The Mountain West regular season title seems to be slipping through the grasp of the University of New Mexico baseball team, as they lost the first of a three game home series to Nevada at Santa Ana Star Field, 5-2 Thursday evening.
The Lobos (28-24-1, 18-8-1 MW) were fortunate enough to hold onto first place in the conference standings for the moment, after San Diego State was shut out 4-0 in its opening game against Fresno State on Thursday.
New Mexico tallied just five hits as a team, with the bulk of those coming from Carl Stajduhar and Danny Collier, each of whom banged out two hits. Stajduhar also added an RBI and run score to his stat line, while Collier was responsible for bringing home the other run.
The other other Lobo player to register a hit was Hayden Schilling, who went 1-for-4 at the plate.
UNM was on the scoreboard first, scoring both of its runs in the bottom of the first inning. After starting pitcher Tyler Stevens struck out two in the top of the frame to hold Nevada scoreless in the top half, the Lobos went on the offensive early.
Luis Gonzalez drew a lead-off walk, and Schilling singled to put runners on first and second. Stajduhar also knocked home a run with a one-out RBI single, and Collier added a two-out single to put the Lobos up 2-0.
After both teams were held scoreless in the second inning, Nevada (18-33, 12-15 MW) broke through with a three-run third inning aided by a balk. The Wolfpack used that free pass and two RBI singles to move out in front 3-2 on the scoreboard.
Neither team mounted a threat in the fourth inning, but Nevada added to its lead again in the top half of the fifth inning, singling home another run to increase its lead to 4-2 over the home team.
Stevens kept the Lobos in the game, finishing the sixth inning without surrendering a run, but the Wolfpack picked up another insurance run off reliever Justin Slaten in the seventh inning. Slaten gave up an RBI double in the frame, which left UNM trailing 5-2 at the seventh-inning stretch.
Although Slaten finished the game strong, New Mexico was unable to generate the offense needed to mount a comeback. UNM fell by a 5-2 final score and missed out on an opportunity at home to inch closer to a regular season Mountain West title.
The loss found its way on Stevens’ ledger, dropping him to a 6-6 record on the season. He was responsible for four of the runs scored in the game which game on 13 hits — though he managed to strikeout eight Nevada batters.
Game two will be played on Friday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m, broadcast on ESPN Radio 101.7, The TEAM. Johnathon Tripp (5-2, 5.45 ERA) will get the start on the mound for UNM, while Nevada will counter with Mark Nowaczewski (5-5, 3.61 ERA).
Matthew Narvaiz is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers baseball and women's basketball. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.