Stevens: Lobos Fall 8-2 To ASU Despite Outstanding Relief From Garza
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/18/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 18, 2011

Box Score

Lobo Baseball - At Arizona State
Arizona State 8, Lobos 2
Saturday: 1 p.m., Lobos at Arizona State (DH)
Sunday: 12:30 p.m., Lobos at Arizona State

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

TEMPE, Ariz. - There were two outstanding pitching efforts Friday night when Lobos battled the No. 11 ranked Arizona State Sun Devils. One came off a Sun Devil arm and the other stellar performance came from New Mexico's true freshman, Alexis Garza.

Unfortunately, for the Lobos, Sun Devil Brady Rodgers' effort came while Arizona State bats were forming a fat 8-0 lead. UNM's Garza was super, shutting down the powerful ASU bats for four-plus innings and allowing three ASU hits.

But the Lobo pup didn't take over the mound until the fourth inning when UNM was standing deep in that 8-0 hole.

"You have to tip your hat to Alexis," said Lobo coach Ray Birmingham. "For a freshman to come out and shut out the No. 11 team in the nation tells you why I'm so excited about this pitching staff. Now we have to get our bats going early and try to turn this series around.

"We made a few young mistakes, but I'm proud of the way this team fought back."

New Mexico (0-1) gets three more shots at ASU as the teams battle in a 1 p.m., doubleheader on Saturday and end the four-game series with a 12:30 p.m. start on Sunday.

Birmingham said he wanted to throw his one-senior Lobos at the best teams in the nation and test them by fire. The Lobos saw some red hot Sun Devils early on Friday with the ASU heat coming from both the mound and the plate.

The Lobos learned why the Sun Devils' Riccio Torrez won the Pac-10 battling title in 2010, as the junior third baseman tagged the Lobos for five RBI in the first four innings alone as ASU ran to that 8-0 lead and held the Lobos off for the win.

Torrez's first blast was a leadoff homer to left in the bottom of the third, but he did further damage to the Lobos with a three-run blast in the fourth. ASU scored four in that frame to grab its 8-0 lead.

ASU got a solid start from Rodgers, who went five innings allowing two hits while striking out five Lobos and walking none. UNM's Gera Sanchez got the start and was pulled for Garza in the fourth inning after ASU scored four.

It might have been easy for a young UNM team to roll over after falling in an 8-0 hole. Instead, the Lobos fought back to load the bases in the top of the seventh. UNM dodged a bullet with the bases jammed and no outs when ASU's shortstop Deven Marrero booted a sharp grounder that could have produced a much-needed ASU double play. UNM's Mitch Garver scored from third on the error and the Lobos still were looking at a full boat with no outs.

UNM got its second run in the inning when Trey Porras singled up the middle, scoring Jacob Nelson from third.

The Lobos got a bad break at that point as ASU tried to turn a double play, got the out at second, but the throw to first went wild and two Lobos crossed the plate. A field ump ruled interference on UNM's Porras sliding into second giving ASU the double play and returning all Lobos to the bases.

UNM's Ben Woodchick struck out looking and a big Lobo inning was turned into an 8-2 ASU lead going into the bottom of the seventh. Neither team scored the rest of the way in.

The Lobos had two players with multi-hit nights as Porras and Nelson both went 2-for-4. UNM ended the game with eight hits to 11 for ASU. The Lobos had four errors and ASU had two miscues.

UNM's Sanchez picked up the loss allowing eight runs (six earned) in his three-plus innings of work. He had a single strikeout against three walks. Garza had two strikeouts and no walks in facing 17 Sun Devil batters. ASU's Alex Blackford relieved Rodgers after the fifth inning and shut the Lobos out in the eighth and ninth after struggling through UNM's seventh-inning rally.