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Lobos Fall to Fresno State in Series Opener

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico Baseball took a 4-3 lead in the third inning of its series opener against MW-leading Fresno State on Friday night at Santa Ana Star Field but was outscored 7-1 the rest of the way, falling 10-5 for the Lobos’ seventh straight loss and the Bulldogs’ ninth straight conference win.

UNM drops to 16-16 on the season and 7-6 in MW play, at risk of falling below .500 for the first time since February with another loss.

The Lobos cracked double-digit hits and surged ahead with a four-run fourth that included two doubles and a triple but were kept off the board for five consecutive innings until Khalil Walker’s RBI single in a pinch-hit AB broke up the dry spell. Konner Kinkade led the way with a 3-for-5 night in the leadoff spot to extend his hit streak to four games with seven hits in that span, with Devon Dixon breaking out of a six-game hitless streak with two knocks and a run and five other Lobos finishing with a hit each.

RHP Dayne Pengelly opened with a 1-2-3 inning but exited in the fourth after being tagged for six earned runs on eight hits in the next three innings, striking out one and walking one to get tagged with a loss for his second outing in a row. LHP Arthur Steinkamp (2.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K), RHP Wil Bannister (3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K) and RHP Brian McBroom (0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K) pitched the rest of the way, with Bannister retiring 10 of 12 batters faced to keep the Bulldogs off the board in the seventh and eighth before McBroom recorded the third out in the ninth via strikeout to make it three straight scoreless innings after Fresno plated runs in five in a row.

The Lobos have a chance to snap their seven-game skid and tie up a crucial MW series in tomorrow’s Round Two, set for a 2 p.m. MT first pitch. RHP Brett Russell (2-0, 8.55 ERA, 20 IP, 20 K, 7 BB) will get the start on the mound for the Lobos against Fresno RHP Noah Beal (3-3, 3.48 ERA, 44.0 IP, 53 K 9 BB). 

Pengelly kept things difficult early, reaching 97 mph on his fastball while striking out one and inducing a pair of groundouts for a 1-2-3 inning. Kinkade picked up a hit in the leadoff position in the bottom of the frame, but a fielder’s choice knock and a pair of strikeouts kept UNM from capitalizing.

Dixon corralled two more groundouts for the first two outs in the second – the second being a do-or-die play on a ball up the middle – but a double and triple in succession from the ‘Dogs opened the scoring before Dixon ended the inning with his fourth assist of the day.

Back-to-back homers from Fresno’s Saldivar and Peppi extended the lead to 3-0, but UNM responded with four runs in the bottom of the frame with three extra base hits. Dixon snapped a six-game hitless streak with a leadoff double that traveled 411 feet to the wall after battling through an eight-pitch at-bat to get things going, with Kinkade bringing him in with another two-bagger to get UNM on the board. After Asby drew a walk to get another runner on the basepaths, Holland followed with a 421-foot triple that tied things up at 3-all, and Ott made it five consecutive UNM runners getting aboard safely with a base knock that gave UNM its first lead of the game at 4-3.

But the Bulldogs knocked Pengelly out of the game with an RBI double that tied things up in the top of the fourth and plated two more off Steinkamp before he could halt the advance with a double play and a grounder. With UNM looking for a response, back-to-back two-out base hits from Kinkade and Asby got runners at the corners with Holland at the plate in the bottom of the inning, but the senior catcher grounded out to third to keep the Lobos off the board, trailing 6-4. 

As the Lobos’ bats stagnated, Bannister retired eight of his first nine faced to keep the Bulldogs scoreless for the seventh and eighth, producing the first two outs in the ninth before McBroom entered the game and threw three consecutive strikes to make it three consecutive scoreless frames.

Spenrath drew a one-out walk and reached scoring position on fielder’s indifference, with Walker providing an RBI single with two outs on the board to bring in a UNM run for the first time since the third and trim the deficit back to five. But McAlister struck out swinging to strand the Lobos’ 11th runner on base and end the game.

The Lobos have a chance to snap their seven-game skid and tie up a crucial MW series in tomorrow’s Round Two, set for a 2 p.m. MT first pitch. All of this weekend’s action will be streamed via the MW Network, with live stats available via Follow @UNMLoboBaseball on socials for promotional/marketing and gameday updates, behind-the-scenes content and more.