LAS VEGAS, Nv. – UTEP hit three home runs and turned another double play but it wasn’t enough as the Miners (1-6) fell to Nevada, 6-2, and Boise State, 8-2, on Friday during the first day of the Marucci Desert Classic.
UTEP will continue the weekend against New Mexico (11:15 a.m. PT) and host UNLV (3:45 p.m. PT) on Saturday. The Miners and Rebels will play at Eller Media Stadium.
UTEP 2, Nevada 6
Pamala Baber connected on her first home run of her sophomore campaign and Courtney Clayton tallied an RBI double, but Nevada, behind a strong pitching performance from freshman Julia Jensen, defeated UTEP, 6-2, in the early game on Friday.
Clayton now has 39 career doubles and now tied for third with Amber Bennett on the program’s all-time list.
Jensen threw a complete game, allowing two runs, walking five and striking out seven. The Wolf Pack offense was paced by Kenzi Goins and her five RBI. She finished 2-for-4 that included a two-run home run in the third inning.
With the score 6-0, Clayton put her squad on the board when she drove in pinch-runner Ariel Blair in the fifth inning. Blair pinch ran for freshman Ariana Valles, who singled up the middle. Blair stole second to put herself in scoring position. Following the run, Cortney Smith drew a walk as Clayton advanced to second, but the Miners couldn’t sustain more offense in the frame.
Baber blasted a solo home run over center it the sixth inning to make the score 6-2. The Miners had a pair of runners on in the bottom seventh after Kaitlin Ryder singled and Smith drew a walk, but Jensen struck out the final batter to end the contest.
Starting hurler Kira McKechnie (1-2) made the start, throwing 3.0 innings and striking out two, and Devyn Cretz finished the contest, tossing 4.0 frames. The two pitcher only combined for three walks in the contest.
UTEP 2, Boise State 8
Courtney Clayton and Cortney Smith each hit solo home runs, but the Broncos used a seven-run fifth inning to down the Miners.
After three scoreless frames and solid pitching from starters Julia Wright and Gianna Mancha, Clayton put her squad up 1-0 after connecting on a 1-2 pitch and drove it over left center in the top fourth. It was Clayton’s first home run of 2018 and 19th for her career as she now ranks seventh on UTEP’s all-time home run list.
In the bottom fourth, Boise State had runners on when Alison Seng reached on an error and Justene Molina singled with one out, Wright forced Makenzie Sullivan to hit into a double play (Clayton to Ariana Valles to Taylor Sargent) – UTEP’s sixth of 2018.
But the Broncos drew four walks, including one with bases to tie the game and Jessica McKay hit a grand slam to make the score 5-1 during the bottom fifth.
Smith finished 2-for-3 and Lindsey Sokoloski singled to lead off the seventh inning. Wright (0-2) threw 4.1 innings and struck out four Broncos in the process.