May 28, 2010
Lobos at MWC Championship -- San Diego
Friday: TCU 2, Lobos 0; Lobos 10, UNLV 3
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The Lobos' postseason hopes and dreams no longer have anything to do with a baseball diamond or the relentless New Mexico bats. The Lobos and a heroic Jason Oatman lost their bid for the 2010 Mountain West Conference Championship Friday night in a 2-0 shutout handed out by TCU.
The No. 6 ranked Horned Frogs grab the NCAA automatic bid that comes with the MWC tourney title. The Lobos' hopes to end their 48-year NCAA drought now lie within the resume they will place in front of the NCAA Selections Committee. It's an impressive resume. Consider:
-- A win over then-No. 1 Texas.
-- A win over ranked TCU.
-- A second-place finish to TCU in the MWC regular-season.
-- A runner-up finish in the MWC tourney to TCU.
-- 37 wins.
The Lobos will find out their postseason fate at 10:30 a.m. Monday when ESPN televises the draw for the 2010 NCAA Championship.
"I'm proud to be a Lobo," said Lobo coach Ray Birmingham. "Those guys over there (TCU) probably will end up in Omaha (NCAA World Series). We were right there with them all night."
The Lobos got a gutsy pitching effort Friday night from Oatman, who earlier in the day picked up a save in UNM's 10-3 win over UNLV. Oatman went eight innings against a quality lineup of Horned Frogs. He gave up a single run in the first and second inning and then sat down the Frogs in six straight scoreless innings.
But the Lobos failed to back up their pitcher with key hits and made a few too many mistakes on the base paths to beat the Frogs -- or reach the scoreboard. The Lobos scratched out several rallies, but TCU continued to come up with big plays or big pitches.
The Lobos outhit TCU, 9-to-8, and neither team committed an error. UNM got hits from Max Willett, Cameron Smith, Alex Allbritton (2), Chris Juarez, Jacob Nelson, Justin Howard (2) and Adam Courcha. UNM placed three players on the All-MWC tourney team: Justin Howard, Mike Lachapelle and Ryan Honeycutt. TCU catcher Bryan Holaday was the tourney MVP.
The Frogs jumped first. TCU's Brance Rivera opened the bottom of the first with a single. He sprinted home on a double by Bryan Holaday.
TCU extended its lead by one in the bottom of the second. Aaron Schultz reached on a single and stole second. He put the Horned Frogs up 2-0 on long single by Jantzen Witte.
The Lobos lost an opportunity in the top of the fifth with runners at first and second with two down. A pitch bounced away from TCU catcher, Holaday, and UNM's Max Willett bolted for third. He hit the base before the tag, but skidded past the bag and was tagged out reaching back to the bag. It was the third UNM runner of the game to be removed from the bases on a putout.
The Lobos threatened again in the sixth. Courcha doubled pushing Daniel Gonzalez to third. UNM had two runners aboard with one out and Justin Howard at the plate. Howard chased a high pitch out of the zone to move the out count to two. Neda worked his way into a walk to load the bases. Honeycutt grounded out to first to end the inning.
The inning ended with a little drama when TCU's starter, Steven Maxwell, was tossed by the home plate ump for unsportsmanlike conduct for chirping at a Lobo coach. Foster was removed from his six-inning shutout and Trent Appleby took over the mound.
Appleby quickly got into trouble. He walked Willett and the Lobo promptly stole second. Appleby then hit Cameron Smith with a pitch to put Lobos at first and second with one out. Appleby was pulled for Tyler Lockwood.
UNM's Allbritton then appeared to drive in a run with a slap into right field where the ball was bobbled by the right fielder. However, Willett made a soft turn at third and had to stay on the bag. The Lobos lost the opportunity to score when Gonzalez hit a chopper to second that TCU turned into a double play.
The Frogs turned another double play to end the eighth inning. UNM had a glimmer of hope in the ninth when freshman Jacob Nelson chopped a single up the middle with one out. Willett then fanned to place the Lobo hopes on the bat of Smith. The Lobo slapped a grounder to short and TCU went to second for the force.
The Frogs left the field with dreams of Omaha dancing in their heads. The Lobos will await the decision of a committee.
Lobos 10, UNLV 3:
Senior shortstop Daniel Gonzalez's bases-loaded triple highlighted a seven-run first inning on Friday as New Mexico beat UNLV 10-3 in the 2010 Conoco Mountain West Conference Baseball Championship at San Diego State's Tony Gwynn Stadium.
The win advanced the No. 2-seeded Lobos (37-19) to Friday night's championship game against No. 1 seed TCU.
New Mexico, which is 20-1 this season when scoring 10 or more runs, sent 11 batters to the plate in the first inning. The Lobos jumped out to a 3-0 lead following run-scoring singles by catcher Rafael Neda, designated hitter Ryan Honeycutt and left fielder Cameron Smith. Gonzalez, who is hitting .750 in tournament play, followed with a triple to right-center and later scored on a wild pitch, pushing the Lobos' lead to 7-0.