March 15, 2013
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The University of New Mexico baseball team opened Mountain West play with a hard-fought 3-2 victory in 10 innings over No. 21 UNLV Friday night to snap the Rebels' 10-game winning streak. Josh Melendez doubled home pinch runner Logan Lippert in the top of the 10th for the winning run.
Melendez didn't appear to mind being dropped to eighth in UNM's batting order out of the leadoff spot Friday as he finished 2-for-3 with a walk, a HBP, a stolen base, and two RBI to go along with his game-winning double.
It was the second straight extra-inning game for UNM (7-9, 1-0), which lost at No. 14 Arizona St. in 11 innings Wednesday night, and it was also the second straight well-pitched game for the Lobos. Just last week the Lobo pitching staff allowed 51 runs in six games. Through 21 innings this week, however, they have only allowed six, three of which were unearned, including both runs the Rebels scored Friday.
Junior A.J Carman bounced back from a rough start against UC Riverside last week to allow only two unearned runs on three hits in six innings. He struck out three and only walked one.
There was no score until UNLV (14-4, 0-1) jumped on the board in the bottom of the sixth. A leadoff single followed by two throwing errors gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead, but the Lobos struck right back to tie it in the top of the seventh.
Melendez led off and was hit by a pitch. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jared Holley and moved to third on a passed ball. Chase Harris then came through with a single to right to knock him home and tie the game.
UNLV jumped back out in front thanks to two more Lobo errors in the bottom of the inning. An miscue by Melendez in center and a throwing error by reliever Will Mathis allowed the Rebels to quickly retake the lead. But once again, UNM tied the score the next half-inning.
Luke Campbell led off and like Melendez the previous inning, he was hit by a pitch. Two batters he was on second with Melendez at the plate. The senior center fielder came through with a single to right to score Campbell and tie the game.
The score would remain knotted at two until the 10th as each team's bullpen pitched effectively.
Alex Real led off the first extra frame with a walk and Lippert was called on to pinch run. One batter later Melendez lashed a double to left that allowed Lippert to score all the way from first with the winning run.
Walker allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning, and the potential tying run moved to second after a sacrifice bunt, but the junior righty got a strikeout and a comebacker to the mound to give UNM its first extra-inning win in four tries this season.
The Lobos only managed six hits, which tied their lowest output of the season, but it didn't matter because the men on the mound were so terrific. The Rebels only managed four hits, which is the fewest UNM has allowed in a game since TCU managed only two against the Lobos on May 6 last season.
Carman, Mathis, Taylor Duree, Aguilar, and Walker combined to strike out seven and walk only one. It was a welcoming sight for a struggling staff.
Aguilar, though, has been a bright spot in the bullpen as he has dominanted all season. In eight appearances spanning 7 2/3 innings he has struck out 10, allowed only two hits and a walk, and has yet to allow a run. Opponents are hitting only a microscopic .087 against him.
The Lobos will look to continue their hot pitching and hope their offense reawakens as they face off against the Rebels again Saturday with an adjusted start time. First pitch has been moved up to 1:05 p.m. (MT) to accommodate fans wishing to attend the MW Basketball Tournament championship games later in the afternoon and evening. Senior Sam Wolff is slated to take the mound for the Lobos.
Notes: Harris was the only other Lobo to record multiple hits as he finished 2-for-6 ... Mitch Garver singled leading off the sixth to extend his hitting streak to 15 games ... this was career win number 991 for UNM head coach Ray Birmingham ... the Lobos also recorded only six hits in their season-opener against Oklahoma St. on Feb. 15 ... it was the fourth straight win for UNM over UNLV, with all the wins coming in Las Vegas ... the Lobos have won seven of eight against the Rebels overall.