Lobos Handle San Jose State in MW Opener 14-2
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Lobos didn’t exactly pound the baseball in the third inning on the way to seven runs, but they didn’t need to. Smart batting, a keen eye, and a whole lot of walks led to a seven run third inning on just two hits, paving the way for an 14-2 win over San Jose State in the Mountain West opener for both teams.
For New Mexico, it was the fifth win in a row after winning the final three games last weekend against Niagara and then pulling out a come-from-behind 5-4 win at Arizona on Wednesday. UNM improved to 7-3 overall and 1-0 in the league. San Jose State has now lost two of its last three and is 6-3 overall and 0-1 in the league.
The Lobos got a terrific pitching performance once again from Friday starter Justin Slaten, who went six innings, striking out nine batters, one short of his season and career-high. He allowed just a scratch run and walked just one as well in throwing 110 pitches while improving to 2-0 on the season.
Slaten only struggled in the sixth inning, but with two runners on and one in and topping 100 pitches, her recorded his ninth strikeout, and then got a groundout to second to end that threat.
He was staked to a 9-0 lead with two in the second and seven in the third. In the second inning, UNM got a pair of runs when catcher Reese O’Farrell singled through the right side, sending Tanner Kelley and Connor Mang home.
However, it was the seventh when UNM blew the game open, and they did it over 29 minutes and 57 seconds in an inning that saw 11 batters come to the plate. Hayden Schilling worked a full count walk, and then Jared Mang singled to third. After a popped bunt attempt for the first out, San Jose State starters Andrew Mitchel lost the strike zone. First he walked Connor Mang on four straight, and then he walked Kelly on four straight, bringing in Schilling and making it 3-0.
Derek Marshall then came up and was promptly plunked to make it 4-0. That brought O’Farrell up with the bases loaded, and he walked on a 3-2 pitch and it was 5-0 with just one hit in the inning. UNM got another run without a hit when Brayden Merritt hit a sacrifice fly to left to make it 6-0. After Justin Watari walked, Schilling then laced a two-run single to make it 8-0.
— UNM Baseball (@UNMLoboBaseball) March 2, 2019
If there was any proof it was UNM’s night, with Schilling on first and Watari on third, Schilling left for second too early and was picked off. As the throw went to second, Watari went home and he slid around the tag for a steal of home and a double steal.
That was all UNM needed, although the poured on four more runs over the final two innings. In the seventh Schilling rocketed a triple past first base for two runs, and then UNM scored a run in the eighth on a double by Derek Marshall, Jr, and then a run on a bizarre play. O’Farrell hit a ball to third, and third baseman Troy Viola, who had turned in two stellar defensive plays earlier, grabbed the ball and tried to step on third, but there wasn’t a force play. He then tried to throw across the diamond and spiked the ball into the ground, and Connor Mang walked home.
UNM’s final run came on a bases loaded walk for Schilling, his fifth RBI of the game.
UNM’s bullpen threw three innings with Chad Smith, Nico Garza and Drew Marrufo combining to allow just one run.
NOTES: O’Farrell’s three RBI were the first of his Lobo career … Jared Mang now has a team-best 10 walks on the season … Schilling’s five RBI is a career-high … the 12 walks was the most by UNM’s batters since February 22, 2018 when the Lobos walked 12 times against Central Michigan … Lobo pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts … UNM committed two errors after committing none in the past two games.