May 20, 2010
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah-- The payback factor is still alive as the Lobos go at the Utah Utes today (Friday) in game two of a three-game series. However, despite the 5-2 loss to Utah on Thursday, New Mexico did manage to grab the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Mountain West Conference Tournament.
You could say the Lobos got a bye with a little help from their friends, although the San Diego State Aztecs probably can't be considered pro-Lobo in anything.
Still, the Aztecs' win over UNLV on Thursday bumped the Lobos far enough away from the Rebels to hand UNM the No. 2 seed and that all-important, first-round bye in the MWC tourney to be held in San Diego.
TCU, the No. 1 seed, also will receive a tourney bye. The Lobos are still looking to fatten their NCAA resume by sweeping the final two games at Utah.
Lobo senior Willy Kesler took one on the chin Thursday in Utah, despite striking out 10 Utes. Kesler's mistake was giving up a couple of long balls that propelled the hard-hitting Utes to an early lead in the 5-2 Utah win at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
Kelser gave up five earned runs and picked up his second loss of the season. The Lobos fall to 34-18 on the season and 13-8 in league play. The Utes improve to 22-25 and 10-12.
Going into the series, Lobo coach Ray Birmingham was wary of Utah's C.J. Cron's power and the talented Ute quickly proved Birmingham right by getting to Kelser with a two-run shot in the first inning.
The Utes went long on Kesler again in the third inning when Gavin Green launched a solo shot that put Utah up 3-0. The Lobos cut Utah's lead to 3-1 in the top of the fifth when senior Daniel Gonzalez scored from third base on a wild pitch by Utah starting pitcher Jordan Whatcott. Gonzalez had reached third on a one-out triple.
The Utes came back in the bottom of the fifth to score two more runs off Kesler. Green got his second RBI of the game with a one-out single to left that scored Tyler Yagi from second base. Green advanced to second on a throwing error by Lobo catcher Rafael Neda and was singled in by Michael Beltran for the Utes' last run of the game.
The Lobos made another dent on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth when junior Ryan Honeycutt hit a solo homer. The game was more of a pitching duel than a hitting duel as both the Lobos and the Utes had six hits in the game. The Lobos had no multi-hit performances while the Utes got their six hits from three players: Cron, Green and Beltran.
The Lobos' series with Utah can be heard on 101.7 FM The TEAM. For more information, visit www.GoLobos.com.