The University of New Mexico baseball team played their first series of conference play on March 10 to 12 against the Air Force Academy Falcons. The Lobos won two of the three games.
The Lobos lost 9-7 in 10 innings in the first game on March 10: UNM rallied late to tie the game in the ninth inning, but fell short in the 10th. The Lobos would go on to win the second game 15-0 on March 11, and won the third game 11-4 on March 12.
Riley Egloff was the starting pitcher for the Lobos for the first game. Jake Greiving earned a walk and Spencer doubled to put runners on second and third. Egloff threw a wild pitch and Greiving went home to make the score 1-0 for the Falcons. Trayden Tamiya doubled to score 2 points, but the Lobos got their third out to end the top of the first down 3-0.
Reed Spenrath had a hit toward left field that got him to first, and Jake Holland hit a home run to score 2. The second inning ended with the Lobos down 3-2. The Lobos didn't allow another run in the top of the third, and escaped the top of the fourth just allowing the one run. No Lobos got on base in the bottom of the fourth inning, and UNM was down 5-2.
The Lobos played solid defense, not allowing anyone to get to base in the top of the fifth. Lobo Lenny Junior Ashby then hit a double to score and chip into the Falcons lead. The fifth inning ended with the Lobos down 5-3.
The Falcons didn't score in the sixth inning, but Spenrath had a single and Holland followed it up with a double to score for the Lobos. It was a one run game with UNM down 5-4.
Both teams went scoreless in the seventh inning. To start the bottom of the eighth, Deylan Pigford hit a clutch home run to tie the game. Dylan Ditzenberger hit a single, but the Lobos didn't find another way to score. The game was tied 5-5 going into the ninth.
Sam Kulasingam singled and Jay Thomason hit a home run to give the Falcons the lead. The top of the ninth ended with the Lobos down 7-5.
Braydon Runion hit a double and Spenrath hit a clutch home run to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. Lobos had a flyout to end the inning tied 7-7.
The Falcons had three consecutive singles to load the bases to start the top of the 10th. Matt Thompson grounded out into a double play, but a runner scored to give the Falcons the lead. Kulasingam singled to score another runner. The Lobos were down 9-7 going into the bottom of the 10th.
Lobos weren't able to get anything together in the bottom of the 10th and Air Force won 9-7.
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On March 11, the second game of the series was played. Tristin Lively was the starting pitcher for the Lobos and had a truly dominant performance with the Lobos winning 15-0. Lively was in for nearly the entire game, going 8.1 innings and giving up just three hits.
The Lobos were the first to score in the first inning with Jeffery David hitting a triple and Ashley hitting a sacrifice fly to give the Lobos an early lead. The first inning ended with the Lobos up 1-0.
Lively had another quick inning not allowing a hit. Kyle Smith was walked and Pigford hustled, beating the pitcher in a foot race for a single. Chase Weissenborn hit a single to score a run, and Ditzenberger followed it up with a triple to score two. The second inning ended with the Lobos up 4-0.
Landon Boyd hit a double toward right field and Thompson was walked, but the Lobos didn't give up a run and neither did the Falcons in the bottom of the third.
Neither team scored until the sixth inning: Pigford singled and later stole second, and Weissenborn followed it up with a double to score a run. The Lobos were up 5-0 going into the seventh.
Lively continued his stellar play, retiring 10 straight batters. The Lobos didn't score in the bottom of the seventh.
Lively did not allow a hit in the top of the eighth. In the bottom of the eighth, the Lobos had the bases loaded with one out. Ditzenberger was walked which scored a run for the Lobos. David reached first on an error to score two. Ashby made it to first on another Falcon error and Runion singled to earn two runs. Spenrath singled to score a run. Smith had a two-run triple to force a pitching change. Smith ran home on a wild pitch. Pigford doubled and got home with a Weissenborn hit. The Lobos scored 10 runs to go up 15-0, which they maintained and won with.
The last game of the series was played on March 12 where the Lobos won 11-4. Isaac Gallegos was the starting pitcher for the Lobos: he threw for six innings and gave up five hits and four runs with six strikeouts.
The Lobos were the first to score, hitting four consecutive singles to score 2. Spenrath earned a walk to load the bases with no outs. Holland followed it up with a single to score 2. Devon Dixon hit a double to score a run to force a pitching change with just one out in the game. Duke Benge was put into the game to pitch and gave up a double to Weissenborn to score two runs. David, in his second time through the lineup, hit another single to score a run. The first inning ended with the Lobos up 8-0.
Gallegos had three strikeouts to end the top of the second. The Lobos didn't score in the second. Covin had a leadoff single in the third but the Lobos didn't allow another hit; they also couldn't score in the inning. In the fourth inning, Gallegos earned his sixth strikeout and didn't give up a run. For the Lobos, Runion hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth which ended with the Lobos up 9-0.
Gallegos walked back-to-back batters, and Kulasingam singled to score two, putting the Falcons on the scoreboard. The top of the fifth ended with the Lobos winning 9-2. The Lobos didn't score in the inning.
Gallegos pitched through the sixth and didn't give up a hit or a walk. Spenrath and Holland had back-to-back singles, but UNM didn't score.
The seventh started with a single and a walk which led to Gallegos getting taken out of the game after a great six innings. Terrell Hudson took over as pitcher and hit Thompson with a pitch to load the bases. Kulasingam hit a sacrifice fly to score one. Greiving grounded out but gave enough time for his teammate to score. Lobos still led 9-4 going into the bottom of the seventh but didn't score.
Hudson struck out two batters and didn't give up a hit. Ashby hit a double and Spenrath followed it up with a home run to score two. The bottom of the eighth ended with Lobos up 11-4. Will Bannister closed out the game for UNM to win the game 11-4.
After the third game, Ditzenberger commented on the team's mentality in conference play after starting out with a loss and talked about how the defense thrives when pitchers allow the infielders to make plays.
"We just know, in conference play, that every win is important. So, obviously it was the first conference game of the year and came out with a loss, but we got 30 of them so just flushing it and moving on to the next is all we can ask for," Ditzenberger said.
The Lobos next play against rival New Mexico State University on March 21 in Albuquerque.
Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @thomasbulger10