Playing Fresno State in a three-game series this weekend didn’t bring the best of luck for the University of New Mexico baseball team.
After losing both game one on Friday and game two on Saturday, the Lobos (28-23-1, 18-7-1 MW) were swept by the Fresno State Bulldogs — UNM lost game three on Sunday, 15-9, at Bob Bennett Stadium in Fresno, California.
The loss puts the Lobos in an odd position, meaning that they will have to win each of their last three games of the season to clinch the Mountain West regular season title, as they now only lead second-place San Diego State by one game.
For Fresno State, they clinched a spot in the Mountain West tournament after sweeping UNM, while also maintaining a third place standing in the conference.
However, game three between UNM and Fresno State played out similarly to the two games prior, with the Bulldogs scoring multiple runs in single innings, while holding off the Lobos' bats.
Fresno State — as they did in games one and two — got out on top first, scoring four runs in the first inning, while holding UNM scoreless.
But UNM answered to lead off the second inning, putting up a run of their own. The scoring drive started off with a Beau Capanna single, an Andre Vigil single, and eventually a Robby Campillo RBI single to shorten Fresno State’s lead to 4-1.
In the bottom of the frame, Luis Gonzalez — who got the start on the mound for UNM — pitched a 1-2-3 inning, and things were looking positive for the away team.
UNM grabbed two hits in the top of the third inning on singles from Carl Stajduhar and Jared Mang, but the Lobos left two runners stranded and failed to capitalize, while Fresno State tallied another run in the frame to go up 5-1.
The Lobos got their second run in the fourth inning on a Vigil home run to shorten the Bulldogs’ lead to three runs, though that only lasted momentarily. Fresno State added six runs in the bottom of the frame, putting them up 11-2.
UNM managed to outscore the Bulldogs from the fifth inning onwards with three runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and two in the eighth, but it wasn't enough to close the gap, as Fresno State added on another four runs after the initial six run inning, giving them the 15-9 win and a series sweep over the No. 1 team in Mountain West.
The Lobos’ bats were active in the game, tallying 17 runs as a team. They were led by Andre Gregory who went 2-for-5 with a home run, a run and five RBIs. Stajduhar had the most hits out of any Lobo, going 3-for-5, though he only added one run. Gonzalez, Hayden Schilling, Mang, Capanna and Vigil all had two hits apiece in the game, and every Lobo that got an at-bat had a hit or more, besides Austin Bell and Daniel Herrera.
The loss was tacked onto Gonzalez’s record, putting him at 4-3 on the season. He went 3.2 innings on the mound and gave up nine runs on seven hits in the game.
In total, though, UNM rotated six different pitchers in the game. As for why the Lobos lost this game and the series as a whole, head coach Ray Birmingham said it was a combination of bad pitching and the Jack Zoellner being unable to play — he was hit by a pitch on his hand in game one, putting him out for the remainder of the series.
“The thing I thought would get us down the road this year was our pitching,” Birmingham said in a press release. “This weekend wasn't what I expected this time of year. Fresno State is white-hot right now and I think losing Jack (Zoellner) really had an effect.”
The Lobos will conclude their regular season in a three-game series at home against the Nevada Wolfpack. The series starts on Thursday, May 18 and will conclude the following Saturday. All three games will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 101.7, The TEAM.
Matthew Narvaiz is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers baseball and women's basketball. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.