Lobos Claim Sole Possession of First With Dominating Win
March 28, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico baseball team moved into sole possession of first place in the Mountain West with a 14-3 victory over the San Diego St. Aztecs at Lobo Field Thursday afternoon. The Lobos (12-12, 5-2) moved a game ahead of the Aztecs (12-13, 4-3) after seven conference games.
"I think we play better here," Mitch Garver said about Lobo Field. "It's fun. We've got our own field, our own (batting practice) stations, and it makes us more comfortable as we warm up for games and start playing."
It’s difficult to pick out which was more impressive for UNM during its victory: the Lobo offense led by Garver and fellow All-American DJ Peterson, or the Lobos’ starting pitcher, junior lefty Kevin Baumgartner.
The Lobos jumped all over the ace of the Aztecs, Michael Cederoth, scoring three in the first, three more in the third and two in the fourth. Coming into the game the big righty had given up only nine earned runs in 39 innings. Against the mighty UNM lineup Thursday he allowed eight in only four innings as every Lobo starter scored at least once.
Garver finished 4-for-5 with a run, four RBI, two doubles and a triple as he fell a home run short of the cycle. Peterson was 3-for-3 with three doubles, four runs and an RBI, while Chase Harris added a grand slam in the seventh as part of a 2-for-6 afternoon. Ryan Padilla also finished with two hits for the Lobos, including his first triple of the season.
"I was seeing the ball pretty well," Garver said. "I was working hard with Coach (Birmingham) yesterday on my angled hitting. I've been working to square all the balls up."
UNM got the offense working early and often against the Aztecs. With one out in the first Sam Haggerty walked. He came around to score on Peterson's first double of the game. Garver then knocked Peterson home with a single to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 23 games. A double by Josh Melendez drove home another run later in the inning.
The Lobos weren't finished with Cederoth yet, however. In the third Peterson led off with another double, and he advanced to third on a double to center by Garver. One batter later Padilla tripled to right center to score both men. He then scored on a sacrifice fly by Melendez.
SDSU struck for one in the fourth, but UNM fought right back and added two more of their own with a two-out rally in the fourth to chase Cederoth. Haggerty and Peterson walked ahead of Garver's two-RBI triple. That increased the lead to 8-1.
Meanwhile, Baumgartner thoroughly outpitched Cederoth. The southpaw from Phoenix went 7 1/3 innings and allowed only one earned run on seven hits and one walk. He struck out five and threw 74 of his 111 pitches for strikes.
Asked about whether knowing the success of his counterpart on the mound added any motivation, Baumgartner said no.
"I don't really concern myself with that," he said. "I'm just trying to do what I can and not do too much. If you look at who you're going against, who's on the other side of the mound, that does you no good."
Garver had the best view of Baumgartner's work from behind the plate.
"He pitched really well," he said. "It was awesome to watch. That's the kind of guy he is. He has always been that way. He's a soft lefty who can spot up. He threw three different pitches for strikes and kept them off balance, and that's a good hitting team."
UNM head coach Ray Birmingham implored Baumgartner to pitch to his strengths and it paid off.
"His best pitch is his changeup," he said. "Use it more. ... If you're a soft lefty, be a soft lefty. Throw soft, softer and softest."
Baumgartner did, and he kept SDSU off balance most of the game.
In the sixth, however, he ran into a bit of trouble as the Aztecs had a chance to claw back into the game. They loaded the bases with two outs. but Baumgartner bore down and induced a pop up to Haggerty to end the inning
"I felt pretty good, especially after that bases-loaded jam," he said. "After that everything just clicked. I was able to hit my spots and my changeup was really working for me today."
The knockout blow for UNM came in the seventh. Three straight one-out walks loaded the bases for Harris. After taking a called strike the junior launched a pitch well over the wall in left to clear the bases for his first career grand slam.
"Our lineup is capable of so much and it's awesome to see that happen because we know they're capable of that every game," said Baumgartner about the offensive support he received.
The Lobos' final run came in the eighth when Alex Real hit a monster solo home run over the 413 marker in center field for his third of the season.
Hobie McClain recorded the final five outs for UNM.
UNM will try to claim its third straight MW series win tomorrow at Lobo Field. Junior A.J. Carman will take the mound for the Lobos with first pitch scheduled for 2:05 p.m.
Notes: The Lobos reached .500 for the first time since they were 2-2 following a 7-0 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 22 … Harris’ grand slam was the third of the season for UNM with Peterson hitting the first two … Real had three home runs in 41 games last year and now has three in 24 games this year ... this was win number 996 in Birmingham's career ... Garver now has 229 career hits, only four short of the UNM record for catchers held by Rafael Neda.