The University of New Mexico baseball team fell victim in its second straight Mountain West series of the year, losing two of three on the road to the Fresno State Bulldogs at Pete Beiden Field.
New Mexico (6-8-1, 2-4 MW) narrowly escaped with a win in game one, clipping the Bulldogs in improbable fashion.
In that first game, Fresno State (11-6, 2-4 MW) seemed to be well on its way to picking up a victory. The Bulldogs began Friday's scoring by going yard in the second inning to take a one-run lead and picked up another run via the long ball in the bottom of the fifth.
Fresno State even added a couple of insurance runs in the bottom half of the seventh, extending its lead to 4-0 to make things even easier on the bullpen. But the Lobos had other ideas.
In the top of the eighth, UNM sophomore Robby Campillo hit an infield single, and sophomore Justin Watari walked to get a couple of base runners on for the Lobos. The pressure seemed to get to freshman reliever Jamison Hill, as he walked Dan Herrera on four pitches to load the bases — then walked in a run when he issued a base on balls to UNM freshman Richard Ware.
Senior left fielder Danny Collier hit a sacrifice-fly to plate a second run — and although they couldn't get anymore runs in that inning — the Lobo comeback was on.
New Mexico had to wait until the top of the ninth, but returned to inflict further damage. Junior reliever Malachi Emond pitched a perfect eighth, giving the Lobos a final opportunity to make something happen in the final inning.
A pair of UNM freshman, Chris Dunn and Derek Marshall, launched back-to-back home runs over the wall to pull the Lobos even with the Bulldogs. Later in the inning scored the go-ahead run when Collier singled home Campillo, who had reached base on an error.
Campillo's unearned run scored wound up being the game-winner as junior right-hander Christian Tripp closed the game for the Lobos at the mound, mowing down the Fresno State batters in the bottom of the ninth.
He struck out freshman Miles Tomczak and senior Korby Bateslole, before inducing Zach Ashford into a roundball for the final out.
"It really was a total team effort by a young team," UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said in a release. "The homers by the freshmen were incredible.”
Less incredible though were the results in the two games that followed. In the bottom of the second inning of Saturday's game, the Lobos committed a two-out error to extend the inning — allowing Fresno State sophomore Robert Jensen to hit a homer over the fence in left field to give the ‘Dogs a 2-0 lead.
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The Bulldogs added another pair of runs in the third to move out in front 4-0 for second time in as many days. Nathaniel Garley came into the fray in the fourth inning any kept the ‘Dogs at bay for several innings as the Lobos tried to mount a comeback again.
But New Mexico could not repeat the feat — though it got a run across home plate in the top of the seventh, Fresno State was able to answer with a score in the bottom of the frame.
And the score held as Saturday's contest ended in a 5-1 Bulldog victory, giving Fresno State the momentum heading into the rubber match of the three-game series.
In that third and decisive game, the Lobos had a dream start — scoring three runs in the opening inning and getting off to a strong start from the mound as well.
But the Lobo offense failed to execute after it had performed so well in the first inning, stranding seven baserunners over the next seven innings until they finally broke through in the ninth.
But by then, the Bulldogs had already made up the deficit and then some. Fresno State scored an unearned run in the bottom of the third after its leadoff man reached base on an error. And drew even in the fourth when Fresno State junior Jeremiah Burks singled J.T Arruda home and later crossed home plate himself, scoring on a two-out single from Tomczak to make the score 3-3.
UNM sophomore pitcher Cody Dye, allowed a two-out home run in the bottom of the sixth to Fresno State's Zach Presno, which gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 4-3.
Presno struck again in the eighth inning, batting in a run with a single to score teammate McCarthy Tatum from second base. The Bulldogs tried to get aggressive and advance into scoring position again, but were caught stealing to end the inning.
The 5-3 advantage proved to be enough though, despite the Lobos presenting a serious threat in the top half of the ninth.
The Lobos drew a leadoff walk and Collier sent a double down the right field line to put runners on the corner. UNM scored one run on a groundout to cut the deficit to 5-4 and put Fresno State's closer, Hill, in another pressure situation.
But Hill rose to the occasion to finish Sunday what he was unable to do just a couple of days prior. He dug deep and struck out a pair of Lobos to end the threat and record the save — preserving a 5-4 win to cap the three-game series.
New Mexico will look to rebound on Monday, March 12 at 4:30 p.m. against Cal Poly when the teams face off for the second time this season. The Lobos won the first meeting, a 3-1 victory at the Suprise Tournament in Arizona back on Feb. 17.
Matthieu Cartron is a senior writer and sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers women’s soccer and men’s tennis. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cartron_matt.