No. 17 Lobos Walk Off with 11-10 Win over Air Force
May 3, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – After rallying from a 7-4 deficit to take a 9-7 lead into the ninth inning Friday against Air Force, the University of New Mexico baseball team saw the Falcons score three times in the top of the inning to take a 10-9 lead.
The Lobos, though, aren’t losing these types of games lately. UNM’s two hottest hitters, John Pustay and Josh Melendez, singled with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to give the Lobos (28-17, 18-5) an 11-10 victory over the Falcons (13-31, 5-17).
Pustay has hits in 10 of his last 11 at bats dating back to April 21 at Nevada while Melendez owns a 24-game hitting streak.
“They’re our two best hitters right now,” UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. “They’ve been outstanding.”
They didn’t do it alone, though, as six Lobos recorded multiple hits, led by Melendez’s 4-for-5 performance.
“We have a heck of a lineup,” Birmingham said. “We have the best lineup in the country.”
There might not be too much argument about that in the Mountain West, as UNM won its 10th straight conference game.
Sam Haggerty led off the ninth with a single through the left side and DJ Peterson followed with a four-pitch walk. Mitch Garver then laid down a perfect bunt and beat the throw to load the bases with no outs.
Pustay was next and he didn’t waste any time. He laced a first-pitch single to left to score Haggerty and keep the bases loaded. That brought up Melendez.
“I was just looking for something middle that I could put in the air and get a sac fly,” he said. “But (their pitcher) ended up hanging a changeup and I was able to put a good swing on it and get it out there.”
He certainly did that. He launched the first pitch he saw to deep left-center field and missed a walk-off grand slam by inches. Still, it went in the book as an RBI single and gave the Lobos another key win in their pursuit of the MW regular-season championship.
The Lobos opened the scoring in the second. Garver led off with a walk, and Melendez followed with a double to left center to extend his hitting streak to 24 games and give UNM a 1-0 lead. Luke Campbell then reached on an infield single, which sent Melendez to third. Campbell was then thrown out at second on a double steal, but that allowed Melendez to score and make the count 2-0.
Air Force tied the game in the top of the third , but UNM retook the lead in the bottom of the frame. Chase Harris doubled over the third-base bag with one out and Haggerty dropped a bloop triple down the left-field line to knock him home. Peterson followed with a sac fly to the warning track in center and gave the Lobos a 4-2 lead.
The wheels fell off for starter Drew Bridges in the fourth, though. After recording two quick outs, the Falcons rallied for five runs to chase the freshman righty.
Hobie McClain came in and was fantastic in relief. Over 3 2/3 innings he gave up just one unearned run on two hits and a walk. He struck out four and gave the Lobos a chance to rally. They did.
With one out in the sixth, pinch hitter Ryan Padilla reached on an error. Melendez then reached on a bunt single to put two men on for Campbell. He doubled down the line in left to plate Padilla and put two men in scoring position for Alex Allbritton.
The senior hit his team-leading eighth sacrifice fly to right to score Melendez. Jared Holley then tied the game with a single to center.
UNM took the lead 9-7 the very next inning on back-to-back-to-back doubles by Peterson, Garver and Pustay. That’s where the score remained until Air Force rallied in the ninth.
Harris, Haggerty, Garver, Pustay and Campbell recorded two hits apiece, while Pustay drove in three to lead the team. Haggerty, Peterson, Garver and Melendez all scored two runs.
The Lobos will go for their eighth-straight MW series win on Senior Day Saturday afternoon at Lobo Field. Fittingly, senior Sam Wolff will get the start on the mound for the Lobos. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. MT with pre-game ceremonies slated to begin at 12:45. ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team will broadcast the game live with Robert Portnoy, the voice of the Lobos, providing the play-by-play.
Notes: Saturday is also Youth Day and Star Wars Day, so all youth and anyone in Star Wars attire will receive a $3 ticket … Peterson’s double was the 74th of his career, only four shy of the UNM record held by Daniel Stovall … Gabe Aguilar, who appeared in his 59th career game Friday, enjoyed his 140th career team win as a Lobo, only one shy of the school record … Pustay is now 8-for-17 (.471) as a pinch hitter this season.