Lobos Walk-Off Trailblazers, Go 2-0 to Start Dixie State Tournament
ST. GEORGE, Utah— The Lobo softball team continues to find ways to win, with Friday’s games against Southern Utah and Dixie State proving to be no exception.
In game one against SUU, UNM took the early lead and buckled down late in the game after the Thunderbirds cut the lead to two and had the tying run at the plate. In the second game, the Lobos battled back from down three to take the lead, then continued to respond when Dixie State answered, ultimately walking off with the 7-6 victory behind a two-out rally.
Reyan Tuck and Olivia Birkinshaw each hit .571 on the day with four hits, with Tuck accounting for two RBI and Birkinshaw one RBI. Andrea Howard delivered with four hits as well, two going for triples against Dixie State, recording two RBI and a 1.000 slugging percentage. Inserted into the lineup in game two against the Trailblazers, Sydney Broderick proved clutch with two RBI, one on a sacrifice fly and the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh.
In the circle, Amber Linton pitched a complete game in the 5-3 Lobo win against Southern Utah, and it was a win by committee in game two, with Emma Guindon starting, Brianna Sanchez and Ashlyn Roberts coming on in relief, and Guindon closing the game, pitching 6.2 innings.
For the 10th time this season, the Lobos set the tone by scoring in the first inning, using patience at the plate to lead to runs.
New Mexico batted around in the first inning with four walks, two of which led to runs coming in, as the Lobos got out ahead 4-0. Peyton Robinson led off with a four-pitch walk, with Ashley Archuleta moving her over with a single up the middle. A fielder’s choice by Howard put runners on the corners and Leslie Romero brought in the first run on the next at-bat with a single through the left side of the infield. Janae Cameron walked to load the bases and Tuck kept the inning going with an infield single to the third baseman that scored Romero. Consecutive walks by Birkinshaw and Martinez plated two more runs before the inning ended.
Linton and the defense retired the Thunderbirds in order in the bottom half of the inning, putting the Lobos quickly back to work at the plate. Archuleta led off with a single to left and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Howard singled to left to put the first two runners on again, and following two fielder’s choices that put runners on the corners, Howard added a fifth Lobo run on a wild pitch.
While SUU had its first baserunner reach in the second, the Thunderbirds didn’t get on the board until the fifth inning, scoring three runs on four hits, all singles. Linton avoided further damage with two strikeouts to close the fifth, leaving a runner on base.
The Lobos tightened up on defense for the final two frames, retiring the side in order in both the sixth and seventh to record the 5-3 win.
Linton struck out seven without allowing a walk and threw 64 strikes on 101 pitches. With the win, the sophomore improved to 7-2 on the season and threw her fourth complete game.
Dixie State was the first to strike, plating three runs in the top of the second on three hits and an error, but the Lobos answered with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
Taryn Young started the rally with a single up the middle and Birkinshaw moved her around to third with a double down the right-field line. Tuck singled to the shortstop, but in doing so, Young scored for the first run. Broderick successfully sacrificed to left field to score Birkinshaw to cut the deficit to one at the end of the second inning.
After going three up, three down in the top of the third, UNM kept the bats going, scoring two more runs on two hits in the third to take the lead. UNM needed just three at-bats to take the lead, with a Archuleta single to left and Howard bringing the freshman home with a triple down the right-field line. Romero followed that up with a sacrifice fly to center that allowed Howard to tag up and score for the 4-3 Lobo lead.
Dixie State tied the game in the top of the fourth, and threatened to take the lead in the fifth but the Lobo defense held tough.
The momentum shifted in the fifth inning, with the Lobos battling out of a one-out, bases-loaded situation with a swinging strikeout on a full count and a grounder to Archuleta at second. That defensive stronghold appeared to provide a spark for the Lobos, as Robinson led off with an infield single to short, and was advanced to second on a fly ball to left center by Archuleta. Howard hit her second triple of the game to score Robinson to help New Mexico retake the lead. UNM added a second run following a Young walk and stolen base and Birkinshaw putting the ball in play, with the ball mishandled by the pitcher and allowing Howard to score.
The Trailblazers responded with two runs of their own in the sixth to tie the game and again seemed primed to take the lead in the top of the seventh before the Lobo defense came through again. A walk and wild pitch put a DSU baserunner on second. On the following at-bat, the DSU batter hit the ball through the left side, and while the baserunner was held up at third, Birkinshaw caught the throw in from Robinson in left, throwing to second to get the Trailblazer trying to take second for the second out. Guindon ended the inning with a three-pitch strikeout to set up the bottom of the seventh.
After the first two Lobo batters flied out, Birkinshaw started the rally with a single up the middle. Tuck followed that with a single to right on a 3-2 count with Birkinshaw moving all the way around to third on the play. Broderick fouled off the first pitch, took the second pitch for a ball and fouled off the third pitch before putting the ball in play, with the ball falling in right field and scoring Birkinshaw for the winning run.
Guindon threw 6.2 innings with four walks and four strikeouts, while Roberts accounted for the other out of the game. With the win, Guindon moved to 8-1.
UNM improved to 17-5 with the win and returns to the diamond for two more on Saturday, facing Wisconsin at 10 a.m. MT and Maine at 3 p.m. MT.