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Lobos pick up win before enduring frustrating tie

Senior Josh Walker tossed a shutout as the Lobos defeated Missouri State.
Courtesy of UNM

The New Mexico baseball managed an unusual doubleheader split on Sunday afternoon.

After defeating Missouri State 7-0 in the opener, the Lobos had to settle for a 3-3 tie in 10 innings against Northern Illinois.

Wait, a tie in baseball? While rare, ties can happen when a team's travel arrangements are threatened. In this case, the Huskies (0-6) had a flight to catch Sunday evening that could not be rescheduled.

As a result, UNM (4-3) and NIU had no result from the final game of the Lobo Invitational.

"Doubleheaders are hard to sweep," coach Ray Birmingham said. "It's hard to win a doubleheader, but we played poorly in the second game. Not energy from some guys who I felt are better baseball players.

The opening game, at least, was a plus for the Lobos. Senior Josh Walker (1-1), who was roughed up for nine runs in four innings the previous weekend at San Diego, bounced back with a big-time performance.

The right-hander went the distance, scattering five hits while not walking a batter and striking out three.

"I kept the ball down," Walker said. "Every day's a learning experience. I learned from the previous game. I really just put my heart and soul with the team."

Birmingham was pleased with Walker and his pitching staff in general over the weekend.

"Pitching I feel like is doing fairly well, I really do," "Except for that one game in San Diego I think we've pitched better than we've ever pitched at the University of New Mexico."

The game with the Bears (6-2) was a scoreless duel until the fifth inning when Chase Harris belted a three-run homer to left field.

UNM would tack on three runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to avenge a 5-1 loss to MSU on Saturday.

"The regular season, especially the beginning of it, is all about learning," Walker said. "And figuring out what you need to work on and what you need to hold onto that you've already done and been successful with."

In the second game, the Huskies struck for two runs in the first inning on Micah McCulloch's ground-rule RBI double and Landon Tenhagen's RBI single.

The Lobos responded in the bottom of the frame thanks to an RBI groundout by Sam Haggerty, an RBI triple by Ryan Padilla and an RBI single by John Pustay to take a 3-2 lead.

NIU would tie the game in the second inning as Joe Battaglia hit a leadoff double and later came around to score on Justin Fletcher's RBI groundout.

From there, the game became a slog as neither team could push across the go-ahead run. The Huskies loaded the bases with two outs in the 10th, but Fletcher flew out to right field to end the threat.

The Lobos had two runners on with one out in their half of the 10th, but pinch hitter Chris DeVito flew out to right field and Kirby McGuire grounded out to third base. The game was then called so the Huskies could make their flight home.

"It is what it is," Birmingham said. "I tip my hat to Ed (Mathey, NIU coach) for letting that last batter go."

UNM will be back in action next weekend for four games in three days against Northern Colorado, starting Friday at 6 p.m.

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