The Lobos swept the California State University, Fresno Bulldogs culminating in a Kyle Smith walk-off in the third game. In a critical series, the Lobos took control and passed Fresno in the standings and took the season tiebreaker over them. They are now 10-10 in conference play.
UNM won by doing what they do best: hitting. Going into Sunday, April 30 the team had a batting average of .332, the third best in the nation. The team scored 39 runs on 49 hits in the series.
In the second game the Lobos went full offense getting as many hitters in the lineup as possible. This led to Lobo Reed Spenrath playing his first collegiate game at right field and was proud his coaches trusted him to play both in the infield and outfield. After the interview his teammates were eager to debut his new nickname "The Tarp" because he covers the whole field.
"We're starting to figure it out, we're getting hot right now,” Spenrath said. “It's nice to have everybody up because they can't pitch around you because they have to go up against the guy in front of or behind you … I've played a little bit of (right field) in the fall, and thankfully my coaches had a lot of trust in me to go out there and figure it out. It was a good time."
The first game was on Friday, April 28 and the Lobos had to rally to win 16-10. The team was down 9-0 and scored 10 unanswered runs to put them back in front. Lobo Arthur Steinkamp came in as a relief pitcher and took over on defense going 4.1 innings and giving up just one hit.
On offense, four Lobos had three or more hits and Lenny Junior Ashby had a great performance with 4 hits on 6 at-bats.
The game was tied 10-10 going into the bottom of the eighth. The Lobos had the bases loaded with two outs. Konner Kinkade singled to score a run and Sean Stephens earned a walk with the bases loaded to score another run. Jeffrey David doubled to score 3 and Ashby singled for a run to end the 6-run innings. Brian McBroom pitched the previous inning for the Lobos and closed out the game to pick up the win.
UNM won the second game of the series 17-7 on Friday, April 29. The Lobos earned an early lead and held onto it the entire game.
The team has a balanced offense hitting 7 home runs in the game. But it was Justin Olson who stole the show hitting a grand slam, a 3-run home run and a solo home run for a total of 8 RBIs.
Tristin Lively started and was the first pitcher in the conference to get to six wins in conference play. He went 5.1 innings on 105 pitches.
Going into the bottom of the fourth the Lobos were up 6-2 and had runners on second and third. Fresno intentionally walked Spenrath to load the bases with one out. Kyle Smith battled for a walk which scored a run for the Lobos. Olson launched his second home run of the day for a grand slam. Devon Dixon reached second on a fielder's choice and Chase Weissenborn singled to score a run. Lobos were up 12-2.
The Bulldogs did chip into the Lobos lead but Jaren Jackson pitched the last three innings of the game and earned a save. The Lobos won 17-7.
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The Lobos earned a 6-5 walk-off win in the final game of the series on Sunday, April 30. The Lobos gave up their lead in the ninth inning but were able to rally back. Smith had an incredible 10th inning, getting the final two outs and singling with two runners on base to score the winning run.
Isaac Gallegos pitched seven innings, gave up just five hits and 2 earned runs on 113 pitches. Brian McBroom earned the win by pitching the last inning and gave up just one hit.
In the top of the ninth, Lobos were up 4-3. With the bases loaded and two outs, Nikoh Mitchell doubled for the Bulldogs to give them the lead. UNM was down 5-4 going into the bottom of the ninth.
The Lobos had runners on first and second, Kinkade doubled to tie the game. The Bulldogs intentionally walked Spenrath to load the bases with two outs and they were able to get the final outs. Game was tied 5-5 going into extra innings.
With the bases loaded and one out Smith made the final two outs by chasing two foul balls to end the top of the 10th.
Deylan Pigford had a leadoff single to start the bottom of the inning and Stephens laid down a bunt and beat the throw to put runners on first and second. Smith singled to walk off Fresno 6-5.
After the series, Smith was ecstatic about the team’s performance and their position in the standings.
“It’s awesome: we needed that, we needed that so bad. So it’s nothing but pure excitement … That was a big series for us. We now have a 4-2 lead against them and we’re ready to go,” Smith said.
The Lobos play next against rival New Mexico State University on Tuesday, May 2 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