April 15, 2012
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The University of New Mexico baseball team dropped its eighth one-run game of the season, falling to the San Diego State Aztecs 4-3 on Sunday afternoon in heartbreaking fashion. The loss prevented the Lobos from moving above .500 for the first time this season.
Cody Smith singled to right with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to drive home Steven Pallares with the winning run for the Aztecs. Hobie McClain suffered the loss.
The Lobos wasted another spectacular start by senior Gera Sanchez, who opened the season as the team’s closer. He was perfect through the first four and one-third innings and finished the game with nine strikeouts in six innings. He allowed three runs on five hits, but was literally unhittable during the first portion of the game.
He now has a 2.08 ERA and has only allowed 31 baseruners in 34.2 innings this season. He has 53 strikeouts on the season and is averaging an astounding 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
"We played very well this weekend," UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. "We tied a school record for consecutive weekend series wins with six. We took five out of six from the Aztecs this year. I'm very proud of the boys."
But that was all the support UNM could muster for Sanchez as he stayed perfect into the fifth inning. But a one-out walk and back-to-back hits by San Diego State tied the score at one. The Aztecs were threatening for more with runners on second and third, but Sanchez struck out Pallares and got Matt Munoz to pop up to Alex Allbritton at short to end the inning.
The Lobos, though, struck right back. Ryan Padilla led off with a single. Mitchell Garver continued his excellent play against the Aztecs this season with an RBI double to left-center. Trey Porras then singled up the middle to score Garver. Allbritton sacrificed Porras to second, but the Aztecs made fine catches on back-to-back line drives by Kyle Stiner and Alex Real to keep the score 3-1.
That proved to be huge as San Diego State rallied to tie the score again in the bottom of the inning. The teams then traded zeroes until the Aztecs’ two-out rally in the bottom of the ninth.
A single and a hit batter set the stage for Smith’s game-winning hit. He lashed an 0-1 pitch from Gabe Aguilar to right to knock home Pallares and prevent the Lobos from sweeping the season series against the Aztecs.
The Lobos threatened in the top of the eighth but were unable to push a run across. Padilla led off with an opposite-field single and Garver followed with a walk to put two men on with nobody out. But Padilla was thrown out at third on a sacrifice attempt by Porras, and Allbritton lined into a double play to end the inning.
The Lobos did all their damage with their top six hitters as the bottom third of the lineup combined to go 0-10.
Garver, however, has simply owned the Aztecs this season. In six games against them he is hitting .577 (15-26) with five multi-hit games, nine runs scored, two doubles, a triple, three home runs, and 12 RBIs.
Despite the loss, UNM remains in first place in the Mountain West. The Lobos are tied with TCU at 9-3, but own the tiebreaker thanks to a 2-1 series win earlier this season. The Lobos travel to Fort Worth to face the Horned Frogs for a huge three-game series May 4-6.
"We're still in first place in the conference so we're doing alright," Birmingham said. "We have a good team."
Texas Tech is next up on the docket for the Lobos, though. UNM travels to Lubbock, Tex., for a two-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday before returning home for an eight-game homestand at Isotopes Park.