No. 2 New Mexico Tops No. 3 Nevada to Capture Mountain West Baseball Title
Courtesy of Mike Mulcahy, UNM Athletics
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The second-seeded New Mexico baseball team (38-21) captured the Mountain West crown as it run-ruled third-seeded Nevada (37-24) 14-4 in seven innings Saturday evening in the title game of the 2016 Mountain West Championship.
Behind a strong offense and an encouraging home crowd, the Lobos claimed their first MW tournament title since 2012 and earned their first NCAA Regional bid since 2013 at Santa Ana Star Field on the University of New Mexico campus.
“We wanted to do it for the people of New Mexico,” New Mexico head coach Ray Birmingham said. “They came out and they made it happen.”
The host crowd helped power the Lobos to the championship, but New Mexico’s offense proved the ultimate difference as they tallied 15 hits against Nevada.
It was the second run-rule game of the day, as the Wolf Pack advanced to the title game after winning an elimination game vs. Air Force Saturday afternoon.
“It’s great,” New Mexico starting pitched Carson Schneider said. “I love our fans. I’m glad they all made it out. It was great to hear them here and I want them here all next year, too.”
Schneider (8-3) claimed with the win, working around a couple of bases-loaded jams in the first and fifth innings. He finished pitching six innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on 12 hits.
But his offense, which touched up Nevada closer-turned-starter Evan McMahan (5-2) for eight runs on eight hits in four innings, helped Schneider pitch into the seventh.
“The clutch hits gave me all of the confidence I needed in the world to throw up the zeros on the board when I needed to,” Schneider said. “That was a big part to my day, having the clutch hits and being able to come back, throw up the zeros and have a good day from there.”
Nevada got on the board in the top of the first inning as Cole Krzmarzick poked a two-out single through the right side to score Justin Bridgman. But Schneider stranded the bases loaded for the first of two times to escape down just 1-0.
In the bottom of the third, Carl Stajduhar erased the Wolf Pack’s lead with a three-run home run to left center, scoring Dalton Bowers and Michael Eaton.
Nevada would regain the lead in top of fourth, 4-3, but the Lobos would retake the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth on a three-run homer by Andrew Pratt, who cleared the fences for the second straight day. New Mexico extended its advantage, 7-4, two batters later as Dalton Bowers caught Nevada’s defense sleeping, scoring from second on a Luis Gonzalez single to right.
A solo homer by Chris DeVito in the bottom of fifth brought on a change in Nevada pitchers, and the Lobos added four more runs on four more hits, including a two-run homer by Reece Weber, his first on the year, and RBI singles from Gonzalez and Michael Eaton.
“It was just a change up,” DeVito said about the pitch he received. “But that was only one run. We had 14 today. It was a great game by everyone. I’m so excited.”
Schneider retired the side in the sixth before yielding a leadoff single to open the seventh. Christian Tripp came on in relief and enabled a lineout double play to cap the top of the frame.
The Lobos extended their lead to 10 runs in the bottom of the inning, as Stajduhar hit a walk-off single to score Gonzalez and Bowers.
New Mexico earn the Mountain West’s automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Baseball Tournament and will find out their regional destination on Monday, May 30 at 10 a.m. MT.
2016 Mountain West All-Tournament Team
Co-Most Valuable Players: Colton Thomson and Luis Gonzalez, New Mexico
Chris DeVito, New Mexico
Tyler Stevesn, New Mexico
Justin Bridgman, Nevada
TJ Friedl, Nevada
Jordan Pearce, Nevada
Ty Pennington, Nevada
Tyler Jones, Air Force
Justin Wylie, San Diego State
Cody Howard, UNLV