UNM’s bid for a Mountain West Regular Season crown hit a speed bump over the weekend with a three-game road sweep at the hands of the Fresno State Bulldogs. Adding injury to insult, the Lobos may have lost power-hitting first baseman Jack Zoellner for the remainder of the season with a hand injury sustained on Friday night.
Pitching proved to be a problem for the Lobos over the weekend, as the Bulldogs hammered UNM pitchers for 40 combined runs over the three-game set, including 15 runs in the final game of the series on Sunday.
Sunday starter Luis Gonzalez allowed nine runs (six earned) over just three and two-thirds innings of work to receive the loss. Relievers Drew Gillespie, Carson Schneider, and Justin Slaten each allowed two runs in relief of Gonzalez out of the bullpen.
Third baseman Andre Gregory led UNM offensively with two hits and five runs batted in, including a three-run home run in the top of the fifth inning to cut the Bulldog lead to six. First baseman Carl Stajduhar added three hits in five at-bats, while shortstop Hayden Shilling and left fielder Beau each scored two runs.
“The thing I thought would get us down the road this year is our pitching,” UNM coach Ray Birmingham said via GoLobos.com. “This weekend wasn’t what I expected this time of the year. Fresno State is white hot right now, and I think losing Jack Zoellner really had an effect.”
Zoellner’s hand will be reevaluated by team doctors when the team returns home to Albuquerque on Monday. The initial fear of Birmingham and the Lobos is that Zoellner suffered a fracture and could miss the remainder of the year.
On a positive note, the Lobos (28-23-1 overall, 18-7-1 MWC) left Fresno still atop the MWC regular season standings with a .711 winning percentage. A sweep of Nevada at home in the final series of the year would secure the number one seed and the right to host the MWC Tournament.
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