Lobos Shut Down Red Raiders in 10-3 Victory
April 2, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico baseball team turned in one of its most complete performances of the season Tuesday as the Lobos (14-14) defeated Texas Tech 10-3 in front of 479 fans at Lobo Field. Freshman starter Drew Bridges earned his first career win by allowing two runs on only two hits in five-plus innings.
Bridges teamed up with relievers Jonathan Cuellar and Josh Walker to hold the Red Raiders (17-14) to only three hits, which is the fewest hits the Lobos have allowed in a game this season. Cuellar struck out five in 3 1/3 innings of relief and Walker struck out one in getting the final two outs of the game.
“The big story to me was Drew Bridges,” said UNM head coach Ray Birmingham. “I don’t know what he was on the radar gun, and I don’t know that it matters. He threw his curve ball for strikes and … got ahead in the count and getting ahead in the count is a big deal in pitching.”
Bridges walked three and hit three to go along with his two hits allowed, but he struck out two and really settled in after a wild first inning.
“I’ve been trying to work on just attacking the hitters and not being intimidated,” he said. “I’m trying to get first-pitch strikes.
“I think getting ahead of the hitters and getting my two-seam (fastball) to be able to move was effective.”
The pitching staff was definitely effective against the Red Raiders as the Lobos allowed the fewest hits in a game since last May 6 at TCU. Bridges was helped by a spectacular over-the-shoulder diving grab by Josh Melendez in center in the fourth.
“I kind of took a bad route to it because it was over my head,” the senior said with a laugh. “I kept running and eventually said (to myself), ‘I have no shot at this unless I dive.’”
If Bridges paced the Lobo pitchers and Melendez paced UNM’s defense, the offense was led by Alex Real and Jared Holley in a group effort that was without All-American DJ Peterson for a fourth-consecutive game and saw Mitch Garver’s 26-game hitting streak come to an end.
“Garver lost his streak and Peterson wasn’t here and we’re still knocking the ball around the yard,” Birmingham said about the Lobo lineup. “That’s the way I like it. … I think everyone in the lineup needs to be a threat to do something with the bat.”
“(DJ) kept worrying about me wanting him in the lineup,” Birmingham said. “I said these guys have to win without you. It’s good for the team having to compete and win without you.”
Real was 3-for-5 with a run and four RBI, and Holley also added three hits, two of which were doubles, and scored two runs to pace the Lobos.
“I thought Holley’s knocks today were big,” Birmingham said. “Real is a kid that was an average hitter last year but is hitting almost .500 in conference play. He’s using the middle of the field and learning a new way to swing the bat.”
The Lobos opened the scoring as Real knocked home Sam Haggerty in the first, and they scored in each of the first five innings on their way to building an 8-1 lead. UNM added two in the second, one in the third, three in the fourth, and one more in the fifth. The Lobos also scored two insurance runs in the eighth.
Garver and Ryan Padilla were the only Lobos not to record a hit, but Garver was hit by a pitch and scored a run and Padilla walked three times and also scored a run.
The win was number 998 of Birmingham’s career. He has a chance to reach 1,000 this weekend when the Lobos return to Mountain West play with a three-game series at Air Force.
Notes: Garver’s hitting streak was the sixth longest in school history … Holley only had one double all season coming into the game … Chase Harris stole his eighth base of the season I the fourth inning.