Big Hit Eludes Lobos in 2-1 Loss
May 6, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas – Both UNM and TCU had golden opportunities to multiple score runs Sunday afternoon, and only one team managed to take advantage of them. Unfortunately for UNM, they were not that team.
The Lobos (27-21) left 11 men on base, including leaving the bases loaded in both the second and seventh innings, in falling to the Horned Frogs (29-16) by a score of 2-1. The loss snapped UNM’s school record of eight straight weekend series wins in a row and dropped the Lobos into a first-place tie in the Mountain West with TCU. Both teams have 13-5 records and six league games remaining in the regular season.
“It was a great pitching performance by two great teams,” UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. “Whoever got the big hit would win, and they got the big hit.”
The Lobos wasted another fabulous start by Gera Sanchez. The senior used his assortment of breaking pitches to keep TCU off balance and held the Horned Frogs hitless through six innings. Designated hitter Kevin Cron was hit by a pitch in the second inning, but aside from that not a single TCU batter reached base. Unfortunately for the Lobos, they could not score a single run during that time.
It has become a disturbing trend for the Lobos to not support Sanchez offensively. Sunday was his fifth start of the season, during which UNM has scored a total of eight runs in his 34 2/3 innings on the mound.
That trend continued on Sunday. The Lobos left two men on in the first, the bases loaded in the second, and one man on in the fourth. They just could never get a clutch hit to break through on the scoresheet.
As a team they came into the contest hitting .359 with men in scoring position but went a combined 0-8 while managing only four hits all game.
The Horned Frogs only managed two hits of their own, but one of them went for extra bases and came with two men on.
Right after the Lobos failed to score with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, TCU went to work in the bottom half of the frame. Josh Elander led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch. Then Jason Coats battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk. A failed bunt attempt kept runners at first and second with one out, and it looked like the Lobos could get out of the inning unscathed with a double play.
But Cron laced an 0-1 pitch to right center that drove home both runners and provided the TCU pitching staff all the support it would need.
The Lobos managed to load the bases again in the eighth, but all they could manage was an RBI groundout by Kyle Stiner to score Josh Melendez and cut the lead in half.
The Lobos had one last chance in the ninth with Ben Woodchick on first and DJ Peterson up with only one out. But Peterson grounded into a double play to end the game and snap his career-best 22-game hitting streak.
Despite the loss, however, the Lobos are still in excellent shape in the conference. They have three games remaining against both UNLV and Air Force, the bottom two teams in the league. If the Lobos can sweep both those series then they will clinch no worse than a share of the regular-season title. UNM owns a 5-1 record against those teams already this season. They took two out of three from Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colo., from Apr. 6-8, and swept UNLV at Isotopes Park Apr. 27-29.
TCU closes with three at Air Force and three at home against San Diego State.
“There’s still lots of baseball to be played,” Birmingham said. “It will go down to the wire.”
New Mexico Lobos Baseball – Remaining Schedule
Friday, May 11: 7:05 p.m. (MT), New Mexico Lobos at UNLV*#
Saturday, May 12: 3:05 p.m. (MT), New Mexico Lobos at UNLV*
Sunday, May 13: 2:05 p.m. (MT), New Mexico Lobos at UNLV*
Tuesday, May 15: 6:00 p.m. (MT), New Mexico Lobos vs. New Mexico State $
Thursday, May 17: 12:00 p.m. (MT), New Mexico Lobos vs. Air Force*$
Friday, May 18: 12:00 p.m. (MT), New Mexico Lobos vs. Air Force*$
Saturday, May 19: 12:00 p.m. (MT), New Mexico Lobos vs. Air Force*$
Thursday, May 24-Sunday, May 27: TBA, Mountain West Conference Tournament, Las Vegas, Nev.#
* - Mountain West game
# - Televised by The Mtn.
$ - ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team