A strong fourth inning propelled No. 2 Oregon State to a 5-2 win over the University of New Mexico baseball team on Friday afternoon in Surprise, Arizona. The game was the Lobos’ season opener.
But a combination of strong pitching and the Beavers’ high octane proved too much for the Lobos (0-1), as they were held to just four hits and were struck out seven times.
The Beavers (1-0), on the other hand, recorded 10 hits, including two home runs and three doubles.
Senior outfielder Danny Collier led off for the Lobos at the top of the first inning, though he swung at the first pitch and hit a flyout. Shortly after, junior shortstop Hayden Schilling was hit on the shoulder by a slider. But Oregon State senior pitcher Luke Heimlich found his groove after that mishap, and struck out junior outfielder Jared Mang while the catcher threw out Schilling trying to steal second.
In the bottom of the frame, sophomore pitcher Justin Slaten allowed a double after two straight Oregon State flyouts, though he finished the frame with a strikeout.
After the Lobos fell in order in the top of the second inning, Slaten made quick work in the bottom of the frame with a 1-2-3 inning of his own. He did the same, too, in the bottom of the third—where he retired seven straight going back to to the last out in the bottom of the first.
Things started to look good for the Lobos offensively in the fourth inning, as Schilling led off the frame with a bunt. But Mang, on the ensuing at-bat, reached first base on a fielder’s choice ultimately forcing Schilling out at second. From there, junior first baseman Jeff Deimling hit into a double play.
Slaten fell apart in the bottom of the fourth, when he walked the Beavers’ lead off hitter. He then allowed two straight home runs to make it 3-0 in favor of the no. 2 team in the nation. He did, however, record his third strikeout right after that, and finished the inning not allowing Oregon State to capitalize on its already multiple run lead.
Again, the Beavers scored—this time in the bottom of the fifth. Oregon State junior shortstop Cadyn Grenier hit a two-out double to left center, and was brought home on a single to left field from junior second baseman Nick Madrigal, to make it 4-0. Slaten, after Oregon State’s fourth run, walked a batter—and that was it for him. Junior pitcher Chad Smith replaced him, though he allowed an RBI single in his first appearance for the Lobos, putting the Beavers up 5-0. Smith, on the ensuing batter, managed to end the inning on a groundout.
But the Lobos picked up their offense in the top of the sixth inning. Freshman third baseman Connor Mang led off the frame with a single and freshman second baseman Garrett Gouldsmith was walked right after to put two players on base. From there, Collier reasoned first base on a fielder’s choice, while Mang advanced to third base. Again, Schilling reached base on a fielder’s choice, which drove in UNM’s first run, and Jared Mang followed up with an RBI single to bring the game within three runs, 5-2, in favor of Oregon State.
In the bottom of the seventh, Oregon State reached base on a one-out double. However, Smith came in clutch. He struck out the next two batters.
After the Lobos went down in order in the top of the eighth, Smith again struckout another batter, making it three in a row and four of his last six, over two and two-thirds inning on the mound. He was then replaced by sophomore pitcher Brian Coffey, who allowed just a single and no runs in the frame.
But the Lobos fell in order at the top of the ninth, losing their season opener 5-2 against the Beavers.
Slaten picked up the loss, as he allowed five runs and six hits in the game. Heimlich picked up the win, allowing just four hits and two runs in six innings.
Up next for UNM is its second game in its four game series in Surprise, Arizona. They’ll take on Cal Poly at 5 p.m., and will follow up with a match on Sunday against Gonzaga, and will close against Oregon State on Monday.
Matthew Narvaiz is a senior sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s and women’s basketball, and baseball. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.