No. 16 Lobos End Regular Season on High Note
May 18, 2013
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The 16th-ranked University of New Mexico baseball team closed out the regular season with an 11-7 win over San Diego St. Saturday afternoon. It was their 25th Mountain West victory of the season, which set a new conference record.
Chase Harris went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a triple out of the leadoff spot, and Josh Melendez drove in four runs. Freshman Sam Haggerty went 2-for-4 with two walks and scored a career-high four runs. It was the most runs a Lobo had scored in a game since DJ Peterson scored five against UC Riverside in the first game of a doubleheader on March 9.
"Haggerty's four runs out of the two-hole (in the lineup) were huge," UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said.
The game also had a little bit of controversy. With the score tied at six in the bottom of the seventh, the Aztecs' John Spirk was on second with Justin Gheorghe at the plate. Gheorghe laced a single to right and Spirk raced around third.
Harris fielded the ball and threw home in plenty of time to nail the runner, but the ball bounced up over catcher Alex Real's glove and to the backstop. Spirk then ran into Real. The home plate umpire immediately ruled Spirk out and threw him out of the game.
SDSU's head coach, Tony Gwynn, ran out of the dugout to argue, and was soon ejected. After that, however, the umpires conferred with each other and eventually reversed the call. They ruled that the throw from Harris took Real into the baseline and that Spirk could not avoid a collision with the Lobo catcher, so the run stood and UNM found itself trailing 7-6 heading into the eighth.
The reversed call seemed to fire the Lobos up, though, and they responded in a big way. The first three hitters for UNM in the eighth, Harris, Haggerty, and Peterson, all walked. Mitch Garver then grounded into a fielder's choice to score the tying run. Real struck out swinging, but Garver took second on a wild pitch. Melendez then worked a full count before singling up the middle to score both Haggerty and Garver to give the Lobos a 9-7 lead.
In the bottom of the inning Taylor Duree came on in relief of Hobie McClain and quickly retired the first two batters he faced. He hit the third, however, so Jake McCasland came in and struck out SDSU's most dangerous hitter, Ryan Muno, to end the inning.
The Lobos added two more in the ninth on a Peterson sacrifice fly and an RBI infield single by Melendez. That was more than enough cushion for McCasland. He worked a scoreless ninth to earn his first career save.
McClain allowed just one run on two hits in 2 2/3 innings to move to 3-1 on the season.
UNM got on the board first and wasted no time doing so. Harris led off the game with a triple to right center, and Haggerty and Peterson followed with walks to load the bases. Garver then slammed a 1-2 pitch off the third baseman's glove for a run-scoring infield single. Real drew a walk to force in another run, and Melendez grounded out to score another and give the Lobos a quick 3-0 lead.
They added another in the third on a two-out single to left by Alex Allbritton that scored Real. After SDSU struck for one of its own in the third, UNM got that run right back in the fourth on a two-strike, two-out RBI double by Real that plated Haggerty.
The teams played back and forth a little bit after that. The Aztecs scored four two-out runs in the bottom of the inning to tie the game, but UNM retook the lead in the fifth. Luke Campbell led off and single to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, a career long. He came around to score on a two-out double down the line in left by Harris, which gave the Lobos the lead once again at 6-5.
But SDSU tied the game again in the bottom of the frame on a bases-loaded HBP. The score remained knotted up until the Aztecs took the lead in the seventh.
This season-ending series against the Aztecs epitomized the type of team the Lobos are. They have All-Americans in the form of Peterson and Garver, but every day someone else steps up to help the team win. Friday Luke Campbell hit a grand slam, his second of the season, and drove in five runs in a 14-6 victory. Sam Wolff started Saturday's game on the mound and allowed just one hit and one run in 6 1/3 innings, and Gabe Aguilar came out of the bullpen to record the final eight outs in a 3-1 victory.
Sunday it was Harris, Melendez and Haggerty who starred at the plate, and Duree and McCasland were stellar out of the bullpen. If the Lobos continue to receive well-rounded, team performances then they will be a very tough out in the NCAA tournament.
Up next, though, is the Mountain West tournament in Fresno, Calif. The regular-season champion Lobos have a first-round bye and will face either Air Force or the winner of the Fresno St. vs. Nevada tilt on Wednesday. Every tournament game will be broadcast live both on the radio at ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team and via a video stream on the Mountain West Digital Network.
Notes: Haggerty and Peterson lead the team with 45 and 43 walks, respectively ... the old MW record for conference wins in a season was 24 by UNLV set in 2003 ... McClain's appearance was his 27th of the year, which is tied for fourth most in a season in school history ... A.J. Carman started on the mound for the Lobos and allowed three runs in 3 1/3 innings ... Real and Campbell finished with two hits apiece and Harris scored two runs ... UNM drew 11 walks.