April 8, 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas - The Lobos went down to Fort Worth for a conference battle with No. 15 TCU and came out on top, beating the team that has been the class of the Mountain West Conference the last few years, 10-5 .
The final score doesn't tell the whole story, as the game was excruciatingly close up until the final two innings. TCU had a one run lead through six innings, after plating a run early in the game in the second inning. Each team scored two runs in the sixth, while UNM followed with one more in the seventh, tying the game at three all. It wasn't until the eighth inning that the game would be decided, as UNM's junior left fielder Luke Campbell blasted a two-run double into right center, putting the Lobos ahead for good. From there the Lobos added four more runs for good measure, pushing the game out of reach and giving the Lobos the conference victory, 10-5.
"You've got to believe there is a method to this madness," Head Coach Ray Birmingham said in reference to the Lobos' season. "We swung the bats really well tonight against another top-level pitching staff."
Freshman right-hander Jake McCasland had a very solid game for the Lobos, throwing for five innings while surrendering three runs on five hits and striking out two. McCasland received some help from his teammates as well, as the Lobos provided him with the lead, 2-1, after the top of the sixth. Unfortunately, TCU took it back in the bottom of the sixth, going up 3-2.
TCU wasn't about to do the Lobos any favors, as they had their ace Kyle Winkler on the mound. Winkler leads the MWC in strikeouts (61) and is third in ERA (1.05). UNM was able to come away with two earned runs on Winkler, keeping the Lobos in the game through six. Both of UNM's runs came in the sixth inning as shortstop Alex Allbritton had an RBI double down the left field line, while freshman first baseman DJ Peterson brought home Kyle 'Beep' Stiner on an RBI single.
The Lobos' trio of relievers, Richard Olson, Cory Maltz and Gera Sanchez, were able to keep TCU at bay over the final three innings to secure the win. Olson threw for two shutout innings in picking up the win for the Lobos, while Sanchez closed out the final two innings. Maltz faced one batter, surrendering a walk before being replaced by Sanchez. TCU did manage to score two runs off Sanchez in the ninth, after the junior struggled with some control issues. Sanchez composed himself after the two runs scored, however, and finally got the Lobos out of the game.
The star of the game for the Lobos would have to be Campbell. He may have had only one hit on the day, coming off TCU's Stefan Crichton, but that hit proved to be the biggest of the game as it was the one that put the Lobos up for good.
TCU's bullpen proved to be their undoing, as the Lobos put up eight unanswered runs once Winkler left the game. The Horned Frogs' Crichton picks up the loss after giving up six earned runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings of work.
With the win, the Lobos improve to 10-20 (5-2, MWC) on the year, while TCU falls to 20-10 (5-2, MWC).
The Lobos and Horned Frogs lock horns again at 3 p.m. MT tomorrow in game two of the three game conference series. Freshman right-hander Alexis Garza (0-1, 3.27 ERA) will take the mound for the Lobos, while sophomore lefty Matt Purke (3-1, 1.16 ERA) will be on the bump for the Horned Frogs. The game can be heard live via the all access page on GoLobos.com.