March 17, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Lobos outworked, outhustled, out-powered and outhit the visiting San Diego State Aztecs for an 11-2 victory in front of 1,712 fans at Isotopes Park Saturday. The Lobos now hold a 2-0 series lead heading into the final game Sunday at noon MT.
Lobo starter Austin House was simply dominating. The big right-hander from Albuquerque allowed only two unearned runs on four hits over seven innings to earn his first win of the season. He struck out four and has not allowed an earned run in his last 21 and one-third innings. Seventy-four of his 109 pitches were strikes.
"It feels good to finally to get (a win) under the belt," House said. "The hitters are by far doing their job, so that helps a little bit. Getting a quick early lead puts less pressure on me. They get rolling. All those guys did a great job."
House's teammates certainly were rolling offensively, especially the bottom half of the lineup. The five through nine hitters in the Lobo lineup combined to go 12-22 with 11 RBIS and seven runs scored.
"I'm seeing the ball well," Garver said. "I've been working hard with coach (Birmingham). I was struggling the past few weeks to put solid contact on it. I started simplifying things and good things started happening."
"All the kids are working at it," UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. "Everybody is chipping in."
Just like Friday night, the Lobos jumped out to a quick lead against the Aztecs. Padilla led off the second with an opposite-field single to left. He advanced to third on a double to center by Garver and scored on a groundout by Suarez. Garver then scored on an Allbritton single two batters later.
UNM did most of its damage in the third, however. They sent 10 men to the plate and scored five runs to chase San Diego State's starter, Travis Pitcher. Coming into the game Pitcher had only allowed five runs all season, but the Lobos torched him for seven in only two and two-thirds innings.
Kyle Stiner and DJ Peterson led off the frame with back-to-back walks. After Josh Melendez fouled out, Padilla singled to right to score Stiner. Garver then smashed a triple to deep right field to drive in both Peterson and Padilla. Suarez then singled over the shortstop on an 0-2 pitch to drive home Garver. He advanced to second on a groundout by Real, and scored on another single by Allbritton.
The Lobos struck for two more the very next inning. Peterson led off with another walk. It was the eighth consecutive time he reached base, a season-high for the Lobos. Two batters later Garver laid down a perfect bunt single, advancing Peterson to second. Suarez then walked, loading the bases. On a full count, Real laced a single up the middle to score both Peterson and Garver.
The Aztecs' two runs came in the sixth. Two-out hits by Dillon Bryant and Cody Smith put runners on second and third. House was set to get out of the inning, but Allbritton misplayed a ball at short and both men scored. They were the first runs of any kind that House had allowed in 14 innings.
"The first couple of games it was tough, just a grind," House said. "I was just trying to find what I needed to get going, but just competing is all it is."
"I'm so proud of that kid," Birmingham said about his junior starter. "He's a New Mexico kid. He's a kid that pitched very limited time in high school, but I believed in him. He had a growing process as a freshman and sophomore, but now he's a junior and he's everything I hoped he would be."
The win was the fifth in the past six games for the Lobos, after they swept the previously undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs last weekend at Isotopes Park.
"I'm seeing everybody pitch in," Garver said. "Anybody that comes up to the plate is going to do their job.
"It's good for the confidence of the team. We're building more of a team unity with the whole experience."
The Lobos will look to complete the sweep tomorrow at noon at Isotopes Park. The time of the game has been moved up to accommodate San Diego State's travel schedule. Senior Rudy Jaramillo will start on the mound for UNM.
"We got the series win and that's good," House said. "If we can go out there and sweep then that's even better."
Asked if his team might already be looking ahead to TCU's visit to Albuquerque next weekend, Birmingham shot that down immediately.
"One game at a time, baby, one game at a time," he said. "Tomorrow is huge. We've got to win tomorrow."