April 19, 2009
Sunday: Lobos 6, San Diego State 5
Up Next: Lobos at Brigham Young (April 23-24-25)
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It was one of those last-man-standing types of games between Lobos and Aztecs. It was like a boxing match between two heavyweights pounding away on each other waiting to see who would land the last blow.
In this case, the last blow came off the bat of Lobo Rafael Neda, who launched a deep-enough fly into right field that sent teammate Mike Brownstein scampering from third with the winning run in a 6-5 Lobo win over San Diego State Sunday at Isotopes Park.
It was a dramatic ninth-inning ending because a few minutes earlier most of the fans at Isotopes Park thought Brownstein had run himself into an inning-ending double play.
It went like this: Brownstein was standing on second base when Lobo Justin Howard pounded a fly ball to center field that was easily run down. Brownstein took off on the pitch and was rounding third base when the SDSU outfielder caught the ball and threw to second base for an apparent double play.
"I'm yelling at Browny, telling him to get back, `What are you doing?'" said UNM reliever Cole White. "And he's rounding third."
It turned out that Brownstein knew exactly what he was doing on the play. He heard the umpire call a balk on San Diego State reliever, Addison Reed. The apparent double play was nullified and Brownstein moved to third on the illegal pitch.
"We were yelling balk," said Lobo coach Ray Birmingham. "He (Reed) rushed through his delivery."
The Aztecs then decided to walk Howard to load the bases. Then Neda stepped up and ended things with his smash to right.
Brownstein was greeting at the plate by a mob of jumping and screaming Lobos, who then proceed to chase down Neda over near first base. On the SDSU side of the field, Reed tossed his glove in disgust.
"Aren't the Lobos fun to watch?" said Birmingham. "This team plays hard and never gets down and never panics. This was dramatic. TV isn't this good. Come to the ballpark and watch the Lobos."
The 6-5 Mountain West Conference win was huge for the Lobos as it pulled them into first place with a 10-5 mark. SDSU fell to 9-6. UNM is 30-11 overall.
The Lobos carried a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning, but a Lobo error helped the Aztecs scratch out three runs in the top of the seventh to take a 4-3 lead. The Lobos tied the game 4-all in the bottom of the seventh when Brownstein singled and eventually scored from second on a single by Ryan Honeycutt.
The Aztecs struck back with a run in the top of the eighth to grab a 5-4 lead.
The Lobos tied the game 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth on a Brian Cavazos-Galvez solo shot that carried over the mound in deep center field. "I've seen him (Nate Solow) at least twice every summer over the past three years," said Cavazos-Galvez. "I felt real comfortable up there."
The Aztecs had a great opportunity in the top of the ninth when they loaded the bases with no outs. UNM's Daniel Grubbs got one Aztec to pop up and then White was called out of the bullpen to clean up the inning.
White got the second Aztec out on another pop up and the Lobo got another Aztec to ground out to third base for the third out.
"That's where you want to be," said White of taking the mound in the ninth inning with the bases loaded.
"You couldn't ask for anything better. That's the way every game should be, where you are waiting for the next pitch, waiting to see what will happen."
The win on Sunday gave the Lobos a 2-to-1 edge in the series with SDSU. The Lobos finish the season with 11 road games and three home games. UNM is at Brigham Young on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Lobos' three homes games are May 1-2-3.
"I'm happy today," said Birmingham. "But win or lose, when you are around a bunch of kids who compete and try to do things as a unit, it's fun.
"This team competes. These are not guys who are first through tenth round draft picks. They are just guys who love baseball and love each other. That's huge to be around."
Brownstein, Honeycutt, Neda and Atkinson each went 2-for-4 against the Aztecs on Sunday. The only other Lobo hit was Cavazos-Galvez's home run. Brownstein scored two runs. Honeycutt had one RBI and scored a run and Neda had an RBI and scored a run. Atkinson had two RBIs.
Rudy Jaramillo got the start and pitched a solid 5.2 innings allowing one run and four hits. White picked up the win out of the bullpen and Solow was slapped with the loss for SDSU. The attendance was 1,307.