Lobos win series behind second-straight one-run victory
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico baseball team secured their non-conference series against UC Riverside in the rubber game on Saturday afternoon as the Lobos nailed down their second-straight one-run victory by beating the Highlanders 10-9 out at Santa Ana Star Field.
As was the case in the first two games, the series finale did not have its shortage of offense as the Lobos (18-21) and Highlanders (12-25) combined for 19 runs on 28 hits. For the three-game set, each team hit over .368 as a club and combined for 68 runs on 89 hits.
On Saturday, the Lobos took the early lead for the third-straight game by plating a run in the bottom of the first inning. That run was driven in by Tyler Kelly on a single through the left side that scored Justin Watari, who doubled to left field to lead off the game. The Highlanders knotted the game up at 1-all in the top of the second inning.
— UNM Baseball (@UNMLoboBaseball) April 20, 2019
The two teams then traded scoring blows over the next four innings as the score and lead continued to alternate. A RBI groundout by Jared Mang in the bottom of the third put the Lobos up 3-2, but a two-run top of the fourth put UC Riverside up by a run, 4-3.
A perfectly executed double steal by Brayden Merritt and Reese O’Farrell in the bottom of the inning tied it up at 4-all. The Highlanders then took another one-run lead in the fifth. A Jeff Deimling double to left field in the bottom of the inning knotted the score once more, this time at 5-all.
In the sixth, UC Riverside plated a run for yet another lead change and one-run lead. This time, however, the Lobo response in the bottom of the inning was more emphatic, to the tune of six runs on five hits and a Highlander error.
That big inning was sparked by a one-out hustle double to right-centerfield by Merritt. Derek Marshall Jr. then singled home Merritt to tie the game at 6-all. Watari and Kelly then followed with doubles of their own for the next two runs of the inning. A walk to J. Mang put runners at the corners. The Lobos then executed another perfect double steal with Kelly swiping home and J. Mang taking second. Two batters later, J. Mang scored as Deimling reached on a muffed throw by the Highlander first baseman. That extended the inning to pinch-hitter Adam Adkins and he dropped a RBI double to score Deimling for the Lobos’ sixth run of the inning.
When it was all said and done in the sixth, the Lobos led 10-5.
The Highlanders then used the long ball to hit their way back into the game with two balls leaving the yard in the eighth. The first was a lead off solo homer to make it 10-6. The second was a three-run shot that pulled the Highlanders to within a single run at 10-9. Lobo reliver Chad Smith came on after the second homer and struck out the lone man he faced to end the inning.
The Lobos were unable to add any insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth and took a one-run lead into the ninth. That’s when usual shortstop Hayden Schilling, who was not in the hitting lineup on Saturday, came on for the save.
Schilling retired the first two men he faced, but an error with two outs extended the inning and put the potential tying run on base. Schilling then walked the next batter to put the potential go-ahead run on base as well. With the top home run hitter in the Highlanders’ lineup looming on deck, Schilling beared down and got a full-count swinging strikeout to end the game and put the seal on his third save of the season.
The Lobos will now prepare to hit the road next week with their first two games coming as part of a two-game mid-week series at nationally-ranked Texas Tech. The first game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (MT) on Tuesday, April 23. The second game is slated for a 1 p.m. (MT) start time on Wednesday, April 24.