April 7, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The University of New Mexico baseball team dropped its series finale 1-0 to Air Force on Saturday. The Lobos won the first two games of the series by scores of 19-0 and 17-2, but only managed four hits against the Falcons’ starter, Evan Abrecht.
Gera Sanchez was the hard-luck loser for UNM. He made his first start of the season and struck out a career-high 13 batters while allowing only seven hits in seven and one-third innings. But the Lobos’ offense that was so prolific during the first two games of the series abandoned them. They grounded out an astonishing 20 times against Abrecht.
“He was outstanding,” UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said about Abrecht. “He was up to 93 mph with a power sinker and good command of all his pitches. His team played great defense and we kept hitting groundballs.”
The lone run of the game came in the fourth. Noah Pierce singled to left with one out for the Falcons. Brian Sicher then doubled down the right field line to drive him home.
The loss snapped the Lobos’ 22-game win streak against the Falcons, and was only the second time they have been shutout this season. It was the first time UNM had been shut out by Air Force since May 13, 1988.
The loss does not diminish the outstanding performance by Sanchez, however. His ERA on the season now stands at 1.57, and he has struck out 44 batters in 28 and two-thirds innings pitched, which equates to 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
“Gera was unbelievable today,” Birmingham said. “We pitched very well all series in a yard that is tough to pitch in.”
The Lobo pitching staff was indeed dominant against the Falcons. Austin House, Josh Walker, Jake McCasland, Sanchez, Gabe Aguilar, and Hobie McClain combined to allow only three runs on 21 hits while striking out 35 over the three games.
The three runs allowed set a UNM record for the fewest runs allowed in a three-game road series in school history. It is also the fewest number of runs the Lobos have ever allowed in a Mountain West series, home or away. Thirdly, it is the fewest runs UNM has allowed in any three-game series since allowing only one to Northern Arizona March 10-11, 1972.
The Lobos dropped to 14-16 overall, but remain in first place in the Mountain West with a 7-2 conference record.
“We are in first place,” Birmingham said. “Winning this series was huge.”
The Lobos return to action Monday and Tuesday at Isotopes Park against the Arizona State Sun Devils. These are the first home games for UNM since the team played Stephen F. Austin in a two-game series Mar. 27-28. The team won’t play at home again after the series against Arizona State until hosting Florida Gulf Coast Apr. 20-22.
Both games will be broadcast live by ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team, and CBS College Sports will nationally televise the game on Tuesday.