May 11, 2012
Las Vegas, Nev. --- Sitting with a 4-2 lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning, things looked oh-so-good for the New Mexico Lobos. Just like that, it went oh-so-wrong. UNLV scored three in the sixth, and two in the eighth as the Rebels took advantage of some poor defense as the shorthanded Lobos dropped the series opener 7-4 on Friday night.
The loss, coupled with TCU's 10-0 win over Air Force puts UNM one game behind the Horned Frogs with five to play.
Up 4-2, UNM pitcher Austin House was cruising along into the sixth inning, when everything seemed to unravel. Trent Cook opened the inning with a single, and then he moved up a base on Denny Higa's single. After a sacrifice bunt, catcher Erik Vanmeetren tied the game at 4-4 with a two-run single to right field. House got T.J. White to fly out for the second out, but Joey Swanner tripled past right fielder Ryan Padilla to give UNLV a 5-4 lead.
The Rebels would tack on two insurance runs in the eighth as UNLV plated on a run on a throwing error by shortstop Kyle Stiner, UNM's fourth error of the game, and a double by Swanner.
The Lobos committed an uncharacteristic four errors in the game, the second most this season behind the five they committed against Arizona State in a 15-6 win over the Sun Devils at Isotopes Park. Part of that can be attributed to the double-play combination of Stiner and Ben Woodchick. Stiner, normally the second baseman, moved to shortstop with the injury to Alex Albritton, and Woodchick had spent most of the season in left field.
Regardless, UNM had built a 4-2 lead with two in the first and single runs in the fourth and sixth. In the fourth UNM took a 3-2 lead with Jacob Nelson singled home Josh Melendez, who opened the inning with a single before stealing second and advancing to third on an error. Melendez' stolen base was his 20th in 21 attempts this season.
In the sixth, UNM pushed the lead to 4-2 when Ryan Padilla doubled with one out, followed by a triple by Melendez. The Lobos failed to capitalize with a runner on third and one out, a situation that they would rue in the next half inning.
The game started well for the Lobos with two runs in the opening inning as UNM lead 1-0 just seven pitches into the game. Mitch Garver opened with a single and advanced to second on an error. He was promptly driven in by Ben Woodchick's single to center field. Woodchick would eventually come around to score on a sacrifice fly by Melendez.
That lead didn't last as UNLV got a bases loaded walk and single to even the score at 2-2 in the first.
House (5-5) went seven innings, allowing six runs, four earned, striking out five. Erick Fedde (5-4) got the win for UNLV allowing four runs, two earned, in 7.1 innings. Zack Hartman got the final five outs for his seventh save.
The team teams play game two of the weekend series on Saturday at 3 p.m. Mountain Time.
NOTES: UNM has lost four straight at UNLV, the site of the Mountain West tournament ... Josh Walker will throw for the Lobos on Saturday ... UNM outscored UNLV 36-10 in sweeping a three-game series at Isotopes Park two weekends ago ... D.J. Peterson, who is fourth nationally in batting average, went 1-for-5.