Feb. 22, 2004
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - In a game that featured extra innings and a near no-hitter, the end result was the most improbable outcome either team could imagine - a tie. The New Mexico baseball team and Northwestern played to a 10-inning 3-3 tie in the final day of the Ultimate Dugout Baseball Fiesta Tournament Sunday afternoon at Isotopes Park. The reason? Northwestern had to catch a flight, and with the depature looming, both coaches agreed to a tie.
The Wildcats (2-3-1) led 3-1 after 7 1/2 innings and appeared to be on the way to Chicago with two victories in the tournament. Sophomore lefty Dan Brauer was tossing a no-hitter and cruising after retiring 12 of the last 14 Lobo batters. In the top of the eighth, Brauer got the first two batters out, but then walked leadoff batter Matt Young. Young advanced to second on a balk, and then scored all the way from second on an infield error by Wildcat shortstop Jon Mikrut on the next play. After the error cut the lead to 3-2, Wildcat head coach Paul Stevens decided to take Brauer out. Brauer threw 117 pitches in 7 2/3 innings of work, including 10 strikeouts.
The Lobos (0-2-1) took full advantage of Brauer's absence. Senior co-captain Sean Murray (Albuquerque, N.M.), the next batter, crushed a double to left-center for the first UNM hit, scoring Ryan Barba from first and tying the game at 3-3. But that would the last run of the game, although both teams had chances to score in the ninth and 10th innings.
The Wildcasts had runners on second and third in the ninth with one out, but with the Lobo infield in, freshman Matt Foote (Albuquerque, N.M.) made a diving stop and threw out Caleb Fields at the plate, preventing the winning run to score. Reliever Kevin Letz got out of the inning on a groundout.
In the bottom of the ninth, UNM put runners on first and third with one out, but the threat ended on a 1-6-3 double play. In the 10th, Foote led off with a walk and advanced all the way to third on a Young sacrifice bunt. The Lobos didn't take advantage, however, and ended the game with two popouts.
Northwestern took an early 3-0 lead after three innings on seven hits. New Mexico scored its first run in the fourth on a two-base error and two groundouts.
The Lobos were held to just two hits in the game, while the Wildcats collected 11. The Wildcats did struggle in the field with three errors (all of UNM's runs were unearned).
Sophomore Darren Coltrinari pitched five innings in the start, allowing three runs on eight hits. The Lobo bullpen was highly effective, surrendering only three hits in five innings of work, including four strikeouts. Mike Smith, Jesse Kibler, Jackie Smith and Kevin Letz supplied the relief for UNM.
No. 23 Nebraska claimed the tournament title in the first game of the day at Lobo Field, topping Kent State 22-9 to go a perfect 3-0 in the tourney.
New Mexico returns to action next weekend (Feb. 27-29) for the Domino's Pizza Aggie Classic in College Station, Texas, hosted by Texas A&M.