Monday, Feb. 5, 2001 | 11:11 a.m.
The UNLV baseball team didn't come out of its season-opening series against Washington State with a sweep of the three games -- although it should have -- but head coach Rod Soesbe nonetheless learned a lot more about his players.
The Rebels committed four errors and at least two additional mental mistakes in handing the Cougars a 7-6 victory Sunday at Wilson Stadium. The loss dropped UNLV to 2-1 on the season.
While Soesbe may not believe in moral victories, he did see something positive come out of Sunday's loss.
"You never know about the character of your club until you play outside competition," Soesbe said. "I think that's the one thing that you don't know when you can't play anybody in the fall.
"I saw (this weekend) that they have character, they don't get rattled in a situation and there's no quit in them."
The latter trait surfaced in each of the three games during the weekend as the Rebels battled back from a 4-0 deficit on Friday and a 2-0 deficit on Saturday to post a pair of wins.
On Sunday, Washington State used four UNLV errors to pull out to a 7-0 lead before the Rebels whittled the Cougars' lead to a single run.
"Hey, two out of three is not bad," Soesbe said. "But (today) we kicked the ball around and we gave them some runs early. If we don't give them those runs early, we've got a three-game sweep."
The Rebels' defense ruined a solid outing by freshman left-hander Robbie Van, who was plagued by a rash of bloop hits and some shoddy defense in the first three innings as the Cougars built a 6-0 lead.
Van gave up eight hits and seven runs (only three earned), walked two and struck out five in his first collegiate start, but each of the Cougars' first six runs came as the result of errors.
"We thought our defense was going to be our strong point coming out," Soesbe said. "We have got to play defense; our pitching is going to get better but we're not going to be a nine- or 10-run ballclub offensively so (making errors) is something we can't do."
Senior designated hitter Trent Kitsch paced the Rebels on offense with a double and a triple and one RBI. Junior outfielder David Trujillo had a double and a single and drove in a run.
Washington State right-hander Jamin Svendsen limited the Rebels to five runs (three earned) on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings and earned the win in his first collegiate start.
The Rebels will travel to Westwood, Calif., on Friday for a three-game series against UCLA.