The University of New Mexico baseball team’s 2017 season game to an end on Saturday afternoon with an 11-5 loss to Fresno State in the MWC tournament. Although the Lobos failed to win the tournament on their home field, they did finish as the conference regular season champion with a 30-27-1 overall record.
Fresno State jumped out to an early five-run lead with three runs in the second and two more in the third inning, but the Lobos responded well to make the game close with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, capped by a two-run single to right by shortstop Hayden Shilling.
Bulldog right fielder Jake Stone singled in two runs in response in the top of the fifth frame, and a home run by Jared Akins put the game away in the top of the sixth inning.
Carson Schneider allowed seven earned runs on 11 hits over four innings of work in the loss, while designated hitter Danny Collier and Schilling led the Lobos offensively with three of UNM’s nine hits on the day.
It was a disappointing end to a promising season. A win in the tournament would have given the Lobos an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, but at at-large bid seems all but impossible considering the Lobos finished just three games over .500 and lost seven of their last nine games.
Injuries to critical players like MWC co-player of the year Jack Zoellner, the loss of Luis Gonzalez due to academic ineligibility, sub-par pitching, and uncharacteristic errors led to the Lobo’s demise down the stretch of the season.
“We’re not the same team that started the season,” Lobos coach Ray Birmingham said in a quote via the Albuquerque Journal. “Part of it was injuries and things we couldn’t control, but part of it was just not rising to the occasion. We have some things to address this offseason, and we’ll address them.”
The Lobos will have the summer and fall to address the issues that plagued them down the stretch, as they look to win back-to-back MW regular season crowns.