Feb. 22, 2008
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico baseball team opened the 2008 season with a victory, out-slugging Eastern Michigan, 16-7, Friday afternoon at Isotopes Park. The win marks the third consecutive home opener won by the Lobos and the first win for new head coach Ray Birmingham.
"That was good to get it (the game) done, but it wasn't good enough," Birmingham said. "We have a lot of things we need to fix."
Senior catcher Drew McDonald was a single shy of hitting for the cycle, but provided a career-tying five RBI, including a first-inning three-run homer to fuel the Lobos.
After a shaky first inning for starting pitcher Bobby LaFromboise, the Lobos opened the first inning down by two, but rallied for five runs. Juniors Mike Brownstein, Max Willett, and Kevin Atkinson each singled to load the bags for senior Matt Hibbitts. Hibbitts stroked a two-run single before McDonald's blast.
LaFromboise settled down after four first-inning walks, allowing only two hits over the next three innings. The Lobos kept the offense coming with runs in the next three innings to go-ahead 11-3. McDonald tripled in the third and crossed home plate on a single by junior Brian Cavazos-Galvez. In the fourth, after both Atkinson and Hibbitts singled, McDonald doubled in the pair to get three-quarters of a cycle in his first three at-bats of the season.
LaFromboise was replaced after the fourth by junior transfer Will Kerr, who pitched 2.1 hitless innings and fanned four in his first appearance as a Lobo. Despite three home runs and a rough ninth inning, Lobo pitching held the Eagles to only nine hits.
New Mexico gained some insurance runs in the late innings. Freshman Rafael Neda went long in the sixth, bringing in Cavazos-Galvez, and putting the Lobos up, 14-3. The Lobos added two more in the sixth with a pair of RBI singles by sophomore Scott Gracey and junior transfer Mike Brownstein. Brownstein finished the day 4-of-5 from the plate.
Eastern Michigan saw hope only in the first and the ninth innings. Senior first basemen Steve Bradshaw smacked a two-run homer for the Eagles in the three-run ninth. Junior transfer Clinton Cox came in from the pen to stop the EMU drive and close out the game.
LaFromboise earned the victory, giving up only four hits, while striking out six. The loss went to Eastern Michigan junior Sean Hoffman, who gave up 12 runs over the course of four innings.
The Lobos continue their series with the Eagles in a doubleheader tomorrow. The first game begins at noon at Isotopes Park.