STEVENS: Lobos Lose 1-0 Pitching Duel to SDSU's Stephen Strasburg
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/17/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 17, 2009

Box Score

Lobo Baseball
San Diego State 1, Lobos 0
Up Next: Lobos vs. SDSU, 6 p.m. Saturday; noon Sunday
Where: Isotopes Park
Online: GameTracker, live webcast on GoLobos.com
Radio: KDEF 1150 AM

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It was a pitching duel Friday night for seven innings between San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg and New Mexico's John Hesketh, but, unfortunately for the Lobos, Strasburg went the distance, struck out 14 Lobos and the Aztecs won 1-0.

"I'm proud to be a Lobo today," said Lobo coach Ray Birmingham. "We played one heck of a game and the only difference was a long fly ball that went out. John Hesketh pitched his butt off.

"We did things with class and you know where I'm going with that. It was a great game for Lobo fans to see. Our kids competed and he (Strasburg) found out his fastball doesn't work with Lobos, he has to throw the curve ball."

The Aztecs' lone run was produced by a Brandon Meredith home run in the top of the fourth inning. The big Aztec first baseman went low for a Hesketh change-up, struck it clean and the ball carried over the left field wall.

"To be honest, if I had that pitch to throw over, I'd probably throw it again," said Hesketh. "It was low and breaking into the dirt and he just went and got it. I wasn't mad. It was a good pitch.

"I didn't treat the game any different than I would treat any other game. All I was worried about was facing their batters. I did my best to keep it a low-scoring affair."

Hesketh gave his teammates a solid seven innings of pitching striking out six and scattering five hits while giving up three walks. The Lobos also got solid work out of their bullpen from Clinton Cox, Gabe Aguilar, Daniel Grubbs and Cole White, who combined to throw two innings of hitless ball.

Strasburg, considered the No. 1 pitcher in college ball and projected to be the No. 1 pick in the Major League draft, went the distance while striking out 14 and giving up a lone walk. The big Aztec is known for his fastball, which was clocked in the high 90s in a chilly night at Isotopes Park.

But Strasburg did a nice job of working in his breaking stuff against the top-hitting team in the Mountain West Conference. "There is nothing I can fault my team for. They played their butts off," said Birmingham. "I tip my hat to him (Strasburg), but he needs to work on his demeanor."

The Lobos got hits from Ryan Honeycutt, Brian Cavazos-Galvez, Adam Courcha, Daniel Gonzalez and two hits from catcher Rafael Neda.

"I think when we see him again, we'll get to him," said Neda. "He was amazing, but I know we can get him. I just went up there looking for something I could handle."

The loss dropped the Lobos to 28-11 on the year and their 8-5 MWC record drops them out of a first-place tie with SDSU. The Aztecs are now 26-13 on the year and 9-4 in league play. The two teams play against at 6 p.m. on Saturday and at noon on Sunday.

The Lobos had good chances to tie the game in the fifth, eighth and ninth innings.

Adam Courcha opened the fifth by pounding a triple to deep left center. Strasburg then got Gonzalez to ground out to third and backed that up by striking out Mike Brownstein and Max Willett -- UNM's No. 1 and No. 2 batters.

Gonzalez opened the eighth with a single off Strasburg and was sacrificed down to second base on a bunt by Brownstein. Strasburg got a mound visit with Gonzalez on second and one out, but the big righty stayed on the mound and got Kevin Atkinson to ground out to third base. That brought up UNM's top hitter, Ryan Honeycutt, with a Lobo in scoring position.

Honeycutt chopped a grounder between third and short and UNM took a chance on a scoring opportunity against Strasburg and waved Gonzalez around third and into home. He was easily gunned out at the plate and the teams marched into the ninth inning with SDSU up 1-0.

The Lobos made a little noise in the bottom of the ninth when Rafael Neda got his second hit off Strasburg, a grounder between shortstop and third. UNM's Hamilton bunted to advance Cameron Monger, who went in to run for Neda. Monger stole third and all UNM needed was a long fly to tie the score.

Calvazos-Galvez lost the sac-fly opportunity by striking out. UNM's last shot, Justin Howard, got behind 0-2 on the count. Strasburg got his 14th strikeout of the game -- his first complete outing of the year -- by tickling the inside corner on a fastball.

"The Lobos outhit the Aztecs today (Friday)," said Birmingham. "They just hit a big fly that went out."