March 30, 2012
FRESNO, Calif. - The University of New Mexico baseball team exploded for seven runs in the seventh inning against Fresno State Friday night, en route to a 9-3 victory. It was the first of eight-straight road games for the Lobos, who recorded 12 hits. It was the
eighth time in the last nine games UNM recorded at least 10 hits.
The big inning turned a 3-2 deficit into a 9-3 lead, and came courtesy of several big hits, two of which came from likely sources, and one from a less likely source.
With one out, pinch hitter John Pustay singled to bring DJ Peterson, who came into the game seventh in the nation with a .462 batting average, up to the plate. Peterson smacked a two-two pitch out of the park for his sixth home run to put the Lobos on top 4-3. He has
already matched his home run total from last season.
Josh Melendez followed with a single and advanced to second on an error. Freshman Ryan Padilla was then intentionally walked. Alex Real struck out, but Melendez and Padilla executed a double steal to put runners on second and third. The Bulldogs then intentionally walked Kyle Stiner to bring Alex Allbritton to the plate.
Allbritton came into the game batting just .217 with 23 strikeouts, but he came up big in this situation for the Lobos. He cleared the bases with his third triple of the season to increase the lead to 7-3.
Trey Porras was hit by a pitch, which brought up Mitchell Garver, last week's Mountain West Player of the Week. Garver knocked home both Allbritton and Porras with a double to finish the scoring in the inning.
The offensive outburst supported a tremendous performance by Rio Rancho-native Josh Walker (2-2), who made only his second career start. He went the distance for the Lobos' first complete game this season. He allowed only three runs on nine hits and, perhaps most importantly, zero walks. He struck out five and threw 81 of his 112 pitches for strikes. His performance kept the Lobos in the game long enough to erupt for their big inning.
"Josh was lights out," UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. "He threw strikes at 88-94 and changed speeds. He made New Mexico baseball proud."
The discovery of Walker as a reliable starter could be vital for a team that has, at times, struggled to find consistent pitching outside its usual weekend rotation of Austin House, Rudy Jaramillo, and Sam Wolff. The Lobos play eight more weekday games, including two against No. 14 Arizona State, and will need all the pitching they can get.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring with two runs in the second, but it could have been worse. They had the bases loaded with only one out, but Walker got both Patrick Hutcheson and Jordan Luplow to pop up to Allbritton at short, ending the threat.
This allowed the Lobos to tie the score the very next inning. Peterson knocked Porras home with a double, and Erik Suarez scored when Padilla reached on an error by Fresno shortstop Chris Mariscal.
The Bulldogs scored a two-out run in the bottom of the fifth to re-take the lead and set the stage for the Lobos in the seventh.
Peterson finished 2-4 with three RBIs to raise his average one point to .463, Garver went 3-4 with two RBIs, and Allbritton ended up 2-5 with three RBIs.
The two teams will meet in a doubleheader Saturday. House will start game one, scheduled for 3:05 p.m. (MT), and Jaramillo will take the bump in game two.