The University of New Mexico Lobos scored three runs in the eighth inning to upset the No. 23 San Diego State Aztecs 5-4 in game one of a three-game series on Thursday evening at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
Connor Mang hit a two-run single off of relief pitcher Jorge Fernandez to plate Jared Mang and Robby Campillo to even the score at four apiece. Although Mang would get thrown out at second trying to take an extra base, Phillip Sikes came through with a clutch single up the middle to centerfield, scoring pinch runner Brayden Merritt from third base for the eventual game-winning run.
Justin Slaten pitched four and one-third strong innings of three-hit baseball for manager Ray Birmingham, with five strikeouts, three walks, and four earned runs on the day. But the stars of the game were the bullpen trio of Drew Gillespie, Malachi Emond, and closer Christian Tripp, who combined to allow just two hits in the final four and two-thirds innings of play.
Emond earned the win with three shutout innings, including five strikeouts and zero hits. Tripp closed out the final two batters of the game to earn his sixth save of the season.
Aztec starter Jacob Erickson allowed two earned runs on five hits, with two walks and a game-high eight strikeouts to earn the no-decision. Fernandez was tagged with the loss for allowing the game-tying two-run single to Mang.
The two teams face off on Friday for game two of the three-game series, with left-handed pitcher Robert Gasser taking the mound against Aztec starter Harrison Pyatt.