April 21, 2006
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Utah's Greg Krause intentionally walked sophomore second baseman Jordan Pacheco, putting runners at first and third with one out, to face junior left fielder Jay Russell in the bottom of the eighth. Russell made the Utes pay, doubling to the gap in left center and lifting the Lobos (25-12, 7-3 MWC) to a 8-5 win. With the win, head coach Rich Alday's squad is just one win shy of matching its entire win total of the 2005 season.
Utah's Ryan Khoury led off the game with a full-count home run to left for a 1-0 lead. But right-handed senior Nate Melek settled in, allowing just two hits after that over the next 5 innings.
The Lobos took advantage of a catcher's interference call on the Utes' Adam Frank with one out, scoring five unearned runs on four hits and two walks. Junior first baseman Daniel Stovall ignited the run with his double to center and sophomore catcher Drew McDonald capped the inning with a two-RBI single up the middle.
Khoury singled through the left side to kick off the sixth inning, improving to 3-for-3 at that point, needing just a triple to hit for the cycle. Another single and a home run that barely stayed fair down the left field line from Bret Baldwin pulled the Utes within one at 5-4.
After striking out the first batter and walking the second one, Melek was relieved by freshman Chace Lankford. Lankford picked off the runner at first and got a fly out to end Utah's threat. Lankford made quick work of the Ute hitters in the eighth, needing just 11 pitches to end the inning.
Freshman right fielder Dane Hamilton ignited the Lobos in the bottom of the eighth, leading off with a first-pitch double to center. After senior shortstop Ryan Barba sacrificed him over to third, Pacheco took the intentional walk. Following Russell's key double, junior designate hitter Chris Carlson singled through the left side to bring Russell in for the final run.
Lankford gave up a two-out double to left center, allowing one Utah run to score. But he forced the hot-hitting Khoury to ground out to third to end the game.
Melek improved to 5-4 with the win, going 6.1 innings for six hits, four runs, two walks and five strikeouts. Lankford earned his second save, allowing three hits, one run and no walks with a strikeout in 2.2 innings. Josh Cooper fell to 3-5, giving up eight hits, five unearned runs, six walks and five strikeouts in 6.2 innings.
At the plate, Hamilton led New Mexico, going 2-for-3 while Pacheco and Carlson finished 2-for-4. Russell and McDonald drove in a team-high two runs each while Pacheco scored a team-high two runs. Khoury led the Utes, finishing 3-for-5 with a RBI and two runs scored.
The teams return to the field at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow to finish the MWC Preseason Tournament game that was started in San Diego on Sunday, April 2. The Utes lead 11-4 through 8 innings. After that, the teams will play another game as the Lobos host Pack the Park. All tickets are $2 and include admission to the spring football game at University Stadium at 12:30 p.m. The first 500 fans at the baseball game will receive free Lobo mini bats.