ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A tight, exciting game turned disastrous late for UNM Friday night against UNLV. The Lobos (8-5-1, 0-1) committed four errors in the final two innings that led to five unearned runs as the Rebels (9-3, 4-0) pulled away late for an 8-2 victory in front of 723 fans on a chilly, windy evening at Lobo Field.
The trouble began with two errors in the eighth and came from two of UNM’s most reliable defenders. Jered Meek booted a groundball to start the inning for his first career error, and then Chase Harris dropped a sloping line drive in right for his first career error in 163 chances. A sacrifice bunt moved both men into scoring position ahead of a sacrifice fly, a hit batter and a balk that put two men across the plate to break a 2-2 tie.
UNLV then scored four in the ninth, three of them unearned, to provide the final score.
UNM entered the game leading the Mountain West in defense with a .983 fielding percentage and just nine errors in 13 games. Jonathan Cuellar (1-1) saw both unearned runs in the eighth charged to him and was the hard-luck loser.
The expected pitcher’s duel between Lobo starter Drew Bridges and UNLV’s Erick Fedde, who is a potential first-round pick in the MLB Draft this June, took a few innings to develop as both starters were a little wild.
In the second each team loaded the bases with one out, and each team scored a pair of runs. UNLV got a two-run, two-out single to take the lead, and UNM’s runs came in a more unconventional fashion.
With two outs and Sam Haggerty at the plate with the bases loaded, a pair of wild pitches allowed Ryan Padilla and Meek, who had singled earlier in the inning, to score and tie the game.
Both pitchers settled down after that and eventually found their groove. Bridges finished with two runs allowed on five hits and five walks in 6.1 innings. Fedde went six innings and allowed two runs on four hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
Padilla was the only Lobo with a multi-hit game and finished 2-for-4 with a run scored.
The teams will meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. at Lobo Field. The game will be streamed live on GoLobos.com, and ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM will broadcast the game. Junior lefty Colton Thomson (1-1, 2.81) will start on the mound for the Lobos.
Notes: The win was UNLV’s first in Albuquerque since 2009 … Jared Holley was hit by a pitch in the seventh, his team-leading fifth this season … it was the 20th career HBP for Holley, which is only two shy of the top 10 in UNM history in only 64 career games for the shortstop ... the game was delayed 15 minutes in the bottom of the ninth due to the lights going out.