Shaky start ends in dominant pitching performance at UNLV
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The University of New Mexico baseball team came-from-behind in the middle innings and held on late on Friday night as they won the first game of a three-game weekend set against UNLV, 3-2.
Dominant pitching and timely hitting were the keys to the victory for the Lobos (13-12, 5-5 MW), but early in the game that was not necessarily the case. After a relatively quiet top of the first inning, the Lobos went on defense in support of Friday night starter Justin Slaten in the bottom half.
Slaten walked the first batter he faced on four-straight pitches, and that was a sign of things to come in the inning. After a wild pitch that was compounded by a throwing error moved that leadoff run to third base for the Rebels (16-12, 4-6 MW), Slaten registered his first strikeout of the game. Slaten would then fall behind the next two batters and allowed each to reach base on a single and then a walk.
The single scored the first run of the game for the Rebels. Following a first-pitch infield fly, Slaten then issued his third walk to load the bases. The fourth walk of the inning came in the next at-bat and forced home the second run for the Rebels. Slaten avoided any further damage as he got a strikeout looking to end the inning.
While the first inning was troublesome for Slaten, it quickly became a blip on the radar for what ended up being his night.
Pitching a career-best 8.0 innings, Slaten allowed no more walks, no more runs and just two hits while striking out eight over the next seven innings.
That dominance by Slaten allowed the Lobo offense to fight its way back into the game and that began in the fourth inning with a single run. Jared Mang led off the inning with an infield single to the shortstop. Two batters later, Mang scored the first Lobo run on a single to left-centerfield off the bat of Jeff Deimling.
In the Lobos’ next trip to the plate, UNM pushed across a pair of two-out runs to take a 3-2 lead. This time it was J. Mang who produced a run with his bat as he singled up the middle to score Ediberto Reyes, who walked earlier in the inning. Connor Mang then singled up the middle as well to push J. Mang to second. That set the table for Deimling to collect his second RBI of the game as he singled through the left side to score J. Mang.
That proved to be game-winning RBI for the Lobos as Slaten’s aforementioned dominance got the Lobos through eight innings. In the ninth, the Lobos turned to closer Malachi Emond.
Charged with protecting a one-run lead, Emond was efficient in collecting his sixth save of the season as he sat down the Rebels in order on just 11 pitches.
Game two of the series will take place on Saturday night. First-pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT.