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Monday, December 22, 2014

Baseball: Momentum lost on third Jacksonville game

040714_baseballunmvsjacksonvilleweb_wa
By William Aranda / New Mexico Daily Lobo

UNM pitcher Jake Cole pitches against Jacksonville State University during Friday night’s game. The Lobos won two games against Jacksonville on Friday and Saturday, 5-3 and 8-2 respectively, but lost 2-9 on Sunday.

sports@dailylobo.com
@ThomasRomeroS

One of Ray Birmingham’s major concerns over the course of a long baseball season is fatigue.

New Mexico’s head coach knows there are games in which the team does not have the requisite energy to win. Sunday’s was one of those games.

Jacksonville State’s ace Adam Polk threw 6 2/3 innings, giving up just two hits and walking two batters, leading the Gamecocks to a 9-2 victory over the Lobos at Lobo Field.

Sunday’s game was the fifth in six days for UNM (22-11-1)

“Today we were slumping. I felt like the energy wasn’t really there,” UNM catcher Alex Real said. “We’ve been playing a lot of games, but that’s not a good excuse — it’s something we have to battle through. Guys need to keep the energy up when things aren’t going our way.”

UNM didn’t record a hit until the bottom of the sixth, when, with two outs, designated hitter Danny Collier hit a single to breakup Polk’s no-hit bid.

The Lobos, with only two runs, fought back in the bottom of the ninth inning thanks to an RBI double from pinch hitter Chris Devito and an RBI groundout from Lane Milligan.

“The guy (Polk) pitched his ass off. He was crafty, a crafty lefty. The ball was going his way,” Birmingham said. “The one thing that I worry about is fatigue with so many games … because so many people haven’t played like that. That’s the thing I worry about the most. If you’re tired you don’t perform like you usually do.”

The Gamecocks struck first with four runs in the top of the third inning. Catcher Stephen Barlett brought home two runs with an RBI double down the left field line.

In the fifth inning, Jacksonville State added another run thanks to an RBI single by designated hitter Pashal Petrongolo, who went 5-5 on the day.

Jacksonville State put the game out of reach in the eighth inning with three more runs. Second baseman Eddie Mora-Loera hit a two RBI single and right fielder Griff Gordon hit a sacrifice fly.

Center fielder Michael Bishop added the final run for the Gamecocks (19-12) with an RBI single for a 9-0 lead in the ninth inning.

“I thought they did a good job. They let the ball travel,” Birmingham said. “When it was 5-0 I thought we might have a chance, but when it was 9-0 it was going to be hard.”

Starting pitcher Josh Walker, the ace of the Lobos’ staff, had an off game, allowing five runs on ten hits in six innings of work.

Four relief pitchers were used for the Lobos. Pitchers Carson Schneider and Tyler Gibson each tossed one inning of relief and combined to give up three earned runs on six hits.

Pitchers Michael Mason and Travis Stout were the only relief pitchers for Jacksonville State. Stout gave up both of UNM’s runs on two hits in one inning.

Birmingham said some of his upperclassmen just don’t have it together right now.

“The thing that I’m most concerned about is the upperclassmen, the inconsistencies of the upperclassmen,” he said. “That’s the thing they have to do to carry this ball club is at least squaring it up.”