Feb. 17, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico Lobo baseball team opened its 2012 season Friday at Isotopes Park with a 5-3 loss to the Nevada Wolf Pack. The Lobos were unable to get their bats on track, managing only five hits and striking out 12 times. Sophomore Braden Shipley allowed only two hits and struck out seven in five shutout innings to earn the win for Nevada. Junior Austin House suffered the loss after allowing four runs on seven hits in seven innings.
"I was worried about their excitement and aggressiveness, and tonight we got beat by the changeup," Lobo head coach Ray Birmingham said. "We pounded a lot of balls into the ground and struck out swinging early in the count. We couldn't make the adjustment and hit the ball the other way."
The Lobos left nine men on base and managed only one hit in eight chances with men in scoring position.
"The pitcher's not going to lay it in there for you, so we have to go back and think about what happened," Josh Melendez said. "We have to understand what we did wrong and come back tomorrow. Austin threw real well for us, and also Bobby (Mares). We couldn't help `em out. We couldn't produce enough runs to beat these guys."
Melendez was the only Lobo with consistent success at the plate, reaching base five times. He singled, tripled, walked three times and scored a run. The rest of the team managed only three hits in 29 at-bats.
"I thought the excitement of the first ballgame got in our way," Birmingham said. "I thought their kid (Shipley) pitched really well. I thought Austin pitched really well for that left-handed lineup he had to face. He competed and kept us in the ballgame; Bobby did too. The thing that I was really happy about is that we pitched."
The Wolf Pack opened the scoring in the third inning, and it was the bottom of the order that got them going. Number seven-hitter Austin Byler led off the frame with a single, and Joe Kohan followed with a single two batters later. Leadoff man Jay Anderson followed with a single to score Byler, and Kewby Meyer singled home Kohan with two outs.
Nevada struck for a run in the fifth without the benefit of a hit. Byler walked to start the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice by Garrett Yrigoyen. He then advanced to third on a wild pitch by House and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Kohan.
The Lobos scored their first run of the season in the sixth. Melendez led off the inning with a triple to right-center and scored on Mitchell Garver's groundout. The Wolf Pack scored once more in the top of the seventh, but the Lobos struck back in the bottom half of the frame.
With two outs Kyle `Beep' Stiner lined a double to right, and DJ Peterson followed with a shot to deep straight-away center. Anderson couldn't make the catch as he climbed the hill in center, and Peterson ended up on third with a triple. With Melendez at the plate, the second Wolf Pack pitcher, Daniel Levine, threw a wild pitch allowing Peterson to score and cut the Wolfpack's lead to 4-3.
Nevada scored once more in the top of the eighth, however, and the Lobos couldn't manage another hit the rest of the game.
Despite the loss, Birmingham found some positives in his team's performance.
"We hit some balls hard today, right at some people, and I thought we pitched well," he said. "We could have played better defense, so we got some things to fix. But the key for me is pitching, and I thought we pitched well enough to keep ourselves in the ballgame.
"It's a long road; lot of games to play. It's not how you start, it's how you finish."