Melendez's Home Run in Eighth Paces Lobos to 5-2 Win
April 19, 2013
RENO, Nev. – The University of New Mexico baseball team (22-16, 12-4) defeated the Nevada Wolf Pack (19-18,7-9) 5-2 Friday night at Peccole Park thanks to a two-run home run in the top of the eight by Josh Melendez. It was the fifth straight win for the Lobos and kept them in sole possession of first place in the Mountain West.
"This is a huge series for us and that was a big win," UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. "That's two times this season we've defeated a first-round pick."
Birmingham was referring to Nevada's ace and starter Friday, junior righty Braden Shipley, who is projected to be a top 15 pick in this June's MLB draft. The Lobos also defeated Shipley and the Wolf Pack 9-8 on March 22 thanks to a six-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.
Freshman Drew Bridges, making his first weekend start after four spectacular weekday starts, allowed only one run on three hits in five innings. He struck out four and walked only one.
Senior lefty Gabe Aguilar earned his team-leading fifth win by allowing only one run in three solid innings. He struck out two and allowed only one run.
The excellent pitching would have gone to waste, however, if not for the hottest hitter on the Lobos, Melendez. UNM's center fielder, who extended his hitting streak to a career-best 17 games with a single earlier in the game, smoked the first pitch he saw in the eighth over the fence in left for a two-run shot to break a 2-2 tie.
UNM struck first in the second inning when Mitch Garver led off by crushing a double off the left-field wall, missing a home run by just a few feet. Garver was on third one batter later when Ryan Padilla came to the plate and chopped a ball to the right side underneath Nevada’s second basemen’s glove for an error and a run.
Nevada tied the game thanks to a walk and a single in the fourth, but the Lobos retook the lead in the sixth.
Peterson started the rally when he laced a one-out double into the left-field gap. Shipley then pitched around Garver and walked him on four pitches. Two batters later Melendez was able to reach base on a throwing error by the Wolf Pack short stop. Padilla came up again and was hit by a pitch to score Peterson and give the Lobos a 2-1 advantage.
In the seventh, however, Nevada sent up pinch hitter Hugo Hernandez who crushed the first pitch he saw from Aguilar over the right-field fence to tie the game at two apiece.
In the next inning the Lobos sent up a pinch hitter of their own in John Pustay with one out. He worked Shipley and drew a seven-pitch walk, only the second Shipley allowed all game. The next batter was the reigning Mountain West Player of the Week, Melendez, who hit his second home run of the season.
Shipley threw a season-high 137 pitches with his last coming on the Melendez blast. He threw 7.1 innings, gave up six hit, and four runs (two earned).
The Wolf Pack had runners at first and second with only one out in the ninth, but the Lobos pulled a fantastic double play to end the game. Sam Haggerty made a superb over-the-shoulder catch in shallow right-center and then whirled and threw to second to double off the runner and end the game.
Melendez finished 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI. Peterson, who finished 2-for-5, was the only other Lobo to record multiple hits.
The Lobos will look for their sixth straight series win to open Mountain West play when they face the Wolf Pack at 2 p.m. MT Saturday. Senior Sam Wolff will get the start on the mound for UNM.
Notes: Peterson's double was the 69th of his career, which moves him into a tie for second place all-time at UNM ... Peterson leads the MW with 46 RBI ... UNM infielder Alex Allbritton was named to the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List, which is given to the best shortstop in college baseball, earlier on Friday. Allbritton has split his time between short and third base this season.