Defense, or a lack thereof, was the undoing of the New Mexico baseball team in an 11-5 loss on Thursday night in Las Vegas. The Lobos made three errors that led to eight unearned runs in losing their Mountain West Conference Tournament opener.
UNM (37-19-1) will now face the winner of an early game between Nevada and Fresno State in an elimination game at 4 p.m. on Friday. SDSU (39-18) will face top-seeded UNLV in a winner's bracket showdown at 8 p.m.
The game was tied 3-3 in the seventh inning when the Lobos faltered defensively. With a runner on first and one out, starting pitcher Josh Walker (7-5) let a grounder go through his legs for the first error.
The Aztecs' Ty France then hit one at his counterpart, third baseman Andre Vigil, who had the ball bounce off his glove for a second error. The go-ahead run scored to put SDSU ahead for good.
After Walker hit Brad Haynal with a pitch, Steven Pallares made him pay with a grand slam to left-center that put the Aztecs ahead 8-3. Taylor Duree came in to pitch for the Lobos, but Ryan Muno reached on a fielding error by first baseman Jack Zoellner.
Tyler Adkinson then reached on an infield single, followed by Evan Potter's RBI single and Greg Allen's two-run double to make it 11-3. Not a single run scored that inning was earned.
Walker was charged with the loss, allowing eight runs, three earned, on eight hits and three walks in 6.2 innings. Duree was charged with another three unearned runs in one-third of an inning.
John Pustay, Jared Holley and Zoellner had two hits apiece for UNM. Overall, however, the Lobos had no answer for the Aztecs' one big inning.