The UNLV-SDSU game was decided by a dramatic finish. (Shotgun Spratling)


MWC Dispatches: Aztecs To Title Game

At The Ballpark

SAN DIEGO — When Bryan Menendez fell behind Jordan Verdon 3-0, one of the Mountain West Network announcers calling the game begged for the 12-inning affair between UNLV and San Diego State not to end on a bases loaded walk. He wanted the game to end on a “heroic play.”

Two pitches later, he got it.

Verdon took an inside-out swing and lined a medium-depth fly ball toward the left field line. At third base, Jacob Maekawa looked over his left shoulder, awaiting a catch. UNLV left fielder Grant Robbins raced over and snagged the fly. Maekawa was a touch slow taking off, but he turned his head and began digging for him.

Third baseman Dillon Johnson relayed the throw home. As his throw hit catcher Seth Mullis’ mitt in front of Mullis’ right shoulder, Maekawa was airborne, having left his feet the second he entered the home plate circle at Tony Gwynn Stadium. He reached his hand for the plate. Mullis’ cleat was on the dish, but Maekawa still had a clear path for the front corner.

Mullis came down for the tag, hitting the runner on his left scapula. UNLV’s dugout thought it had an inning-ending double play. The Aztecs believed they had won.

I thought he was out,” Rebels head coach Stan Stolte said. “I thought he got under there,” San Diego State’s Mark Martinez said, “but of course, I’m wearing the good red and black.”

Mullis came up to show his glove to home plate umpire Travis Katzenmier, who was carefully inspecting every element of the play from behind the catcher. Katzenmier lunged forward while throwing both arms out to his sides.

Safe. Game over. Aztecs win, 4-3.

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