April 3, 2012
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The University of New Mexico Lobos baseball team lost its second-straight close game, dropping a 7-5 decision at New Mexico State. The Lobos held the streaking Aggies below their NCAA-leading average of 10 runs, but couldn’t produce enough offense to pull out the win and prevent New Mexico State from winning its 14th-consecutive game.
It was the Lobos’ third loss this season to the Aggies in the Rio Grande Rivalry, and followed a tough 4-3 loss at the hands of Fresno State on Sunday, April 1.
"New Mexico State has a good club," UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. "They out-pitched us tonight. The difference in the game was walks."
New Mexico State leads the nation in drawing walks and drew seven in the game compared to just one for the Lobos.
UNM did not want to fall behind early to the offensive-minded Aggies, but that’s exactly what they did. New Mexico State scored once in the first and twice in the second to take an early 3-0 lead.
The Lobos struck back in the fourth, though. DJ Peterson, the nation’s fourth-leading hitter who was back in the lineup after not starting the previous two games because of an injury, doubled down the left field line to lead off the inning. Freshman Ryan Padilla, who entered the game fourth in the nation in batting amongst freshmen, singled to right center to knock home Peterson.
The Aggies, however, struck for three more in the bottom of the fifth to put the Lobos in a 6-1 hole.
But the Lobos, showing the same resilience they used in winning the Mountain West tournament championship last season, fought back.
With one out in the sixth Padilla doubled to center. The next batter, Josh Melendez, knocked him in with a double to left center. Two batters later, John Pustay singled in the hole between first and second to score Melendez and cut the Aggies lead to 6-3.
The Lobos threatened to take the lead in the eighth. Padilla led off and reached on an error. Melendez followed with a walk, and Kyle Stiner singled up the middle to load the bases. The Lobos came into the game batting .464 (13-28) with the bases loaded, and the team came through in the clutch again.
Pustay singled through the right side again to score Padilla. One batter later Trey Porras hit a line drive shot to the outfield, but it was right at the Aggies’ center fielder Kyle Phillips. The sacrifice fly was still enough to score Melendez and cut the lead to 6-5, but that was all the damage the Lobos could do.
New Mexico State added one more in the bottom half of the inning, and the Lobos went down in order in the ninth to seal the loss, which dropped the Lobos to 12-15 on the season.
Pustay led the Lobos with three hits in four at bats and two RBIs. Padilla finished 2-5 with two runs and one RBI, and Mitchell Garver also went 2-5.
UNM stays on the road this weekend with a three-game Mountain West series against Air Force. The Lobos currently lead the conference with a 5-1 record and will look to improve that mark against the struggling Falcons who are only 6-20 on the season.