No. 2 New Mexico Advances to Championship Final With Win Over No. 5 Air Force

 

Courtesy of Chelsey Chamberlain, UNM Athletics

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The second-seeded New Mexico baseball team (37-21) advances to the 2016 Mountain West Championship after a 6-4 win over No. 5 Air Force (30-26) Friday evening at Santa Ana Star Field, on the campus of the University of New Mexico.

The 2016 Mountain West Championship will be played tomorrow at 5 p.m. MT. The Lobos will face the winner of the Nevada-Air Force matchup that is set for 1 p.m. MT.

“We are going to have to play really, really well to finish this off,” said New Mexico head coach Ray Birmingham. “We are down to one starter and we’ve lost our record-setting closer. It’s all there, it all can happen. The great thing is, they are competing. They are scratching and clawing, and that’s what Lobo baseball is.”

The game was tied 4-4 going into the sixth before the Lobos took their first lead of the game and held on for the win. Junior Chris DeVito hit a solo shot over the right field wall to push the Lobos to a 5-4 lead. They put another run on the board in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by senior Michael Eaton.

“I didn’t try to do too much,” said DeVito. “That was just one run and we scored six today, so it was a team effort. Winning is our goal every night. This fires us up.”

Air Force took the lead in the first inning, plating three runs off Lobo right-handed starter Tyler Stevens. Another run came across for the Falcons in the second, 4-0, but Stevens settled down on the mound and kept them scoreless for the next five innings.

The Lobos comeback started in the third inning and was surged by freshman Andrew Pratt. Pratt sent a two-run shot over the left field wall to cut the Air Force lead in half, 4-2. The Lobos tied the game up in the fourth after a DeVito RBI double down the left field line and a RBI single from junior Andre Vigil.

Stevens claimed the win to improve to 8-4 on the season. He allowed four runs, one earned, off seven hits while striking out six in seven innings of work. Freshman right-hander Christian Tripp earned the save, his fourth on the season, as he entered the game in the eighth and had one strikeout. Tripp’s 24th appearance this season set UNM’s freshman record for most appearances. Nick Biancalana took the loss for Air Force, dropping to 3-5 overall. He allowed five runs, off seven hits while striking out six in six innings of work.

Four Lobo players had two hits each with DeVito leading the way with two RBIs and two runs scored. For Air Force, Adam Groesbeck led the Falcons at the plate with a 2-for-4 effort and two runs scored.

Live streaming of the 2016 MW Baseball Championship is available through the Mountain West Network (MWN) on TheMW.com and CampusInsiders.com. All live broadcasts are free of charge. Paul Loeffler, Robert Portnoy, Don Marchand and Chris Ello will call the games from Santa Ana Star Field. David Lombardi returns to the MWN broadcast team to provide color analysis and in-game features for a fourth consecutive season.

In addition, fans can watch live video on their mobile devices for free with the MW mobile app. Links to live stats, game highlights, recaps and box scores will also be available on the Mountain West Championship Central page on TheMW.com. The Mountain West application can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for iPhones and iPads, and from Google Play for Android phones and tablets. Broadcasts are also available on the Campus Insiders app and Verizon customers can watch on the go90 app.

Fans also can follow the Championship through the league’s social media channels on Twitter (@MW_OlySports), Snapchat (https://www.snapchat.com/add/mountainwest), YouTube (MountainWestConf), Facebook (MountainWestConference), and Instagram (MountainWestConference) for updates on each game. Followers are encouraged to use the hashtag #MWBSB16 when posting throughout the championship.