April 9, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of New Mexico baseball team split a doubleheader with 10th-ranked Arkansas Tuesday. The Lobos (17-16) shut out the Razorbacks (24-10) 3-0 in game one, before Arkansas rallied for a 4-3, walk-off victory in the nightcap.
In game two the Lobos quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second, but Arkansas scored runs in the second, fourth, and fifth to tie it. UNM was held without a hit after the fifth and the Razorbacks won the game on a two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth.
Josh Melendez led the Lobos offensively in both games. He finished the day 5-for-9 with a double and a run.
The story of the first game was the work of the two Lobo pitchers. Bridges, a freshman who originally came to UNM as a shortstop, was even better Tuesday than he was against Texas Tech last week when he earned his first career win. He went a career-long 5 1/3 innings, allowed only three hits and one walk while striking out three and throwing 63 of his 101 pitches for strikes.
Over his last two starts he has only allowed two runs on five hits – all singles – and three walks. He has six strikeouts and three of the hits he has allowed did not leave the infield.
Walker picked up his second straight multi-inning save. He threw the final three innings in Friday’s 11-5 win at Air Force and went even longer Tuesday. As always he was around the strike zone as he threw 43 of his 61 pitches for strikes. He allowed three hits and a walk and struck out two.
On a day when a stiff breeze was blowing straight in from right-center field, the Lobo offense had its work cut out for it against the vaunted Razorback pitching staff. But while their two righties on the mound held Arkansas scoreless, UNM slowly cracked through.
Arkansas came into the day with an NCAA-leading 1.59 staff ERA and actually lowered it in game one because UNM scored three unearned runs. The Lobos struck for one in the first, one in the third and one in the fifth to give their pitchers all the support they’d need.
In the first the Lobos got on the board without the benefit of a hit. With one out Sam Haggerty reached on an error. DJ Peterson followed with a walk and, one batter later, so did Alex Real to load the bases. A wild pitch allowed Haggerty to come across with the game’s first run.
In the third Haggerty once again got a rally started as he led off with an infield single. He advanced to second on a throwing error and then moved to third on a single by Peterson. Mitch Garver followed with an RBI groundout to increase UNM’s lead to 2-0.
In the fifth Chase Harris led off and was hit by a pitch. Haggerty was also hit by a pitch to put two men on for Peterson. The All-American smashed one under the glove of the Razorback third baseman for an error as Harris came around from second and slid in safely just ahead of the throw from left.
That made the score 3-0 but the final difference could have been much larger. The Lobos left 14 men on base, including the bases loaded in both the sixth and seventh innings, but it didn’t matter due to the fine work of Bridges and Walker.
Bridges was so good he only allowed one runner past first base while Walker only allowed one baserunner in the seventh through ninth innings.
Melendez finished game one 3-for-5 and Haggerty was 1-for-3 with two runs.
The nightcap started much the same way for UNM as the Lobos jumped out to a quick lead in support of freshman righty Taylor Duree, who was making his first career start.
In the first Harris walked and stole second. He was picked off second but a throwing error while he was in a rundown allowed him to advance to third. With one out Peterson singled through the left side to give UNM a 1-0 first-inning lead.
In the second Melendez led off with a single. Alex Allbritton followed and he reached on an error, which sent Melendez to second. Logan Lippert, getting his first start of the season, executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance both runners a base.
Jared Holley followed with a single through the hole between third and short to score Melendez, and Allbritton scored on a sacrifice fly by Harris.
That would be all the Lobos could muster in game two, though, as the Arkansas pitching staff showed why it leads the nation in ERA.
The Razorback offense also finally came to life. Arkansas scored single runs in the second, fourth and fifth innings off three different pitchers to tie the game.
After that, however, both teams traded zeroes. UNM, though, could not manage a hit after the fifth and the Razorbacks finally came through with a run in the ninth.
Two singles, an error and an intentional walk loaded the bases with only one out against McClain. The senior battled back, though, and struck out the next batter on three pitches for the second out of the inning. The next batter, Jacob Mahan, worked the count to 1-1 before lacing a pitch back up the middle give Arkansas the walk-off win.
It was the sole run allowed by McClain in 2 1/3 innings. He struck out three and allowed three hits, all in the ninth.
Melendez and Alex Real both went 2-for-4 and Peterson finished 1-for-3 with an RBI. The other Lobo hit belonged to Holley.
The Lobos return home to Mountain West play this weekend as they host Fresno St. for a three-game set. UNM remains in first place in the conference and it will look to win its fifth-consecutive series to open the MW season. Friday’s game is Pack the Park day at Lobo Field. All fans will receive a ticket for only $2 with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 p.m.
All three games will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team with Robert Portnoy providing the play-by-play.
Notes: Holley was hit by a pitch in game one for the MW-leading 13th time this season, which is as many as Ryan Padilla had all last season to lead the Lobos … Allbritton was 0-for-4 in game one as he saw his career-best 12-game hitting streak come to an end … senior Gabe Aguilar pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in game two … the Lobos walked nine times and were hit by three pitches over the doubleheader … Holley (five) and Haggerty (four) were the only Lobos to record assists in the field in game one … Saturday is Jersey Day at Lobo Field and any fan wearing a jersey will receive a ticket for $3.