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UNLV battles before succumbing to TCU

For a while, freshman right-hander Matt Hutchison provided UNLV hope that it could beat the best team in the Mountain West Conference. Everything was looking promising.

Hutchison was rarely threatened while throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings. But dark clouds literally formed on the horizon, and everything quickly unraveled on the Rebels.

The rain never came Sunday afternoon, but a Texas Christian rally did, and Hutchison was knocked out as UNLV suffered its seventh consecutive loss, 7-3.

The league-leading Horned Frogs (27-9, 10-1) erased a 2-0 deficit in the sixth inning by scoring four runs with two outs.

“I think he’s going to be a good pitcher for UNLV for a long time,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said of Hutchison.

“He was pitching down and pitching in, and I was very, very impressed by him. We got lucky and had some balls fall in there.”

The Rebels (14-26, 3-9) are down on their luck and desperately searching for something positive.

Schlossnagle returned to Wilson Stadium, where he coached UNLV in 2002 and 2003, and left with a three-game sweep.

“I think they are a real talented team that’s probably lacking some confidence because they’ve played a tough schedule. There’s a lot to be said for confidence,” Schlossnagle said. “They can break out at any time as soon as they start believing in themselves.”

Hutchison (1-6) was unable to finish the sixth after allowing a walk and four singles. Adam Moser relieved and ended the inning, but he served up a home run to cleanup hitter Andrew Walker to lead off the seventh.

Rebels coach Buddy Gouldsmith shook his head over a couple bloop hits that extended the Horned Frogs’ rally.

“When things are going good for you, things like that happen in your favor. When they’re not going good for you, things go against you,” Gouldsmith said. “The frustrating thing is I don’t think they really hit (Hutchison) hard.”

Bryan Kervin chased Hutchison with a two-run single to put TCU up 4-2.

UNLV’s Keith Smith hit an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to close the gap.

“Right now, we’re on a roll,” said Walker, whose homer made it 5-3. “Since we were picked in the preseason to win the conference, everybody is going to be giving us their best game. We weren’t going to take them lightly. They have a chance to be a really good team.”

Gouldsmith, who dropped to 0-7 against Schlossnagle, takes the Rebels on the road Friday to play defending national champion Oregon State.

“Like I’ve told the guys again and again, quite honestly in this conference, it’s really about the team that wins the conference tournament,” Gouldsmith said. “You’ve got to try to accentuate the positives, and that’s what I did with those guys.

“Obviously, you would like to be playing great baseball all year long, but we’re not.”

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