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New Mexico Takes 7-4 Game Two Win over MW Leader UNLV

by Alma Solis

LAS VEGAS — The University of New Mexico baseball team defeated the MW-leading UNLV Rebels, 7-4, in game two of a three-game series on Saturday afternoon at Earl E. Wilson Stadium.

The Lobos last defeated the Rebels on May 12, 2019, when the Lobos took a 3-2 win on their home field at Santa Ana Star Field. New Mexico last defeated UNLV in Vegas earlier that season, as the Lobos took two out of a three-game series at Earl E. Wilson Stadium.

Three Lobos had multi-hit games as Sean Stephens went 2-for-5 with two runs, Lenny Junior Ashby had a 2-for-4 outing with a run and a RBI, and Kyle Smith went 2-for-4 with a run and a RBI. On the mound, the Lobo pitching staff on starting southpaw Matt Haley, middle relief man Brian McBroom and Friday starter-converted-closer Riley Egloff kept the hot hitting UNLV team to four runs, while striking out six batters. Haley notched his second win of the season to improve to an even 2-2 record.

The Rebels jumped out to an early 2-0 lead as they scored two runs in the bottom of the first. The Lobos then got on the board in the top of the second frame. K. Smith started off the inning with a single to left center, then advanced to second on a groundout by Cody Holtz a couple batters later. Cole Posey then stepped up to the plate and worked a full count to single to right center, bringing in K. Smith to make the score 2-1, still in favor of the Rebels.

After Haley forced a three up-three down bottom of the second on a fly out and double play, the Lobos went to the work on the other side of the plate in the top of the third. Two groundouts put two outs to start the inning, but New Mexico didn’t let that halt them. Ashby connected for a solo home run, his 10th jack of the season, to knot the game up at 2-2.

This home run sparked a two-out rally for the Lobos. Kamron Willman followed with a single to center field, before K. Smith doubled to bring home Willman and give New Mexico a 3-2 lead.

Starter Haley continued to deal through the bottom of the frame as he sat down the Rebels in order with a fly out and two strikeouts.

From this point commenced three scoreless innings through the fourth to sixth innings, in which Haley and McBroom combined to keep the Rebels off the board with five flyouts, two strikeout, a groundout and a fielder’s choice putout.

New Mexico then tacked on a couple more runs for a 5-2 lead in the seventh inning. To start the frame, Holtz jumped on the first pitch he saw, launching it for his third home run of the season.

A couple batters and outs later, Stephens got a good look on the first pitch he saw to single, before stealing second base shortly after. Jeffrey David then connected on a 3-1 count to loop a single to left center and bring around Stephens.

The Rebels plated a couple runs to make it a one-run game in the bottom of the eighth, but that didn’t last long as the Lobos added another pair of runs of their own in the top of the ninth. After Posey walked to start the inning, he advanced to second on a putout the next batter up. Then, Stephens reached first and advanced to second on an error by UNLV’s first baseman, allowing Posey to advance to third and also score on that play.

The Rebels decided to intentionally walk Ashby to get to Willman, but Willman stayed patient at the plate and it paid off as a 3-2 count turned into a walk to load the bases. Next up, Justin Olson came in to pinch hit and also proceeded to work a walk from a 3-2 pitch count, walking in the Lobos seventh run of the game.

Egloff continued to show his value as a starter and closer alike as he shut down the Rebels in the final frame on a groundout, flyout and pop out, leading the Lobos to a big 7-4 win over the Mountain West-leading UNLV Rebels.

New Mexico’s record improves to 16-22 overall (7-13 in MW play), while UNLV sits at 27-13 overall and 16-4 in MW action.

The Lobos and Rebels will go head-to-head for the rubber match and series finale on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. (MT) at Earl E. Wilson Stadium in Las Vegas.

To keep up with Lobo baseball, follow @UNMLoboBaseball on Twitter and Instagram.