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Gamecocks shut down tired Lobos

Junior Alex Real went 2-for-3 with a run scored in the Lobos' loss to Jacksonville State.
Junior Alex Real went 2-for-3 with a run scored in the Lobos' loss to Jacksonville State.
Courtesy of UNM

The New Mexico baseball team has dealt with a lot of travel and a lot of games bunched close together in recent weeks.

It all seemed to catch up to the Lobos on Sunday afternoon as they suffered an ugly 9-2 defeat at the hands of visiting Jacksonville State.

"The one thing I worry about is fatigue," coach Ray Birmingham said. "With so many games, so repetitive, so many guys haven't played like that. That's the thing I worry about the most. When you get tired you don't perform like you should.

"But I'm happy, we took two of three from a good team."

UNM (22-11-1) did win the series, but nearly suffered a shutout in the finale. Danny DeVito's pinch-hit RBI double and then an RBI groundout by fellow freshman Lane Milligan helped the Lobos avoid that fate.

Adam Polk (3-1), normally the Gamecocks' Friday starter, was dominant for 6.2 innings. He allowed just two hits, a single to Danny Collier in the sixth inning and a ground-rule double to Alex Real in the seventh. Polk walked two and struck out three.

"He's a crafty lefty, probably didn't throw over high 80s but definitely did a great job with his changeup," said Real, who had two of his team's five hits. "He threw the ball low. Real good curveball. When he was ahead in the count he buried the ball. As hitters we didn't do a great job laying off of it. I feel like yes he did a great job, but we gave him some of those (outs), also."

UNM senior Josh Walker (4-2) was not able to match Polk, allowing five runs, four earned, on 10 hits and one walk in six innings.

"I thought they did a good job," Birmingham said of the Gamecocks. "They let the ball travel (in the strike zone)."

Jacksonville State (19-12) jumped on Walker in the third inning. Paschal Petrongolo, who finished the game 5-for-5, opened the scoring with an RBI single. Stephen Bartlett followed with a two-run double to left and another run scored on an error by left fielder Kirby McGuire to make it 4-0.

Even after the Gamecocks scored another run in the fifth, Birmingham felt the Lobos could still rally. That hope dissipated when Jacksonville State added three more runs in the eighth and two in the ninth.

"When it was 5-0 I thought we might have a chance in the eighth and ninth, but when it got to 9-0 it was going to be (too) hard with guys breaking down," Birmingham said.

There will be little rest for UNM as the Lobos travel to Stephen F. Austin for a two-game series on Tuesday, followed by a resumption of Mountain West Conference play on Friday when Fresno State comes to town for three games.

"We're just going to keep plugging because Stephen F. Austin's not going to be a slouch and then we come back and play Fresno," Birmingham said. "We can't let the fatigue get to us. We're not going to out-talent people. We have to out-execute people."

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