scored on a fielding error after walking and Josh Sharman scored on a Alarcon’s RBI single.
Altorfer went 2 for 4, including a two-run homer in the fourth inning.
Air Force starter Paul Skenes (10-2) allowed two hits in seven innings while striking out 10 and walking four. UNLV starter Noah Mattera (5-1) gave up all five runs in 4⅓ innings while allowing three hits, striking out seven and walking four.
Conference honors Stolte
UNLV’s Stan Stolte was named Mountain West Coach of the Year, and designated hitter Santino Panara shared the conference’s top freshman honor.
The Rebels also placed sophomores Rylan Charles and Austin Kryszczuk and senior Hank Zeisler on the Mountain West’s first team. Seniors Diego Alarcon and Edarian Williams made the second team.
UNLV won the conference’s regular-season championship under Stolte, and led the nation in hits (702), doubles (142) and batting average (.331).
Panaro shared Freshman of the Year with San Diego State’s Irvin Weems after batting .362 with 27 RBIs.
Charles (.392), Kryszczuk (.342) and Zeisler (.399) all batted well above .300, with Charles also driving in 46 runs and Kryszczuk and Zeisler combining for 26 home runs. Kryszczuk also had 58 RBIs.
Alarcon hit .351 with 52 RBIs, and Williams batted .320 with 67 RBIs.
Senior pitcher Josh Ibarra was named honorable mention after going 11-2 with a 5.53 ERA.