The 3,000th game in program history for the New Mexico baseball team decidedly went in the Lobos’ favor.
Game No. 3,001, however, will likely be forgotten.
Thanks to a complete game shutout by Preseason All American pitcher Josh Walker, UNM defeated Missouri State 7-0 in the first game of the double-header on Sunday at Lobo Field. Walker gave up just five hits and struck out three batters.
The next game versus Northern Illinois ended in a 3-3 tie after 10 innings because the Huskies had to catch their flight home. It was the first tie for UNM since Feb. 22, 2004 against Northwestern.
“Double-headers are hard to sweep, but we played poorly in the second game,” head coach Ray Birmingham said. “Not enough energy from some guys who are better baseball players. I can’t blame the freshmen for being freshmen but I can blame the letterman.”
Walker (1-1) rebounded after a brutal outing in the opening series of the season at San Diego, where he threw just four innings and gave up nine earned runs on 10 hits.
“Every day is a learning experience and you learn from the previous game,” Walker said. “The past doesn’t matter. I just really put my heart and soul into the team and tried to play hard.”
In the first game on Sunday, the contest was scoreless until the fifth inning when outfielder Chase Harris hit a three-run homer to give the Lobos a 3-0 lead.
UNM would strike again in the bottom of the seventh. First baseman Ryan Padilla hit a double to plate two runners then infielder Andre Vigil hit an RBI single to bring in Padilla for a 6-0 advantage.
The Lobos’ final run of the game came on a sacrifice fly by Harris in the eighth inning. Harris went 2-3 with two hits, two runs and four RBI.
Game No. 2 for UNM went very differently.
The Huskies (0-6-1) opened the scoring up with two runs in the first inning. UNM answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame.
In the second inning, NIU tied the game thanks to an RBI groundout by second basemen Justin Fletcher to tie the game at 3.
From there both teams had several opportunities to score the deciding run but neither did. The Lobos had the final chance in the 10th inning with outfielder Kirby McGuire up to bat and two men on. McGuire quietly grounded out to third for the 3-3 tie.
“It was a long day and I got the front of it. I was happy about that,” Walker said. “It was a good day overall. It was kind of weird how we ended that game right there.”
UNM (4-3-1) used six pitchers in the tie. Starter Mike Gould gave up three earned runs on four hits in just one inning of work.
Huskies pitcher Alex Klonowski went seven innings and allowed three earned runs on eight hits.
“The great thing is that we pitched well most of the time,” Birmingham said. “The whole tournament we pitched well, except for one inning.”