The New Mexico baseball team was on an emotional high after taking two of three from conference rival San Diego State over the weekend. It took one inning for that high to become a low at the hands of Utah Valley, which whipped the host Lobos 12-8 on Monday afternoon.
UNM (33-16-1) fell into an early hole and could not dig its way out. The Wolverines (22-24), who took two of three at New Mexico State over the weekend, scored five runs in the first inning and never trailed.
"We were feeling pretty confident coming into this game, but they came out swinging hot," said senior left fielder John Pustay. "Our pitching wasn't that great. Our offense had to adjust to the low strike zone. There were a lot of low strikes (called), which forced us to swing at a lot of things we didn't want to swing at. We battled back a little bit, but it was one of those days that didn't go our way."
Jonathan Cuellar (3-3) lasted just 1.1 innings, allowing six runs, five earned, on six hits and one walk. Sean Moysh tagged him for a three-run homer in the first inning.
The bullpen was somewhat more effective, though lefty Kevin Baumgartner coughed up three hits that turned into three runs without recording an out in a five-run seventh inning. That essentially put the nail in the Lobos' coffin.
"We didn't pitch very well ... actually, terrible," coach Ray Birmingham said. "Everybody was (up in the zone). The crazy thing is the umpire was giving (strikes) way down."
UNM got as close as 7-6 in the sixth inning, but could never fully close the gap. Pustay went 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI, while Alex Real was 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI doubles. Real has a team-high 23 doubles, which now ties him for first place in all of college baseball.
"It's nice to not have to play any more midweek games, but this was a big game for us and we really needed to the W," Pustay said. "It's in the past now; we've got to focus on two big conference series we need to do well in."
The Lobos have six games remaining in the regular season, all in Mountain West play where they are 16-8 and tied for first place with UNLV. UNM hits the road to Nevada on Friday for three games, before returning home on May 15 for three games against Air Force. The first two games in that series have been moved from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. starts to help accommodate the state high school baseball tournament.