Lobos Allow Five in Eighth, Lose 8-7

March 16, 2013

Box Score

Complete box: Lobos 7, No. 21 UNLV 8 Get Acrobat Reader

LAS VEGAS, Nev. –  A night after throwing four shutout innings, the University of New Mexico bullpen couldn’t hold a 6-3 eighth-inning lead as the Lobos lost a back-and-forth game against the No. 21 UNLV Rebels (15-4 1-1) Saturday afternoon. Gabe Aguilar (2-1) and Josh Walker, UNM’s two most-reliable pitchers this season, combined to allow five runs in the game-changing eighth.

The Lobos then loaded the bases in the ninth, but they could only push one run across as they fell to 7-10 overall and 1-1 in MW play.

UNLV only scored in the first and eighth innings, but it proved to be enough.

UNM, coming off one of its better wins of the season, had to come from behind early after starter Sam Wolff ran into some trouble in the first inning. The senior walked two batters, was called for a balk, had his defense commit an error behind him, and allowed a single as the Rebels scored three times before recording their second out.

Wolff settled down after that and retired the next two batters of the inning to limit UNLV’s damage, something pitching coach Dan Spencer has preached to his Lobos all year long. He pitched an effective 5 1/3 innings while giving up three runs, two earned, on five hits and three walks. He struck out five and didn’t allow a run after the first.

The Lobos were forced to battle back against one of the best pitchers in the conference in Buddy Borden, who threw 6 1/3 shutout innings last weekend to beat then-No. 9 Stanford.

Ryan Padilla bested Borden in the second inning, though, when he crushed a ball over the right-field fence for a two-run home run to cut UNLV’s lead to 3-2. The home run, which was his first of the season, was just the third extra-base hit of the year for the Preseason All-American.

The Lobos were able to tie the game in the sixth when Luke Campbell was hit by a pitch leading off the inning. The senior then stole second and third to put himself in scoring position. Josh Melendez, the hero of Friday’s extra-inning win, hit a sacrifice fly to right to knock him home and tie the game.

The Lobo bullpen then played with fire in both the sixth and seventh innings. UNLV loaded the bases with one out in the sixth and had two men in scoring position with only one out in the seventh, but the Lobos used five pitchers to keep the Rebels from scoring.

The Lobos then seized momentum in the eighth against UNLV’s bullpen. Mitch Garver, who extended his hitting streak to 16 earlier in the game, led off the inning with a walk. Two batters later with Garver on second, Alex Real singled to knock him home and give the Lobos their first lead of the game at 4-3. Padilla then followed a single, and Melendez came up clutch once again with a triple to left-center to score two and give the Lobos a 6-3 lead.

The lead, however, did not last long.

The bottom of the eighth started off the same way for the Lobos. Josh Walker came in to start the inning and allowed the first three batters to reach base, including an RBI single that cut the Lobos’ lead to 6-4. Aguilar relieved him and didn’t fare any better. He allowed a single and a sacrifice fly that tied the game.

Then came the big blow courtesy of UNLV’s Mark Shannon. The lefty launched a homer to right, only UNLV’s second as a team of the season, to provide the winning margin. Those were also the first two runs Aguilar gave up all season.

In the top of the ninth the Lobos refused to go down without a fight, though. Freshman Sam Haggerty led off the inning with a single. DJ Peterson singled to center for his first hit of the game to put two men on. Garver then reached on an error to load the bases with no out. A groundout by Campbell scored a run, but back-to-back strikeouts ended the game.

Melendez led the Lobos with three RBI, while Padilla, Real, and Chase Harris had two hits apiece.

The rubber match of the three-game series is set for Sunday at 2:05 p.m. (MT).

Notes: Campbell finished with three stolen bases and Real had two … UNM left nine men on base compared to eight for UNLV.