Lobos Drop Heartbreaker 8-7 to Aztecs in MW Tournament

May 26, 2013

Box Score

Complete Box: No. 13 Lobos 7, SDSU 8 Get Acrobat Reader

FRESNO, Calif. – The 13th-ranked University of New Mexico baseball team dropped an 8-7 decision to San Diego St. Saturday night in the double-elimination Mountain West Tournament championship game. It was the first loss for the Lobos in the tournament so the teams will play Sunday at 2 p.m. (MT) to determine the conference champion.

The Lobos (37-19) had the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but a hard ground ball by Chase Harris was right at the Aztec’s second baseman, and SDSU (30-29) was able to turn a double play to end the game.

“They got a lot of breaks today,” UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said about the Aztecs, “but that’s baseball. (Sam) Haggerty hit a ground-rule double that took a run off the board (in the eighth) and everything we hit was right at them, but that’s baseball.”

UNM jumped on the board in the first on a two-run homer by DJ Peterson, his 18th of the season, and an RBI single by Alex Real. The Aztecs chipped away at the lead, though, with single runs in the second and third innings.

Luke Campbell hit a solo home run to left center in the fourth to give UNM a two-run cushion once again, but SDSU took its first lead at 6-4 with a four-run outburst in the fifth, which was highlighted by a three-run homer by Matt Munoz.

In the sixth Campbell brought UNM closer with an RBI single after a double by Josh Melendez. The Aztecs added two in the seventh, however, to take an 8-5 lead.

The Lobos loaded the bases in each of the final three innings, and despite hitting the ball hard numerous times, they could not pull out the win. They did not score in the seventh after loading the bases with one out, but they added one in the eighth and should have had more.

Campbell led off with a single and Alex Allbritton followed with a sharp lineout to the shortstop. Jared Holley walked to put two men on for the top of the lineup and Harris. He also lined out, though, this time to second. Sam Haggerty then came up and smoked a 3-1 pitch deep to left center. The ball missed being a home run by only a few feet, and it easily would have scored both runners if it had not bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double.

Holley was forced to remain at third, so the Aztecs intentionally walked Peterson to load the bases for Mitch Garver. The senior smashed a 2-2 pitch, but it was also on a line and right at SDSU’s center fielder who made the catch to end the inning. That was one of seven line drive outs hit by the Lobos on the evening.

After Hobie McClain kept SDSU off the board in the ninth for the third straight inning, UNM threatened again in its last at bat.

Alex Real led off with a walk and Logan Lippert came in to pinch run. Melendez then also worked a walk and Campbell followed with a bloop single to load the bases with no outs. Allbritton flied out to center, but it wasn’t deep enough to score Lippert, so the bases remained loaded with one many away.

Erik Suarez then came on to pinch hit. He worked the count full and drew UNM’s third walk of the inning to force in a run. That moved the tying run to third and put the potential winning run in scoring position for Harris, who already had three hits on the day.

Unfortunately, though, his sharp grounder on a 1-1 pitch was right at the Aztec second baseman and the speedy junior was thrown out by a step on the game-ending double play.

Campbell led the team with four hits and extended his hitting streak to 17 game in the process. He drove in two to tie Peterson for the team-high and scored twice to lead the Lobos. Peterson went 3-for-3 with two walks and a double, while Harris was the only other Lobo with multiple hits.

McClain was by far the best pitcher of the evening for UNM. The Aztecs pounded out 13 hits in 6 1/3 innings against four other pitchers, but they managed only two against the side-arming righty over the final 2 2/3.

“We have nothing to be ashamed of with the way we played,” Birmingham said. “We’re good. We have another shot at them tomorrow.”

The final game will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team with Robert Portnoy, the voice of the Lobos, providing the play-by-play. Fans can also watch the game for free on the Mountain West Digital Network’s live stream at TheMWC.com.

Notes: Peterson’s 18 home runs are a new career high, and he now has 77 career doubles, which is just one shy of the school record … Kevin Baumgartner got the loss in relief of starter Drew Bridges … it was the first loss for UNM in the MW Tournament since 2010 … Haggerty had his 15th sacrifice bunt of the year in the first, which ties the most a Lobo has had in a single season since 1981.