Lobos Split Doubleheader at Lobo Field
March 24, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – One thing is for sure: whenever UNM and Nevada face off in baseball, you can expect a tight game. Seven of the eight meetings all-time between the two schools have been decided by two runs or less. Sunday’s doubleheader was no different.
In the first games at Lobo Field since May 8, 2011, the Lobos split a doubleheader with the Nevada Wolf Pack. UNM took a brutal 3-2 loss in game one after the Wolf Pack (14-10, 3-3) scored two unearned runs in the ninth inning. The Lobos (11-12, 4-2) bounced back in the second game and held on for dear life for a 7-5 victory to earn the series victory and remain tied for first place in the Mountain West.
“It was a good win the second time around,” Alex Allbritton said. “We battled through (game) one. It seems like all the games we’re losing we’re just giving away. … It was a good job battling back in that second game. I think that will boost our confidence a little bit coming into the next series.”
UNM head coach Ray Birmingham was not happy with his team’s performance on the day, but he still took away some positives.
“I thought we pitched well all day long,” he said. “I thought Wolff struggled a little bit, but they didn’t get many runs across the plate, and that’s the bottom line. The pitching staff has done what (it) needs to do to be competitive. The defense is absolutely bad. Bad. I wondered if anyone wanted to catch the popup to end the game, and a freshman ran in there and snagged it.
“Dan Spencer has done a good job of continually working at it and working on what (the pitchers) need to fix. We just need to work on defense … and base running.”
Allbritton finished the day 4-for-6 with a double, two runs, and two RBI. Mitch Garver went 3-for-6, scored four runs in the second game, and extended his hitting streak to a career-long 22 games.
If UNM stole a win with its six-run ninth on Friday, the Wolf Pack stole a win in game one Sunday. The Lobos led 2-1 with two outs and two on in the ninth, but a fly ball to Luke Campbell in left was lost in the sun and both men scored to give Nevada the victory.
The Lobos made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, though. A leadoff single by Allbritton and a pinch-hit double by Ryan Padilla put two men in scoring position with one out. A strikeout and an intentional walk to DJ Peterson loaded the bases with two outs for Campbell.
The senior was looking for redemption and he battled to a full count, but on the 10th pitch of the at bat, he struck out swinging to end the game.
Gabe Aguilar was the hard-luck loser. He pitched brilliantly for three innings, allowing only one hit with four strikeouts and the two unearned runs in the top of the ninth.
The Wolf Pack struck with a run in the first on two walks and two singles. It could have been worse but starter Sam Wolff left the bases loaded. Wolff was effectively wild. He went six-plus innings and gave up one run, five hits and six walks.
Each team had a couple chances over the next few innings but the score remained 1-0 until the fifth when UNM tied the game.
UNM then took the lead in the seventh. Josh Melendez led off with a double and advanced to third on a flyout by Jared Holley. Allbritton then singled through the side in right to give the Lobos a 2-1 lead.
Allbritton was the only Lobo to record multiple hits as he finished 3-for-4 with a double, a run, and an RBI. Mitch Garver singled in the second to extend his hitting streak to 21 games.
After losing game one in heartbreaking fashion, the Lobos escaped with a victory in the second game. Holding a 7-4 lead in the ninth, Nevada scored an unearned run and had the tying run in scoring position with two outs. A towering popup in the infield proved difficult due to the swirling wind, but freshman shortstop Jared Holley managed to get underneath it just behind the pitcher’s mound and squeezed on for dear life as the ball almost popped out of his glove. It didn’t, though, and UNM earned a hard-fought series victory.
Jonathan Cuellar pitched five solid innings out of the bullpen to earn his second win of the season.
“It feels good to win the series,” he said. “We’ve been struggling on defense. It’s about putting it together (right now). That first game was pretty rough. We took one from them Friday and they took one from us today. It was good to win the series. It feels good.”
The junior righty allowed three unearned runs on four hits and a walk.
“I did not expect (to pitch five innings today),” he said with a laugh. “My role has been starting or coming out of the pen. Whatever (pitching) coach (Dan Spencer) wants me to do I just come in and do my job. I felt good out there throwing strikes and fortunately everything turned out great.”
UNM jumped on the board first in game two courtesy of two runs in the second. Garver singled to center to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 22 games. One batter later Garver stole his seventh base of the season in as many attempts. Ryan Padilla then walked to put two men on for Josh Melendez. He came through with a double down the line in left to score Garver and send Padilla to third. Allbritton then singled through the right side to drive home Padilla and give UNM a 2-0 lead.
UNM added two more unearned runs in the third to take a 4-0 lead.
With two outs DJ Peterson reached second on an error by Nevada’s first baseman. Garver followed with a walk. Alex Real then singled up the middle to knock home Peterson. A walk to Padilla loaded the bases, and Garver scored on a wild pitch with Melendez at the plate.
The lead did not last long, however.
The Wolf Pack cut UNM’s lead in half when Austin Byler hit a two-run homer to right in the fourth, and added two unearned runs in the fifth to tie the game.
The Lobos jumped right out back in front in the bottom of the fifth, though. Consecutive singles by Garver, Real, and Padilla gave UNM a 5-4 lead.
UNM added to its lead in the seventh and eighth. In the seventh, with Garver on second, Real singled up the middle to score the Lobo catcher. Sam Haggerty added an RBI triple in the eighth to score Allbritton and increase the lead to 7-4.
Notes: Garver only had six stolen bases last season but already has eight this year … Birmingham is now only five wins shy of 1,000 for his career … Garver’s hitting streak ties Peterson’s streak last season as the longest by a Lobo since Justin Howard hit in 26 straight in 2010.