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Lobos Swept in DH with Fresno State

by Frank Mercogliano

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s bat woke up just a tad too late in each game of a doubleheader, but it just wasn’t quite enough.  New Mexico twice got the tying or winning run to the plate in the ninth inning after trailing by six runs, but UNM couldn’t cap off either comeback, losing 10-8 in game one and then 11-9 in the nightcap.  The two losses sent UNM to 9-19 overall and 6-11 in the MW while Fresno State improved to 15-19 overall and 12-12 in the Mountain West.

The two teams finish the series at noon at Santa Ana Star Field.  Both teams have not announced a starting pitcher.

Game one saw UNM celebrate Jackie Robinson Day as UNM played its first home games in over a month.  UNM was originally schedule to celebrate against San Jose State in early April, but that series and two subsequent ones were canceled.  The Lobos wore special state flag pride jerseys that were yellow with red trim, mimicking the state flag of New Mexico.  The Lobo jerseys also all had No. 42 and “Robinson” on the back, with the regular player numbers in the front.

UNM started Nathaniel Garley in game one, and he struggled, allowing five runs in just 2.1 innings.  He was followed by Riley Egloff, who allowed four runs in 1.2 innings of work.  It was 7-0 Fresno State in the bottom of the fourth when UNM got back into the game.  Kyler Castillo homered to left center making it 7-1, and then after Kyle Landers double and a Harry Fullerton single, Willie Cano unloaded on a Jamison Hill pitch, hitting ball way over the left-center fence, hitting the Rudy Davalos practice center about halfway up the wall to make it 7-4.

Fresno State got two of those back when they loaded the bases off Egloff in the fifth.  He gave way to Miguel Reyes, Jr., and Reyes nearly escaped unscathed.  He got Matt Ottino to line out, and it should have been a double play but Mack Chambers, who turned in sparkling play after sparkling play, couldn’t get the ball out of his glove quick enough.  Reyes then got a strikeout and with two down he had Andrew Kachel at a 2-2 count, but he allowed a two-run single to make it 9-4.

UNM inched back with a pair of runs on a groundout and an error to make it 9-6 after seven, and UNM made it 9-7 with a run in the eighth that scored on a double play.  Fresno State tacked on a run to make it 10-7 it matched UNM’s run scoring on a double play.  That set up the ninth where UNM had a chance.  Adam Schneider tripled with one out, and he came home on a single by Kyler Castillo to make it 10-8.  That single moved Mack Chambers to third after he bunted his way on and then moved to second on a wild pitch.  That brought Jacob Gutierrez up with the tying run at first and one out, but he hit into UNM’s third double play of the game to end game one 10-8.

In the nightcap, UNM got out to a 2-0 lead when Kyle Landers singled and went to third on a Cano single.  Jarrett Gonzales hit a pop-up down the line that Fresno State first baseman Ivan Luna made an incredible catch on, diving away from the plate to make the snag, but it allowed Landers to walk home.  Jacob Gutierrez than skied a ball into shallow left-center that Ottino misplayed into a run-scoring double.  The Bulldogs scored three in the top of third to take the lead for good against Justin Armbruester.  Ottino made up for his gaffe with a screaming home run to make it 2-1, and then three straight hits netted two more runs to make it 3-2.

That went to 7-2 when Fresno State singled in a run and then Zach Morgan followed at the back end of the fifth with a long three-run shot to make it 7-2.  Ottino hit a second homer, this off Justin Flebbe and then EJ Andrews, Jr. followed with one of his own to make it 9-2.

That’s when UNM’s bats woke up again.  It was 10-2 at the stretch, but UNM would score seven times in its final three at bats.  First, Mack Chambers extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a monstrous two-run home run that cleared the trees down the line in right, and later in the inning Fullerton knocked in Castillo, making it 10-5.  UNM got it to 11-7, and it should have been 11-8 except for an odd play that saw Ray Birmingham attempt to protest the game and then be forced to rescind it.

It happened with two outs and no one on base.  Landers threw his bat out for a clean hit to center, and then Chambers doubled.  Castillo then hit a fly to shallow left center that fell in no-man’s land to score two, and a wild throw by Edwards sent Castillo trying for third.  He slid in safely, colliding with the third baseman Andrew Cachel.  Cachel went down and lost the ball, and Castillo saw it and raced home to make it 10-8.  However, he was sent back because third base umpire Billy Haze called time on his own despite the ball rolling towards left field.

That missing run proved big in the ninth.  Down 11-7, UNM’s first two batters reached before back-to-back strikeouts left it up to punch hitter Cole Posey.  Posey laced a triple to left-center to make it 11-9 and bring the tying run to the plate in Russell, but his comebacker was snagged by pitcher Tommy Hopfe, who tossed to first for the first out.

The Lobos were led offensively by Fullerton and Castillo, who each had five hits on the day.  Chambers, Cano and Landers each had four hits as UNM racked up 15 hits in each game.  Both UNM starters, Garley in game one and Justin Armbruester in game two, took the losses.

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