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Lobo Baseball Humbles No. 11 Arizona, Takes First Win Over a Ranked Opponent Since 2019

by Alma Solis

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico baseball team took down the No. 11 nationally-ranked Arizona Wildcats by a final score of 12-7 on Wednesday night at Santa Ana Star Field. This is the Lobos’ first win over ranked opponent since a 12-9 victory over then-No.11 Texas Tech on April 3, 2019.

This win was extra special as skipper Tod Brown defeated his alma mater, Arizona. Brown pitched his collegiate years at Arizona and was an volunteer assistant coach there for a year to start his collegiate coaching career.

Lenny Junior Ashby extended his reached-base streak to a team-leading 16 straight games and his hitting streak to 10 games. Every single Lobo that had a plate appearance reached base at least once. The top four in the batting order had multi-hit games as Lance Russell went 4-for-6, Jeffrey David had a 3-for-5 outing, Ashby went 2-for-5 and Braydon Runion had a 2-for-3 outing.

Starting pitcher Matt Haley went 3.0 innings, fanning three and allowing five unearned runs on five hits to the Wildcats. Jacob Strmiska picked up his first win of the season as he pitched 1.1 innings in relief. Will Armbruester picked up his first save as he pitched the final three innings and allowed no runs on three hits while striking out two Arizona batters.

Starter Haley sat the Wildcats down in the first frame as he forced a line out, groundout and swinging strikeout, only allowing one hit to the heavy-hitting Arizona squad. The Lobos then got to work in the bottom of the inning. David got on base as he singled to the shortstop then advanced all the way to third base thanks to a passed ball and a wild pitch. Then, Ashby drove him home to give the Lobos the first run of the game.

In the second inning, the Wildcats plated three runs to take a 3-1 lead. Haley got his second batter swinging on the night during the inning.

New Mexico jumped on the ball in the bottom of the frame, notching three hits for one run. L. Russell found his first hit of the night as he singled through the right side to bring in Chase Weissenborn, cutting the Lobos deficit to 3-2.

Arizona plated a couple more runs in the third to extend their lead to 5-2, but the Lobos’ nation-leading infield turned a double play from the third baseman Willie Cano to L. Russell at second to first baseman Justin Olson, and Haley notched his third strikeout of the night.

Cano highlighted the bottom of the inning as well as a sacrifice fly by him brought home Braydon Runion to cut Arizona’s lead to 5-3.

Strmiska came in to relieve Haley in the fourth, allowing two singles to start the frame but then forcing a foul out and two flyouts to end the inning unscathed.

The Lobos used seven hits to explode for six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Starting off with three singles by L. Russell, David and Ashby, the bases were loaded with no outs. Runion stepped up to the plate and hit a sac fly to knock in L. Russell. Kyle Landers then followed that with a single to right center, driving in David to knot the game at 5-5.

Cano was walked on four pitches to reload the bases for Olson. With a 3-1 count and one out, Olson connected perfectly with the ball to launch it out of the park. His first home run in a Lobo uniform can go down as a grand slam to give the Lobos a 9-4 lead over No. 11 Arizona in the bottom of the fourth. The last time a Lobo hit a grand slam was Carl Stajduhar vs. San Diego State on May 26, 2017.

Arizona tacked on another run in the top of the fifth, but the Lobos answered with double that in the bottom of the frame. David walked to start the inning, then moved to third on a double by Ashby. Runion launched a single to left field to bring David around to score. Pinch-hitting for Landers, Kyle Smith jumped on the first pitch he saw to single to third base and drive home Ashby, giving the Lobos a 11-6 lead by the end of the inning.

The Wildcats scored a run in the sixth and found a little more success at the plate, but Justin Still came in to relieve Miguel Reyes Jr with bases loaded and no outs. Still dominated the next three batters, striking out all three in order (two swinging and one looking) to prevent further damage.

In the bottom of the sixth, L. Russell worked a full count to launch a buckshot past the left field wall for his first home run of the season, a solo shot to give the Lobos a 12-7 lead.

The last three innings went quickly as neither team scored. Armbruester came in to close out the game and successfully kept Arizona from scoring, only allowing four hits and striking out two. The Lobos came out victorious in one of their toughest challenges this season, taking down No. 11 Arizona in a 12-7 final.

New Mexico’s record improves to 9-12 (3-3 MW) on the season, while No. 11 Arizona fall to 16-5 overall.

The Lobos head to Colorado Springs, Colo., for a three-game set against Air Force on Friday-Sunday.

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