May 24, 2006
LAS VEGAS - Records were dropping for New Mexico just as easily as the runs were tonight in the Lobos first game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The Lobos snapped a eight-game losing streak to the Rebels and a seven-game losing streak overall, pounding on the Rebels of UNLV for a 17-2 win.
The win, improving UNM to 29-27 overall, was the Lobos first in the opening round game of the MWC Championships since 2001. The Lobos are now 3-4 in their first game of the tournament.
UNLV took a 1-0 lead in the first as Chris Bonnell reached first safely with runners at the corners and one out. Leadoff hitter Ryan Kowalski scored on the play as the Lobos just missed turning the double play to get out of the inning.
New Mexico grabbed the lead in the second, scoring four unearned runs on four UNLV errors. Sophomore Ian Hollick started off the inning with a walk, which came back to bite Rebel starter Matt Luca as he scored on a three-base error by Luca. In the next at bat, junior Jay Russell reached on a fielding error by Bonnell, allowing junior Matt Foote to scoot home from third. Two batters later, sophomore Jordan Pacheco reached on a throwing error by third baseman Willie Bowman which plated Russell. Pacheco scored the final run of the inning on an error by right fielder Keith Smith.
The Rebels thought they got one run back in the fourth as Albert Zerega laced the ball down the right field line which gave Zach Borba enough time to round the bases and get home. However, the run was erased as Zerega was called out for missing first base.
Junior Chris Carlson extended UNM's lead to 7-1 in the fifth with a three-run home run that cleared the left field fence. Russell drove in Hollick later in the inning, getting out of the box quickly after a soft grounder to short almost resulted in a double play.
One inning later, Carlson scored on a grounder that was sharply hit toward short. Bowman and shortstop Mike Cruz collided and fell to the ground in pain, giving Carlson time to score. Second baseman CJ Lang grabbed the ball and threw to left fielder Zach Borba, who came in and covered third to put out junior Daniel Stovall.
Carlson and Foote put the game well out of reach in the seventh (15-1) as Carlson hit a grand slam for his 21st home run of the season and Foote hit a two-run bomb. With Carlson's home run, he tied the MWC Championship record for most RBI in a game (7).
Carlson went 5-for-6 with four runs scored and seven RBI. He set career highs in hits and RBI and tied his career high in runs scored and home runs in a single game. Foote went 4-for-6 with three RBI and two runs scored, tying his career high for hits in a game. Ryan Kowalski led UNLV, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
Herrera improved to 10-0 with the win, going 7 innings for five hits, one run, one walk and seven strikeouts. Freshman Jordan Salazar threw 2 innings of relief, allowing three hits and one run with three strikeouts in 2 innings. Luca fell to 3-5 with the loss, allowing six hits, eight runs (four earned) and three walks with a strikeout in 4.1 innings.
The Lobos advance to play top-seeded TCU tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Senior right-hander Jesse Perez (2-3, 9.95 ERA) will make the start for UNM.