UNLV opened its season by hosting Central Michigan for four games and lost three of them. Central Michigan won the MAC last year, made a Regional and competed pretty well with both Miami and Mississippi State, so the Chippewas are not a disastrous loss for the Rebels.
Cleanup hitting catcher/designated hitter Eric Bigani is swinging the hot bat after one week: .389 with four of his seven hits going for extra bases, three doubles and a triple. Among regulars, the only other one above .300 is first baseman Jack-Thomas Wold at .308.
Alex Sardina is an interesting case. He got pinch-hit hits in game one and game three, with a two-strikeout game in between, then started the final game and went 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. Another name of note is second baseman Edarian Williams, the leadoff hitter and a preseason Mountain West All-Conference selection. He hit .278 over opening weekend with a triple, but he struck out seven times, which was remains the team high.
The projected starting rotation is senior righty Ryan Hare (preseason All-Mountain West selection), senior righty Chase Maddux and freshman lefty Josh Sharman.
Hare had a rough start to his 2020 — 2 1/3 innings two hits, five walks and four runs allowed, all four runs earned — but he was an All-Mountain West selection for a reason. He held a 1.097 WHIP and 3.52 ERA over 79 1/3 innings last year, and the 2.723 walks per nine innings wasn’t half bad, either. Don’t let his current 15.43 ERA fool you; he’s a respectable pitcher.
Chase Maddux (yes, the son of legendary pitcher Greg Maddux) had a much better start to his season: two earned runs allowed over five innings, even if a little heavy on baserunners allowed with four hits, two walks and a hit by pitch. But he did throw 83 pitches in his first start, so if he has it rolling, it seems he’ll be given freedom to go deeper than you’d expect of a starter this early in the season.
Sharman also had a rough first outing: five hits and four walks allowed in four innings.
The bullpen was not particularly impressive against Central Michigan: it allowed 24 of the 38 runs the Chippewas scored in the four games. As to be expected this early in the season, the numbers are still a little strange: there are pitchers such as Tallon Thomason and Ty Pohlmann that have 0.00 ERAs but allowed a combined three hits and four walks over 3 1/3 innings, and then there’s Bradley Spooner with a 1.29 WHIP but a 10.80 ERA.
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