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First MW Series Win of Brown Era Comes on Extra-Inning, Walk-Off Thriller

by Alma Solis

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. –Chase Weissenborn, sophomore shortstop and Albuquerque native, played the hometown hero for UNM in the final game of the Fresno State series, driving home the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning to lead the Lobos to a 9-8 victory on Sunday afternoon at Santa Ana Star Field. The Lobos took two of three games in this series, marking the squad’s first Mountain West Conference series win under new head coach Tod Brown.

Four Lobos ended the game with two hits apiece – Lenny Junior Ashby, Jeffrey David, Kyle Landers and Cody Holtz. Coming in to close the game and pitching the final 2.2 innings, Brian McBroom successfully shut down the Bulldogs, holding them to one run on four hits and striking out four batters.

Junior starting pitcher Tristin Lively got two big strikeouts through the first two innings, including an impressive “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out” play by catcher Holtz to shortstop Weissenborn in the second inning.

With no score on the board, the Lobos took advantage of three hits and two hits by pitch to take an explosive 5-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. First, Landers hit a double to left center to bring Justin Olson across the plate. The next two Lobos up to the plate, Holtz and Weissenborn, were hit by pitch to load the bases. The next two batters after that, Lance Russell and Ashby both drew bases-loaded walks to drive in two more runs. David then capped off scoring in the second with a big two-run single up the middle to bring home Russell and Adam Schneider.

Though the next few innings went scoreless, there was still plenty of action to watch. Lively fanned two more batters in the third and fifth innings.

The Bulldogs plated two runs through the sixth and seventh frames to make the score 5-2, still in favor of UNM. A double play by shortstop Weissenborn to second baseman Russell to first baseman Olson, plus a big strikeout swinging by middle relief man Owen Loesch prevented further damage before the stretch.

Fresno State then put up three more runs to tie the game in the top of the eighth. The Lobos wasted no time responding as a two-run homerun by Ashby gave the Lobos the 7-5 lead in the bottom of the inning. This marks Ashby’s fifth homerun this season and his third in just this week.

The Bulldogs answered with a two-run homerun of their own in the top of the ninth to tie the game once again, this time at 7-7. The Lobos went three up-three down in the bottom of the inning, to send the game to extra innings.

McBroom dominated through the 10th and 11th innings, fanning three along the way.

Things started to heat up in the 11th as the Bulldogs’ pitcher-turned-designated hitter hit a solo homerun to right center to put Fresno State up, 8-7. New Mexico buckled down in the bottom of the inning. Ashby started off the inning with a double to center field, before he was replaced by pinch runner Sean Stephens. David then drove home Stephens with a double of his own, knotting the score at 8-8.

With no outs, Olson was intentionally walked, then later he moved up to second and David moved to third on a wild pitch to have both runners in scoring position. After Cano struck out, Landers was then intentionally walked to load the bases.

Holtz then struck out next, leaving the last opportunity to Weissenborn. The Albuquerque native stepped up to the plate and watched the first three pitches, the first for a ball, the second for a strike and the third for another ball. With the count at 2-1, Weissenborn swung on the next pitch but didn’t quite connect to make the count 2-2. Down to the last strike with bases loaded and two outs, he came in clutch as he laced a single through the left side, bringing home David for a walk-off win. The Lobos came out victorious over the Fresno State Bulldogs, 9-8, in their first extra-inning game of the season, also winning their first conference series of the season in the process.

New Mexico improves to a 6-9 record (3-2 in MW play), while Fresno State falls to a 7-9 record (1-2 in MW).

The squad hits the road for a two-game midweek series at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, on March 15-16. The Lobos then head to Wichita State for a three-game set from March 18-20 in Wichita, Kan.

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