ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Ever since the Fresno State Bulldogs joined the Mountain West, the University of New Mexico baseball team has had their number, and that trend continued Sunday as Josh Walker pitched a complete game in a 4-1 win. That moved UNM (27-11-1) to 11-1 over Fresno State (18-18) over the last two seasons.
It was career win No. 24 for Walker (5-2), who moved into a second-place tie on UNM’s all-time list. He gave up just four hits and one walk while striking out a season-high four.
“That was a big-league performance,” UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. “For us to win this conference, and we’re now in a tie in the loss column (with UNLV), we need dominant performances from our starters. We can’t always out-hit people.”
Outside of the fourth inning, when the Bulldogs tallied three of their hits and their only run – on a solo home run to left center – the only hit Walker allowed was an infield single in the fifth. He did not allow a single runner past first the rest of the way as he increased his career winning percentage to .800, which is the best ever at UNM.
He threw 80 of his 118 pitches for strikes and kept the ball down, recording 14 groundball outs, including two double plays, in completing his second game of the season. His control was excellent as well as his only walk was with the bases empty and two outs in the ninth inning.
“He was great today,” second baseman Sam Haggerty said. “He pounded the zone with everything. His fastball and his slider were great. That’s what we need on Sundays. They’re hard games to win and he did a great job.”
UNM jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third. Danny Collier doubled off the wall in right, but he pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury and, despite his insistence that he was fine, had to leave the game for Kirby McGuire. Haggerty’s flyout to deep center allowed him to take third, and Alex Real’s single two batters later knocked him in for the game’s first run.
After the Bulldogs tied the game in the fourth, UNM re-took the lead for good in the fifth. Haggerty led off with a triple down the right-field line and scored on another base hit by Real. The Lobos added two more in the sixth on doubles by Jack Zoellner and Aaron Siple and a single from Haggerty.
That was more than enough support for Walker as he led the Lobos to a season sweep of the Bulldogs.
“It was a great weekend for us,” he said. “I love to see us play like that. It was a good three games. We’ve been doing well and I hope we can keep it going.
“We played the game right this weekend. We just need to stay focused, have a good week and get back at it next weekend.”
The win capped off a 5-0 week for the Lobos, and they have now won eight of their last nine games.
“I feel like we’re really starting to click at this point in the season,” Haggerty said. “I think we’re really starting to take off, and we just have to keep going in the right direction.”
The sophomore finished 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI to pace the lineup.
“I had a good day,” he said. “I saw the ball well and was able to pick up some of my teammates.”
Real also finished 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and Siple finished with a pair of doubles in the nine-spot in the lineup as half of UNM’s 10 hits went for extra bases.
The Lobos are off until Thursday when the travel to face San Jose State.
Notes: UNM remained undefeated against Fresno State in Albuquerque, moving to 9-0 all-time against the Bulldogs in the Duke City … Walker is tied with Bob McAulay, who pitched at UNM from 1966-68, with 24 wins … the UNM record holder is Rob Hoover, who accumulated 27 from 1976-79.