Lobos return favor with 2-0 shutout
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – A night after being shutout 8-0, the University of New Mexico baseball team bounced back and returned the favor by shutting out San Diego State 2-0 on Friday night out at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
The shutout victory for the Lobos (22-28-1, 10-16-1 MW) is the first of the year and the first since UNM shutout Central Michigan 6-0 back in the early part of the 2018 season. It is also the Lobos’ first road shutout since they blanked Sacramento State 1-0 in 2016.
A total of four Lobo pitchers combined in the shutout effort. Justin Slaten got the start on the mound and turned in a typical outing. The junior right-hander pitched into the seventh inning and officially worked 6.1 innings, scattering four hits, allowing no runs and striking out six.
— UNM Baseball (@UNMLoboBaseball) May 18, 2019
The first three Ks in the game for Slaten ended innings as he did so in the second, third and fifth innings. The final three Ks of Slaten’s line came in succession and closed out his outing. The first two strikeouts during that stretch got Slaten out of a jam as faced runners at second and third and one out. The final strikeout of the game opened the seventh inning.
With a total of six punchouts in the game, Slaten ran his season total up to an impressive 98. That is the second-most strikeouts by a Lobo pitcher since the 2007 season. Additionally, thanks to what was likely his final outing as a Lobo, Slaten ended his junior campaign with an impressive 2.51 ERA; the ninth-lowest in program history. In 82.1 innings pitched, Slaten also limited opponents to a .215 batting average against.
After Slaten’s outing was through, the Lobos used two pitchers to get out of the seventh with Drew Marrufo and Brian Coffey recording an out each.
The work of Slaten, Marrufo and Coffey to that point kept it a 1-0 lead for the Lobos. That initial run for UNM scored in the top of the fourth as Reese O’Farrell singled home Jared Mang, who reached base after being hit by the first pitch of the inning.
In the top of the eighth, the Lobos pushed across a huge insurance run and made it a 2-0 game. That run was scored thanks to a one-out double by Tanner Baker. Following that double, Baker advanced to third on a spectacular catch in right-centerfield that robbed Derek Marshall Jr. of a hit and possibly an RBI. With Baker at third, he later scored on a passed ball during the ensuing at-bat.
Now staked to a 2-0 lead, the Lobos went to the bullpen once more, this time for closer Malachi Emond. Emond struckout the first batter he faced and then worked around a one-out walk to get out of the eighth. In the ninth, Emond got the first two outs with ease with the first coming on a looking strikeout. After a two-out single brought the potential tying run to the plate, Emond put the nails in his 10th save of the season as he got a swinging strikeout to end the game.
Emond now has tied for the second-most saves in a season by a Lobo and is fifth all-time.
The Lobos and Aztecs will decide the winner of the series on Saturday afternoon as the rubber game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. (MT) start.