Lobos out-slug Highlanders 11-10
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A day after an offensive slugfest ensued between the University of New Mexico and UC Riverside baseball teams, another one broke out on Friday afternoon as the two teams combined for 21 runs on 30 hits in the second game of the weekend series. This time, however, it was the Lobos who came away with the win as they beat UC Riverside by a score of 11-10.
Friday’s game played out similarly to Thursday’s opener as the top of the first inning was rather pedestrian, which was then followed by a crooked number in the run column by the Lobos (17-21). On Friday, the Lobos plated a pair of runs in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead.
The Highlanders (12-24) tied the game at 2-all in the third inning, but a RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Connor Mang in the bottom of the fourth pushed the Lobos back on top, 3-2. A two-run fifth inning for the Highlanders flipped the score in their favor at 4-3 and looked as though it might have been enough to end the start of Justin Slaten for the Lobos.
— UNM Baseball (@UNMLoboBaseball) April 20, 2019
Slaten would come back for the sixth inning, however, thanks to a huge bottom of the fifth by the Lobo offense as they scored seven runs on six hits and benefitted by a Highlander error as well to take a 10-4 lead. All seven of the runs for the Lobos scored with two outs.
The first blow that inning was a two-RBI single by Justin Watari. Two batters later, the bases were loaded and C. Mang singled home two runs as well. The turning point of the inning followed in the ensuing at-bat. Hayden Schilling grounded to his counterpart at shortstop for what appeared to be the third out of the inning, but the throw was errant, allowing Schilling to reach and Jared Mang to score as well. The very next pitch, Jeff Deimling doubled to left field to score two more runs and cap the seven-run inning.
Unfortunately, the Highlanders did not allow that lead to stay six runs for long as they rallied for five runs on five hits in the top of the sixth inning to make it a one-run game, 10-9. During the rally, the Highlanders were able to chase Slaten from the start and later saddled him with a no-decision after scoring the tying run on a solo home run in the top of the eighth.
Despite the no-decision, Slaten still pitched relatively well as he reached double digits in strikeouts for the third time this season after fanning 10 Highlanders.
With the game tied at 10-all, the Lobos scratched across a run in the bottom of the eighth to take an 11-10 lead. In that eighth inning, Deimling led off with a single to left field. He was then sacrificed over to second base by Tanner Baker. During the next at-bat, Deimling took third on a wild pitch. The Highlanders then issued a walk to Reese O’Farrell to bring up Brayden Merritt and put runners on the corners with one out.
The Lobos were able to stay out of the double play in that situation, but Deimling was cut down at the plate trying to score on a bunt that went to the UC Riverside first baseman for the second out of the inning. While that opportunity did not come through, Watari was clutch in the ensuing at-bat as he swung first-pitch and singled into centerfield, scoring O’Farrell for the go-ahead run in the eighth.
Malachi Emond, who came on and got the final out of the monster sixth inning for the Highlanders, came back to the mound for the ninth looking to secure the one-run win for the Lobos. Emond got a pair of quick outs on a ground out and then a strikeout before the Highlanders put the tying run at the plate with an infield single. That runner ended up not mattering at all as Emond recorded the final out in the next at-bat by fielding a ball back the mound bare-handed, and throwing to first.
The rubber game of this three-game series will be played at Noon on Saturday, April 20 out at Santa Ana Star Field.