March 8, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On a cold, windy night at Isotopes Park the University of New Mexico baseball team rallied from early 6-0 and 8-3 deficits to defeat UC Riverside 11-9 Friday night in front of 558 fans and earn its third straight win. DJ Peterson hit a game-tying home run in the eighth, and Luke Campbell drove in the winning run with an RBI double later that inning.
Gabe Aguilar pitched 2 1/3 perfect innings of relief to earn his first win since 2010.
The home run was Peterson’s fifth, and he has now homered in every series so far this season.
“Nobody panicked,” Aguilar said. “That’s what (UNM’s head coach Ray Birmingham) always tells us: not to panic. They’re going to have to score runs to beat us because we’re heavyset on offense, so we have to have the bullpen shut it down and that’s what we did today.”
Did they ever.
After starter A.J. Carman allowed eight runs in 2 1/3 innings, the relievers came through in a big way. Alex Estrella, Taylor Duree, Aguilar, and Josh Walker combined to allow only one unearned run the rest of the way, striking out seven and walking only one in the process.
“That’s good to see,” Peterson said of the bullpen’s effort. “They came in and got the job done.”
“We had four base on balls, three were by the starter and only one was by the next four relievers,” he said. “Taylor Duree did his job again tonight, which was great. Aguilar was outstanding. (He) was outstanding. (And for) Estrella to hold them to one run at that time was a big deal.
“Our bullpen saved the day.”
The Lobos (5-6) fell behind early as Carman endured his roughest outing of the season. Coming into the game he had only allowed one in 15 innings.
After the Highlanders (7-6) jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the second, UNM scored three in the bottom of the frame, but Riverside added two more during its next at bat. That’s when UNM’s fortunes began to change.
The bullpen shut down the Highlanders lineup and the Lobos began to chip away at the lead. They scored one in the fourth on an RBI double by Peterson, and then tied the game in the fifth.
Campbell led off with a single and advanced to third on a double by Alex Real. Sam Haggerty then walked to load the bases for freshman Jared Holley. The Lobos’ second baseman came through with an RBI single, part of a three-hit night for him. Alex Allbritton then came through with a single down the right field line to score two more and send Holley to third. Josh Melendez then knocked him home with a sacrifice fly to tie the score.
The Highlanders scored an unearned run in the top of the sixth to retake the lead. They had the bases loaded with nobody out but Duree and Aguilar worked out of the jam to keep the Lobos in the game.
The teams then traded zeroes until the bottom of the eighth when the Lobos biggest offensive threats came through.
Earlier in the game Birmingham told Peterson he was worried he was being too aggressive so he told his third baseman to sit on a particular pitch regardless of the count.
In the eighth Peterson sat on a fastball and got a fastball. Even still, he made a mistake. However, sometimes when an All-American makes a mistake it turns out for the best.
“Obviously I wasn’t trying to do that,” said Peterson who finished 4-for-5. “I was actually trying to go up the middle and get a single to get the inning started, but he threw me a fastball in … and I hit it well enough to send it out of the yard.”
That was the first extra-base hit UCR reliever Mark Garcia had allowed all season, but it wouldn’t the last in the inning as the middle of the Lobo lineup started rolling.
Cleanup hitter Mitch Garver followed Peterson’s blast with a single to left. He then stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Riverside’s catcher. He tweaked his quad, however, and had to leave the game. Campbell followed with a double that landed on the line in left to score pinch runner Logan Lippert and give UNM its first lead of the game.
Haggerty drove home Campbell with another double down the line in lift to provide UNM some insurance.
Josh Walker came on in the ninth and allowed a leadoff, pinch-hit single, but he struck out two of the next three batters to earn the second save of his career and first of the season.
“It feels pretty good that we were able to come back as a team,” Aguilar said. “They put up a five-spot (in the first) but the bullpen really rallied behind Estrella, Duree, and then Walker came in to close it out. Plus our hitting. We have DJ to (help) bring us home.”
It was another well-rounded effort for the Lobos as they pounded out a season-high 18 hits one game after recording 17 Wednesday night against LaSalle. Six Lobos had multi-hit games and every starter had at least one. Campbell, Haggerty, and Holley scored two runs apiece, while Allbritton, Melendez, and Peterson each drove in a pair.
The teams meet Saturday for a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. at Isotopes Park. Kevin Baumgartner will start the first game for the Lobos, which will be broadcast live by ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team. Robert Portnoy will provide the play-by-play. The second game will follow 30-45 minutes after the conclusion of game one.
Notes: Peterson has now homered in every series this season … it was Aguilar’s longest outing since going 3 1/3 against UNLV on May 26, 2010 … it was only the second win of Aguilar's career, with the other coming on May 22, 2010 at Utah ... Garver and Campbell both extended their hitting streaks to 10 games … Walker’s previous save came on March 11 last season against Gonzaga … Garver now has 207 career hits, 26 behind Rafael Neda for the all-time lead among UNM catchers … it was Birmingham’s 989th career win as a head coach.