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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bears bite back in doubleheader

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By Rachel Toraño-Mark / New Mexico Daily Lobo

UNM pitcher Jonathan Cuellar throws a pitch during the Lobos’ win over La Salle March 6. UNM starts a three-game home stand against Nevada today at 6 p.m. at Isotopes park.

sports@dailylobo.com
@MSolDub

The UNM baseball team played two very different games on Tuesday as it split a doubleheader with Missouri State. The Lobos came away with an extra-innings win in the first game, but dropped the second in a blowout loss.

The first game opened heavily in the Bears’ favor. Missouri State’s freshman starting pitcher, left-hander Andy Cheray, kept the Lobos hitless through the first three innings while the Bears’ batters took a 3-0 lead through the third.

The Lobos’ luck began to change in the fourth when UNM senior catcher Mitch Garver extended his hitting streak to 18 games on a single up the middle. Soon after, Cheray began to lose composure, allowing two hits in the fifth inning to tie the score at 3-3.

Through the seventh inning the score had become 5-5 and remained so until the bottom of the 11th. That was when Lobo senior outfielder Luke Campbell singled for a base. Campbell then stole second, before advancing to third on a wild pitch. Garver stepped up to the plate and hit a walk-off single down the left field line to bring Campbell home, giving the Lobos a 6-5 win.

“I was happy with the first game,” UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. “We closed out an extra-inning game against a good ball club.”

After a 30-minute break, the grounds crew at Isotopes Park turned on the lights and the second game began.

The starting pitchers for both teams, freshman Drew Bridges for the Lobos and freshman Matt Hall for the Bears, each allowed an early run before settling in for the first three innings.

The fourth and fifth innings saw Missouri State turn the game into a blowout. Hall allowed only two hits while the Bears began to heat up at the plate, scoring seven runs on eight hits in the two innings.

“Missouri State is a great baseball program, and their M.O. is that they can really pitch,” Birmingham said. “Their pitching staff as a whole, I’d have to say, is second to none.”

Just as the Bears stepped their game up, the Lobos fell apart. UNM used three pitchers between the two innings, with Bridges being replaced by senior Will Mathis midway through the fourth and Mathis in turn being replaced by freshman Taylor Duree midway through the fifth. During the two-inning span, the Lobo pitchers walked three Bears and threw five wild pitches. When the fourth and fifth innings were over, the Lobos were down 8-1.

“Things just added up,” Garver said. “Before you knew it, they had three or four more runs on the board.”

There was one bright spot for the Lobos in the devastating two innings: Garver singled in the fourth to extend his career-best hitting streak to 19 games.

The Bears cooled off, the Lobo pitching settled in for the rest of the game and both teams put in sparsely used players in the eighth and ninth innings. UNM scored once more in the eighth when senior catcher Erik Suarez hit his first career triple to bring Campbell home. The Lobos went on to lose the game 8-2.

“We knew the second game was going to be a little bit dicey,” Birmingham said, “and we were hoping that they would be in the same situation we were. They weren’t.”

The Lobos, now with a record of 9-11 overall, will see action again today as they start a three-game home series against 13-8 Nevada.