Stevens: Big Nevada Innings Doom Lobos in 10-1 Mountain West Loss
April 21, 2013
New Mexico Lobo Softball - Mountain West Action - At Lobo Field
Sunday: Nevada 10, New Mexico Lobos 1 (Nevada wins series 3-0)
Wednesday: UTEP at New Mexico, Noon/ 2 p.m., doubleheader
GoLobos.com: GameTracker, Game Recap, LoboTV, Complete Stats
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
At the end of a three-game sweep handed out by Nevada at New Mexico's expense, Lobo Coach Erica Beach made no excuses.
"All and all we just have to step up our game and play at a better level," said Beach Sunday after Nevada put up a 10-1 rule-rule, six-inning Mountain West win over New Mexico at Lobo Field.
"We can be tougher. We can make better plays on defense. We can make better pitches in the circle."
It was the Wolf Pack from Reno, Nev., who were making most of the plays Sunday in posting the program's first conference sweep since 2009. The win was the fifth straight for Nevada and puts them a half game out of first place in the Mountain West. The win bumped Nevada to 27-19 and 7-5 in MW play while UNM fell to 19-28 and 3-9 in league play.
The Mountain West is pretty much divided into two halves at this point of the season. Nevada is in a battle with San Diego State, Colorado State and Fresno State at the top. The Lobos, UNLV and Boise State are in a struggle to stay out of the cellar.
The Lobos will play host to UTEP Wednesday at Lobo Field in a doubleheader that begins at noon. The Lobos get the weekend off and return to Mountain West play for a three-game series at Fresno State that begins on May 3.
The Lobos were handcuffed at the plate most of Sunday by sophomore Megan Dortch, who moved to 10-9 on the season. UNM's Kaity Ingram got two hits and the Lobos' only RBI when New Mexico took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. The senior from Tucson singled up the middle to score Jordan Strostrand, who walked.
The only other Lobo to register a clean hit off Dortch was Kari Gutierrez, who singled in the second with one out and was stranded. The Lobos left six runners on base and Nevada stranded eight members of their Pack.
"We are still leaving too many runners on base," said Beach. "We have to continue to get better at that. It's a huge part of the game and until we are better at that we're not going to push enough runs across. We just have to keep fighting and keep learning from these games."
The Wolf Pack delivered a physical blow on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth by posting five runs on the home team. The blow also had a psychological element as all five runs came with two outs.
Nevada's Megan Sweet pounded a three-run double with the bases juiced. Sweet was on second for only a short time before Erin Jones homered for the second time in the series. Sweet's double off UNM starter Kaela DeBroeck followed a walk to Karley Hopkins.
"One thing we have to work on is not allowing free runners getting on base from the pitching standpoint, making people earn every base they get," said Beach. "That hurt us pretty badly today.
"When you only need one more out to get out of an inning, you want to close that door and not give them extra opportunities. They capitalized on our mistakes. Two-out rallies are hard to come by and they did a great job on that."
Said DeBroeck: "They are a good offense. They are a great offense. Give credit to them. But they were not as good as we made them look sometimes."
The Lobos went through three pitchers: DeBroeck, Lisa Rodrigues and Kari Gutierrez with DeBroeck walking four and Rodrigues walking three of the four batters she faced in the sixth. Those free bases helped Nevada throw out another five-run inning. Gutierrez induced a double-play grounder off the first Nevada batter she faced to help UNM get out of the inning.
Still, the 10-1 lead sealed Nevada's win. The Wolf Pack is hitting .311 as a team and has scored 258 runs so far in 2013.
"We got out of some tough innings," said Beach. "One big inning deflates the balloon a little bit. It's hard to recover after a five-run inning. We have to keep those big innings from happening. That's kind of been one of our (problems) this year. We have to make sure that we are tougher through all seven innings."
Said Ingram: "It's disappointing. We need to work on firing on all cylinders. We need to put it all together at the right time and that's just not happening."