Bridges, Lobos Shut Out UNLV 9-0
April 26, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The 24th-ranked University of New Mexico baseball team shut out UNLV 9-0 behind six shutout innings by freshman Drew Bridges and DJ Peterson’s first home run at Lobo Field this season. It was the eighth-straight win for UNM (25-16, 15-4), which moved four games up in the Mountain West.
Bridges went a career-long six innings and allowed only three hits and one walk. He struck out three and lowered his ERA to 3.13. He has been fantastic in his last three starts, which came on the road at then-No. 10 Arkansas, on the road against potential first-round pick Braden Shipley and Nevada, and Friday against UNLV (27-14, 11-8), which is in second place in the MW. He has allowed only one run in 16 1/3 innings while giving up only nine hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts.
“I think getting the experience and practicing every day and focusing on the small things in practice (has helped my confidence),” the right-hander said.
UNM head coach Ray Birmingham could not have predicted this when recruiting Bridges as a shortstop last season.
“Drew Bridges is a huge addition,” he said. “He was a big-time athlete in high school. In basketball he was a go-to guy and in baseball he was a go-to guy. He doesn’t get emotional. He thinks, he’s smart, and he just goes to work and tries to not cause himself any problems.”
DJ Peterson, who finished 3-for-4, was also effusive in his praise of the 6-foot-4 freshman.
“He was tremendous,” Peterson said. “He’s only 85-88 (MPH) but with that good, high arm angle that’s tough to hit. He’s doing a great job. As a freshman it’s tough to come in and pitch on Friday but he has done a great job. He beat Shipley last week so he’s a tremendous pitcher and a tremendous athlete.”
Baseball is a game of inches and UNM used those inches to open the scoring in the second.
Josh Melendez led off the bottom of the inning and reached on an infield single to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 20 games. It was a slow roller to third that the speedy center fielder beat out by a step. Ryan Padilla then followed with a double down the left-field line that was fair by about half a foot.
Alex Allbritton then reached on an infield single that was just out of the reach of UNLV’s shortstop. Melendez scored to give UNM a 1-0 lead.
One batter later there were two men in scoring position when Chase Harris grounded out to score another run. Sam Haggerty then followed with a bloop single that was just out of the reach of the Rebels’ left fielder. That allowed Allbritton to score and gave UNM a 3-0 lead.
That would be more than enough for Bridges.
UNM added two more in the fifth thanks to three straight two-out hits. Jared Holley doubled to left center and Harris followed with a double over the third-base bag. Haggerty then singled to left center to score Harris and give the Lobos a 5-0 lead.
Peterson’s two-run, opposite-field home run in the sixth increased the lead to 7-0. It was his 13th home run of the season, but his first at Lobo Field.
“It was nice and hopefully I can get it rolling from there,” he said. “The swing wasn’t very good, but it was a good feeling.”
In the eighth, Peterson doubled off the wall with one out. It was his 20th of the season and 73rd of his career. He eventually came around to score on an infield single by Alex Real, who scored on another infield single, this time by Logan Lippert, to provide the final margin.
It was the worst loss of the season for UNLV, which falls four games back of UNM in the MW race.
“It was good baseball,” Birmingham said of his team’s performance. “A shutout is big time.”
It was a total team effort for the Lobos as they outhit the Rebels 15-5 and every starter recorded at least one hit. Peterson led the way with three hits, but Haggerty, Holley and Mitch Garver all chipped in with two apiece.
“The pitching staff was tremendous today,” Peterson said.
McClain struck out one in one inning, and Aguilar came on pitched the final two innings to preserve the shutout.
The Lobos will look for their seventh-straight MW series win, and ninth-straight win overall, Saturday at 1:05 p.m., at Lobo Field. Senior Sam Wolff will get the start on the mound for UNM.
Notes: It was the quickest game of the season for UNM, taking only two hours and 14 minutes … Saturday continues Fan Appreciation Weekend at Lobo Field as admission is free for everyone…fans are encouraged to park in the Stadium West or Baseball South lots, which will offer free parking Saturday for fans attending the baseball game.