April 20, 2013
RENO, Nev. – The rest of the college baseball world should be on alert because the Lobos are coming, and they’re pitching better than they have all season.
UNM rode the hot arms of starter Sam Wolff, Hobie McClain and Gabe Aguilar to a dominating 7-2 victory over the Nevada Wolf Pack Saturday afternoon. It was the sixth straight win for the Lobos (23-16, 13-4) and it clinched their sixth straight series win in Mountain West play. Thanks to UNLV’s victory over San Diego State, the Lobos moved three games ahead of both the Rebels and Aztecs in the MW standings.
Wolff matched a career-long by pitching 6 1/3 innings. He did not allow a run on four hits and four walks. McClain entered with the bases loaded in the seventh and only one out, but got out of the frame without allowing a run. He did, however, allow an unearned run in the seventh. Aguilar pitched the final two innings and allowed a harmless two-out run in the bottom of the ninth.
Offensively Alex Allbritton was the star for UNM as he went 5-for-5 with an RBI a day after being named one of 25 members of the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List, which is given to the best shortstop in the nation. The five hits set a career-high. Josh Melendez extended his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games and went 3-for-4 with his second home run in as many days.
UNM scored the first run of the game when leadoff hitter Chase Harris doubled down the left-field line in the first. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt, senior Mitch Garver drove him in with a sacrifice fly.
In the second, Melendez, who hit a tie-breaking home run in the eighth inning Friday night, led off with his third home run of the year. Harris added an RBI single later in the frame to give the Lobos a 3-0 advantage after one and a half innings.
It was all the Lobos would need because Wolff (3-3) just keeps getting better and better as the season progresses.
He dazzled through the first four innings without giving up a hit. He didn’t run into any trouble until the fifth. With two outs the Wolf Pack were able to scrap together two walks and a single to load the bases. The senior settled down, however, and threw two great pitches to get the next batter to ground out to third to end the threat.
In the seventh UNM added to its advantage when Alex Real blasted a two-out, two-run home run to left field to give the Lobos a 5-0 lead. The home run was Real’s sixth of the season.
Wolff ran into some more trouble in the seventh when Nevada once again was able to load the bases. With one out, the Lobos went to McClain out of the bullpen. The side-arming righty induced a shallow fly ball to left and a ground out to first to keep the Wolf Pack off the scoreboard.
Nevada got an unearned run in the eighth off McClain and a two-out run in the bottom of the ninth off Aguilar, but it did not change the outcome. In fact, the final score does not fairly portray the level of dominance the Lobos displayed Saturday as UNM left 13 men on base. But with the high level the Lobos have been playing at recently, they can afford to leave a baker’s dozen men on base and still pull out an easy win.
Harris finished 3-for-6 with a run and two RBI, while Real and Luke Campbell each had two hits and scored two runs.
Everyone in the country knows the Lobos can hit, though. They entered the weekend seventh in the nation in batting (.321), sixth in slugging (.471), fifth in OBP (.416) and fourth in runs per game (8.0).
Lately, though, the Lobos’ pitching has matched their hitting. UNM has allowed only 20 runs during its six-game win streak while scoring 54 of its own. If the Lobos can keep getting this type of pitching from their staff, they will be a team that nobody wants to face in the NCAA postseason.
The Lobos will look for their second straight MW sweep Sunday at 2 p.m. (MT). Junior A.J. Carman will start on the mound for UNM.
Notes: Jared Holley became the first Lobo since Max Willett at Stanford May 8, 2009, to record three sacrifice bunts in one game … UNM recorded 17 total hits against Nevada and it was the 31 st time this season that they have recorded at least nine … DJ Peterson’s double in the third inning was the 70th of his career, which moves him into second place on UNM’s all-time list behind only Daniel Stovall’s 78.