June 6, 2010
FULLERTON, Calif. --- The University of New Mexico baseball team hoped that a game-ending injury to first baseman Justin Howard would be the only loss of the day, but Minnesota would push the Lobos to extra innings, a 6-4 loss in 10, in a winner's bracket game at the 2010 NCAA Fullerton Regional. UNM (38-21) moves into the consolation bracket and will face host Cal State Fullerton (42-16) at 5 p.m. MT on Sunday, June 6 in an elimination game. The winner of the game will turn around and face Minnesota (32-28) at 9 p.m. MT in the championship game.
"Minnesota pitched their tails off and I knew they would do that," said Lobo head coach Ray Birmingham. "I have the utmost respect for (Minnesota) Coach (John) Anderson and those guys. We competed. It was a game that could have gone either way at any time and our kids overcame a flat tire when Justin (Howard) goes down. That had a big impact on us early, but we fought back. I tip my hat to my kids."
The Lobos took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but lost first baseman Justin Howard in the process. Howard singled through the left side of the field to earn his 119th hit of the season and was second in the nation in batting average coming into the game. Two batters later, Howard was attempting to score as the trail runner behind lead-off hitter Adam Courcha on a one-out double to right field by Ryan Honeycutt. Howard got to the plate at the same time as the ball and collided with Minnesota catcher Kyle Knudson. Knudson was able to complete the double play with a throw down to third to get Honeycutt for the third out, before both players ended up down for the count. Both were checked out by the training staffs with Knudson getting back to the dugout under his own power and Howard being helped back by teammates. Howard will be evaluated tonight for a left knee injury by local doctors.
"If the Yankees lose Derek Jeter, what do the Yankees do," said Birmingham. "You know what I mean. Our kids rallied around and said `we're going to go get'em' and we hope Justin is alright."
Starter Rudy Jaramillo was able to keep the Gophers off the scoreboard for three innings, before Knudson put a solo home run over the left-center field wall in the top of the fourth and Nick O'Shea scored on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Geason, 3-2.
Jaramillo got out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the sixth with a strikeout to Ryan Abrahamson, but gave up the tying run on a double by Michael Kvasnicka to score Troy Larson, 3-3.
Bottom of the seventh, New Mexico took the lead again. With two outs, Allbritton reached on a fielder's choice and got around the bases in the next at-bat, a Daniel Gonzalez double to go ahead, 4-3.
In the top of the eighth, Minnesota tied the game, 4-4, on a balk by reliever Richard Olson. Gabe Aguilar took the mound with no outs and two runners on. Aguilar struck out the first batter he faced and got a ground ball for a Gonzalez to Adam Courcha to a stretched-out Twichell for a double play to end the Gophers inning.
Gopher reliever Scott Matyas started the eighth inning and, after walking Twichell, shut down the Lobos for three innings to get the win. After Aguilar took care of the Gophers in the eighth and the ninth, Minnesota got four straight hits off the sophomore lefty to take the lead, 6-4.