May 25, 2006
LAS VEGAS - Fifth-seeded New Mexico held on for a 12-10 win over Utah today in the loser's bracket of the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The Lobos, now 30-28 overall, stay alive in the double-elimination tournament to face fourth-seeded UNLV in a rematch of their opening game tonight.
The Lobos were handed a 1-0 lead in the first after Utah starter Eric King surrendered two singles with two outs. Ute shortstop Ryan Khoury was charged with a throwing error in sophomore Ian Hollick's at bat, allowing junior Chris Carlson to score.
UNM extended its lead to 4-0 with three runs in the second. Sophomore Jordan Pacheco blasted a sacrifice fly to deep center, bringing home junior Chris Dabbs. Carlson doubled to center two batters later, bringing home freshman Zach Arnett and senior Ryan Barba.
A sharply hit chopper by Barba in the third resulted in another unearned run for the Lobos as Arnett scored on a fielding error by Erich Kemp at third. Two innings later, three singles to start the fifth, including a RBI-single from Arnett pushed the lead to 6-0.
Right-handed senior Nate Melek mastered the Utah hitters through the first five innings, allowing just one hit and one walk despite the glaring sun and steaming conditions on the field. In the sixth, Melek started to wear down, allowing a two-RBI double to Tyler Kmetko followed by a two-run home run to Bret Baldwin, which cut UNM's lead to two runs (6-4).
Junior Daniel Stovall led off the sixth with a single to left. With two outs, Dabbs singled to left, plating Stovall for a 7-4 lead. But Khoury, the MWC Player of the Year, tripled to the wall in right field in the top of the seventh, cutting the lead one as two runs scored. Kmetko tied the game on a chopper back up the middle, causing head coach Rich Alday to replace Melek with freshman Chad Itokazu. Itokazu, after giving up a quick single, got a strikeout and line out, stranding two Utes in scoring position.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Hollick looped a soft liner over Khoury's head a short, giving Lobos the go-ahead run in Pacheco. Junior Matt Foote followed with a sharp liner that dropped just fair inside the left line behind third and rolled several feet into the outfield, driving in Barba and Carlson for a 10-7 advantage.
Barba homered to dead center with two out and Stovall drove in Carlson with a double off the wall in center in the eighth, giving UNM's bullpen five runs to work with in the ninth.
A leadoff Ute single followed by a double ended Itokazu's afternoon as junior Damon Miller came in to close out the game. Miller gave up two-RBI singles with no outs still in the inning, cutting the lead to three runs. Miller forced a grounder to short and Barba, Pacheco and Stovall turned the double play. Pinch hitter Scott Malone ended the game, fouling out on a high pop up to Hollick at third.
Stovall led the Lobos, going 4-for-6 with a RBI and a run scored. Pacheco, Barba, Carlson and Dabbs all collected three hits with Barba and Carlson scoring a team-high three runs. Carlson and Foote drove in a team-high two runs. Baldwin was 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored while Kmetko was 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored.
Itokazu improved to 3-5 with the win while Greg Krause fell to 4-1. Itokazu went 1.2 innings for five hits, two run and one strikeout while Krause went 2.0 innings for four hits, four runs, two walks and a strikeout. Melek's line finished at 6.1 innings, seven hits, seven runs, two walks and two strikeouts. Miller allowed two hits, one run and one walk in 1 inning.