Lobos Win 7-6 With Two in the Ninth
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Down 6-5 in the ninth and down to its last strike, New Mexico kept its hopes alive with a fisted bloop single, and the shocked San Jose State by scoring two runs on a throwing error with two out in the ninth as the Lobos won their sixth straight game with a 7-6 come-from-behind win.
New Mexico now moves to a perfect 2-0 in conference play and 8-3 overall, and San Jose State drops to 0-2 in the Mountain West and 6-4 overall. New Mexico now gets a chance for a season-opening conference sweep on Sunday at noon with Brian Coffey on the hill.
Down 6-5 entering the ninth, the Lobos were looking for their second ninth inning rally in the last three games after winning 5-4 at Arizona with a 3-spot in the ninth. Justin Watari opened the ninth with a walk, and that brought up Hayden Schilling. Schilling ran the count to 2-1 before showing bunt, but that pitch was outside. After a strike to run the count full, he popped up to left.
That brought up Jared Mang, who popped up to first, but the ball fell after first baseman Nick Knecht got tangled up with Watari. However, San Jose State recovered for the easy force out, and that meant it was up to Tanner Baker to keep UNM’s hopes alive. Down to his last strike, Baker just got a piece of a curve ball to stay alive, and on the six-pitch, he fisted a blooper to center that just made it over the outstretched glove of shortstop Aaron Pleschner, and Mang crossed to third.
Designated hitter Tyler Kelly then took a strike before hitting what seemed like a harmless grounder to Troy Viola at third. Viola gathered and threw short of first, the ball kicked past Knecht and down the right field line. Mang scored easily to tie it and with Baker running on contact, he made it all the way around ahead of the throw to win it for New Mexico.
The Lobos were behind the 8-ball almost from the get-go, as Nathaniel Garley scuffled through six-plus innings. He allowed 12 hits and didn’t record a strikeout, but he was in line for the win after UNM scored five unanswered for a 5-4 lead. Blake Walden entered and coaxed a fly ball that scored a run and tied the game, but he induced a 5-4-3 double play to escape further damage.
— UNM Baseball (@UNMLoboBaseball) March 3, 2019
San Jose State took a 4-0 lead with a run in the first and three in the second. Those three in the second came on four straight hits off Garley and a wild pitch, although he also got a key double play to limit the damage.
UNM got a run back without a hit in the bottom half of the second as Kelly walked and then Connor Mang’s sacrifice bunt was thrown away by Viola. Kelly eventually scored on a groundout by Reese O’Farrell.
UNM tied it in the fifth with three runs, all coming after there were two out and no one on base. Jared Mang walked and moved to second on a balk. He scored when Baker singled to center. Kelly then doubled down the line to move Baker to third, and Connor Mang brought them both home to tie it at 4.
UNM got its first lead in the bottom of the sixth when the Lobos again took advantage of a Spartan error. Watari walked and went to second on an errant pickoff throw, meaning he was able to score on Hayden Schilling’s single.
The win went to Malachi Emond, who threw 1.1 scoreless innings of relief. Fineas Del Bonta-Smith was tagged with the hard-luck loss.
NOTES: UNM was 2-66 in its previous 68 games when trailing after eight innings, going back to a 6-5 comeback win over Texas Tech on April 20, 2016 … UNM was outhit 15-9 … UNM turned three doubles plays, two on the ground and a line-out 6-3 double play … UNM made a lot of changes, and Zack Doak played first base in the ninth inning, his first collegiate action.