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Dominant bullpen leads Lobos to sweep of Jayhawks

Reliever A.J. Carman tossed 3.2 scoreless innings for the Lobos in a win over Kansas.
Courtesy of UNM

The New Mexico baseball team got 6.2 scoreless innings of relief from its bullpen in a 10-4 victory over visiting Kansas on Wednesday afternoon.

Senior A.J. Carman (3.2 innings), junior Tyler Gibson (two innings) and sophomore Victor Sanchez (one inning) combined to allow just two hits and three walks.

"It's a competition for innings out there, so if you don't pitch well, you're not going to pitch for a while," Carman said. "No pressure at all."

While the bullpen was busy shutting down the Jayhawks (14-7), the Lobo hitters were slowly coming to life.

Kansas jumped out to a 4-0 lead on UNM starter Mike Gould, only to see the Lobos (14-7-1) respond with two runs in the fourth to cut the lead in half.

In the fifth, UNM did all its damage with two outs. Freshman Danny Collier drew a walk, followed by senior Chase Harris bunting for a single. Senior John Pustay then made the Jayhawks pay with a two-run double to left field, tying the game at 4-4.

"We're doing a good job of staying inside the ball, especially staying within ourselves and just trying to do the job, especially with two strikes," said Pustay, who went 3-for-5. "I think we did a really good job of putting the ball in play and making things happen."

Ryan Padilla's RBI single to right field followed, giving the Lobos their first lead at 5-4. They would never trail again.

UNM put up five insurance runs in the eighth, highlighted by Sam Haggerty's two-run single.

"Once we get rolling we're not a team you really want to mess with and keep around," Pustay said.

Kansas' early lead was blunted by Carman (2-0) and company. The senior right-hander induced a double play against Ka'iana Eldredge to help the Lobos escape a jam in the third inning.

From there, Carman cruised along with a little more help from his defense. Right fielder Harris threw out a runner at home plate in the fourth inning and left fielder Collier threw out a runner at third base to end the sixth inning. In between, center fielder Aaron Siple made an amazing diving catch in the fifth, barely hanging onto a ball that kept trying to drift away to his right.

"Yeah, the defense was incredible," Carman said. "Hopefully some film will be sent to ESPN, some Web Gems. It's amazing what will happen when you let the defense work."

Seeing Carman, who had struggled in his last few outings, succeed on Wednesday was welcomed by coach Ray Birmingham.

"He ate up some innings and threw some goose eggs," Birmingham said.

The Lobos have now won five in a row as they re-enter Mountain West Conference play against San Jose State for three games, starting Friday at 6 p.m.