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Lobos Drop Round Two with Aggies on the Road

by Connor Gilbert

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – New Mexico Baseball couldn’t produce the runs to keep up with New Mexico State in the second meeting this season between the in-state rivals at Presley Askew Field on Tuesday night, falling 10-2 to tie up the season series at a game apiece.

Despite dropping their sixth straight, the Lobos (16-15, 7-5 MW) are still above .500 and in sole possession of second place in the Mountain West standings ahead of this weekend’s home series against first-place Fresno State (23-9, 12-3 MW) that kicks off Friday evening at Santa Ana Star Field.

The Aggies (13-18, 2-7 C-USA) stranded 10 Lobo runners on base and capitalized on two UNM errors while plating 10 runs on 10 hits to even up the season series after UNM’s 14-4 win in Albuquerque on March 19. The Lobos didn’t allow another extra base hit past the fifth and limited NMSU to just two hits over the final three frames but couldn’t get back on the board until the ninth.

The two teams will square off once more in Las Cruces on April 30 before closing out the four-game series at home on May 7.

The Lobos finished with seven hits in total, led by a 2-for-4 outing from Khalil Walker (1 RBI, HBP) in the leadoff spot. Five other Lobos – Jake Holland, Reed Spenrath, Ethan Ott, Josh McAlister and Konner Kinkade – finished with a hit each, with Spenrath driving in UNM’s first run with his 11th double of the season.

RHP Ryan Castillo kept things scoreless in the first frame but surrendered five earned runs on four hits in the second to get tagged with the loss – he struck out two and walked one in that span. LHP Jaren Jackson went the longest of five UNM arms that saw action with 2 2/3 frames of work, striking out two but walking three and allowing four more earned runs in the fifth to cue the entry of RHP Wil Bannister (1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R/0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) into the game. RHP Brian McBroom (0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K) and RHP Brett Russell (1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K) kept things scoreless the rest of the way, but the Lobos could only muster one run on a pair of hits in the final frame.

Walker got traffic on the basepaths at the first opportunity in the top of the first, getting aboard with a leadoff base knock before advancing to scoring position on a grounder from Asby in the next at-bat. But a flyout from Holland and a strikeout from Trujillo kept him there, and Castillo retired three of the first four he faced in the bottom of the inning with no hits for a scoreless first.

After the Lobos were retired in order in the top of the second to make it six in a row, Castillo got himself into a minor jam after allowing the first two aboard via a HBP and a walk. The freshman righty struck out the next two he faced, but three base knocks in succession – two singles and a three-run homer – plated five runs for the Aggies before he could close the frame with a grounder.

UNM got its first two runners aboard by walks in the top of the third, with Spenrath providing a response in the form of his 11th double of the season to bring Carris across and get the Lobos on the board.

Jackson took the mound in the next frame, with Spenrath ending a scoreless third with the putout and the assists on a double play to first. The lefty repeated the feat in the next frame, striking out two to keep the score unchanged through four.

But as the Aggies continued to keep the Lobos’ bats quiet, they plated four in the fifth and another in the sixth to extend the lead to 10-1 and threaten to end things early.

Taking over from Bannister after an unearned run got across to put the Aggies up nine, Russell worked a pair of precarious situations in the seventh and eighth to keep things scoreless, culminating in back-to-back strikeouts to strand a runner at third that could’ve ended the game via run rule. With three outs to work with, UNM got back on the board in the final frame thanks to an RBI base knock from Walker that brought in Wood from third, but the Lobos couldn’t get any closer after a strikeout ended the game.

Friday’s series opener against Fresno State is set for a 6 p.m. first pitch, with Saturday’s Game Two at 2 p.m. and Sunday’s finale at Noon (all times MT). All three games will be live streamed via the MW Network, with live stats available via Follow @UNMLoboBaseball for gameday updates and coverage, marketing and promotional news, behind-the-scenes content and more.