April 10, 2010
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.-- Senior Cameron Smith smacked a one-out bases loaded single to center field in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the University of New Mexico baseball team to a thrilling 10-9 series-clinching victory over the BYU Cougars Saturday afternoon at Isotopes Park.
Smith used his third hit of the game to up the Lobos to 21-11 overall and 8-4 in conference play. Junior Rafael Neda and freshman Jacob Nelson provided plenty of early offense, combining for six RBI and three home runs.
UNM held a 9-8 lead entering the eighth, but the Cougars (14-16, 4-5 MWC) touched Bobby Mares for a run in the top of the ninth after the right-hander had retired seven of eight batters since entering the game with two runners on in the seventh. The Lobos responded with four straight singles in the ninth from Chris Juarez, John Michael Twichell and Neda before Smith delivered the walk-off knock.
"You never leave a Lobo baseball game early, because you don't know what these guys are going to do," head coach Ray Birmingham said. "They compete with the bats. They are confident with the bats."
The Lobos had already broken an 8-8 tie in the bottom of the eighth, using a Nelson single to center to score Smith and give UNM the 9-8 edge.
Nelson was also integral in UNM's early offense as the Lobos jumped out to a 5-1 early lead through the first three innings. The freshman blasted his second two-run homer in three days in the second inning, while Neda followed with a two-run shot in the third.
BYU broke out for five runs in the sixth inning, however, to claim a 6-5 lead only to have Neda respond with his second roundtripper of the day, a solo shot in the Lobos' sixth inning frame to even the score to 6-6. Each team then put up two runs in their sides of the seventh to make it the 8-8 tie.
Gera Sanchez (1-0) picked up the win, spelling Mares with two outs in the ninth. Sanchez induced an inning-ending flyout to center to with a runner on third to prevent BYU from taking the lead and set up the walk-off opportunity in the bottom of the ninth.
The Lobos travel to Arkansas for a pair of midweek games on Tuesday, April 13 and Wednesday, April 14, both at 5:35 MT before hosting five home games starting Friday, April 16.