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Lobos Edge Spartans in Extra Innings in MW Opener

SAN JOSE, Calif.— The first Mountain West game of the season needed extra innings to decide, and the New Mexico Lobos once again found a way, edging out the San José State Spartans 2-1 in eight innings.

The first seven innings were a defensive battle with neither team able to bring runners across in the innings that baserunners were able to reach. Both teams had plenty of opportunities with the Spartans leaving seven runners on base with UNM leaving six on base and running into an out at the plate on a fielder’s choice in the third that the first baseman threw home to get the Lobo.

UNM had runners in scoring position in the second and third innings without any success in getting on the board, and in the bottom of the third, starting pitcher Amber Linton worked around a bunt, sacrifice bunt and walk to get out of the inning with two strikeouts.

In the bottom of the fourth, SJSU has its first two hitters reach base on singles, but again the Lobo defense came through with a Linton strikeout, a liner to Briana Martinez at shortstop and a grounder to Reyan Tuck at first to keep the game scoreless. The fifth inning started the same way, but Linton got out of it with a strikeout, a grounder back to her in the circle, with the sophomore throwing to third for the force out, and another strikeout to close the inning.

Neither team was able to get anything going in the sixth and seventh, forcing extra innings. At the top of the eighth, the Lobos found their rhythm, with Martinez reaching base on an infield single to turn over the lineup and Peyton Robinson laying down a bunt and beating out the throw to first. Ashley Archuleta followed that up with a single to center to load the bases and Andrea Howard broke the tie with a single to right center that scored Martinez and Robinson.

The Spartans pushed back in their half of the inning, getting their leadoff batter on with a walk. A grounder to Archuleta at second provided the first out, but a throwing error on the next at-bat scored the runner from second.  Emma Guindon entered in place of Linton and walked the Spartan batter, causing Linton to come back in. A fielder’s choice to second was the second out of the inning, but the tying run moved to third. With two outs and a 2-2 count, the Spartan batter popped it up in foul territory towards the third base line. Emma Bramson attempted to chase down the ball to make the play but was interfered with by the runner on third, with the umpire calling the interference for the final out.

UNM ultimately outhit the Spartans 7-6, with Robinson, Archuleta and Howard accounting for two hits each. Robinson hit her first triple as a Lobo for the only extra-base hit by either team in the game.

Linton pitched a career-high 8.0 innings, striking out seven while walking two, with the only run scoring an unearned run.

With the win, Linton improved to 8-3 on the season and the Lobos improve to 19-7 (1-0 MW). The series resumes on Saturday at 4 p.m. MT.