Lobos Blast UNLV 7-1 To Reach Mountain West Title Game
May 24, 2013
FRESNO, Calif. -- In a way, it simply wasn't fair. The New Mexico Lobos have so often pounded their way past the best teams in the Mountain West, but in their first two games in the Mountain West Championship the Lobos took to the field with a deadly combination of hitting and pitching.
And Nevada and UNLV were blasted to the wayside.
New Mexico's Sam Wolff threw a solid 6 2/3 innings Friday night and was relieved by Hobie McClain, who finished the game without allowing a hit or a run. The No. 1 seed Lobos slapped down the No. 2 seed UNLV Rebels 7-1 to advance to the Mountain West Championship game.
The final win in the winners' bracket is huge. If the Rebels hope to claim the 2013 MW title and the NCAA automatic bid that comes with it, UNLV has to win three games - including two against New Mexico.
The Rebels fall into the losers' bracket to face San Diego State which beat Fresno State 4-0 earlier Friday. The winner of that game has to climb out of the losers' bracket with a worn pitching staff and try to sweep the Lobos.
The Lobos are a single win away from the title and although the Lobos surely don't need the Mountain's automatic bid to advance into NCAA play, the title would likely improve UNM's seeding for that final NCAA battle.
The Lobos scored a run in the first, a run in the second and two runs in the third to claim a 4-0 lead that UNLV would never erase.
Chase Harris scored first for UNM opening the bottom of the first inning with a walk. He stole second and advanced to third on a ground out by Sam Haggerty and scored on a Mitch Garver single. Harris doubled in the second inning to push across Luke Campbell, who led off the second frame with a double.
Those two runs were all the Lobos would need with Wolff and McClain mowing down Rebels from the mound. The two UNM arms combined to strike out 10.
The Lobos jumped up 4-0 in the bottom of the third inning when Garver blasted a homer over the left field wall to score DJ Peterson, who led off the third with a single.
New Mexico ended the game with 10 hits and no errors as the top of the UNM lineup - Harris, Haggerty, Peterson, and Garver - combined for eight hits, six runs and four RBIs. Garver went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs - two coming off his third-inning homer. Joshn Melendez also had two RBIs for UNM.
The Rebels got to Wolff in the seventh as the Lobo gave up his second, third and fourth hits to UNLV - his first run - and got pulled with two down and Rebels on the corner.
Wolff opened the frame with a strikeout, but Justin Jones hit a hard single to right field and Erik VanMeetren reached on a fielders choice that forced Jones out at second. VanMeetren was pushed to third on a single by Matt McCallister and scored on a single to the right side by Joey Swanner.
UNM went to the bullpen at that point and pulled out McClain, who struck out T.J. White on three pitches to put out the flames on UNLV's two-out rally. Wolff went to the bench with 6.2 solid innings that featured seven strikeouts, three walks, four hits and one earned run.
Haggerty helped send UNLV's Buddy Borden to the showers as he led off the seventh with a single up the middle which brought up Peterson with a runner on and no out.
The Rebs brought in Brady Zuniga to face the Co-Player of the Year in the Mountain West. Peterson welcomed the fresh Vegas arm with a single to left that forced Haggerty to pull up at second.
Zuniga then had to face the other Co-MW Player of the Year - Garver, who was 3-for-3 walking up to face Zuniga. Garver lashed a grounder deep into the hole to the right side of the UNLV shortstop, who robbed Garver of a single and tossed out Peterson at second. Haggerty stopped at third. Garver stole second to place Lobos at third and second with one out.
Ryan Padilla hit a shot to short and the Rebels first got Garver in a rundown and switched to Haggerty on his dash to the home plate. The throw to the plate beat Haggerty, but he dove around the Vegas catcher to the infield-side of the field and avoided the tag.
UNM was up 6-1, snatching back the run the Lobos gave up in the top of the seventh.
Melendez came up and singled up the middle and Garver trotted in with UNM's seventh run. UNLV went to the bullpen for its third arm of the game and A Beresoford got Luke Campbell to hit a liner that also got Melendez doubled off first base.
The Lobos went into the eighth inning with a six-run lead and six outs away from a spot in the Mountain West's championship game. The Rebels never scored again.