This week, the University of New Mexico’s baseball team continued their home slate with a 3-1 series victory against the BYU Cougars. With the triumph, UNM improved to 8-3 this season.
The series began with an 8-7 victory on Thursday, Feb. 27, at Santa Ana Star Field.
The Lobos broke a scoreless tie with a six-hit, four-run fourth inning thanks to RBI singles from Ediberto Reyes, Kemuel Thomas-Rivera, Justin Watari and Kyle Landers in rapid succession. The Lobos carried this momentum into the fifth and the six innings, extending their lead to 6-0.
Starter Aaron Makil continued an impressive start to the season by retiring the first 10 cougars that he faced, not allowing a run through six innings. A series of defensive errors in the seventh, however, brought in four unearned runs and led to BYU tying the game at 6-6.
UNM regained the lead in the bottom half of the same inning with a Thomas-Rivera single gave the Lobos a 7-6 lead, but the Cougars bounced back in the top of the ninth inning to settle the score at seven apiece, setting up an opportunity for the Lobos to win the game in the bottom of the ninth. A pinch-hit single by Lance Russell drove in the winning run, as UNM prevailed in the series opener by an 8-7 margin.
All told, the Lobos ended up with 15 hits, all of which were singles. While Makil went a strong 6.1 innings with only two earned runs allowed, he ended up getting a no decision.
Games two and three saw the Lobos split the Friday afternoon double-header, with UNM taking game the first and BYU claiming the latter.
Lobo pitchers dominated in a shutout in the first game on Friday, highlighted by Justin Armbruester’s six inning, two hit outing, aided by three scoreless frames from the Lobo bullpen. Lobo hitters put forth a solid outing, as UNM opened with two quick runs in the first inning en route to a nine-hit, four-run performance capped by a Kyle Landers solo homer in the bottom of the eighth.
UNM’s momentum off the mound wouldn’t carry into the nightcap, however, as the second game saw the Lobos in an early hole after BYU plated three runs off of starter Tristin Lively and chased him out of the game before the end of the first inning. While the Lobos were able to score three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, BYU put up two more runs in the top of the second which ultimately put them up for good.
BYU tacked on six runs over the next two innings, with five more crossing the plate in the top of the sixth, handing the Lobos an 18-9 loss. The Cougars’ 18 runs came off by way of a 17-hit onslaught which proved too much for an overwhelmed Lobo bullpen.
The final game of the set saw the Lobos bounce back with a convincing 12-1 victory, clinching the series for the cherry and silver.
UNM got a strong outing from senior Nathaniel Garley in his first start of the season. Although he entered the game with a 60-pitch limit, Garley went five innings and allowed a single run on two hits, netting six strikeouts.
On the other side, the Lobo offense provided Garley with a lot of run support, kicking off in the second inning with a Reyes RBI double. A four-run surge in the third inning gave UNM a commanding lead that they wouldn’t surrender. For good measure, the Lobos ended up scoring an additional seven runs before the series wrapped, while UNM pitchers allowed just three hits and one run. The win gives UNM a 5-1 record against BYU this season.
Looking forward, the Lobos will travel to Phoenix, Arizona to take on Grand Canyon University in a two-game series starting on Tuesday, March 3.
Spencer Butler is a sports reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @SpencerButler48.