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Lobos Top Rebels in Baseball Opener

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DEAN HANSOn/JOURNAL UNM’s Adam Courcha scores as UNLV catcher Chad Claus bobbles the ball during the fifth inning of Friday’s game.

Rudy Jaramillo couldn’t help smiling when asked about his statistics.

The freshman left-hander gave the University of New Mexico baseball team a lift Friday, pitching a complete game as the Lobos topped UNLV 8-4 at Isotopes Park.

As one might imagine, Jaramillo wasn’t the only person smiling in New Mexico’s dugout after the game.

“Can’t say enough,” Lobo coach Ray Birmingham said. “He’s the kind of pitcher we’re after, fills the plate with strikes and attacks the hitters. He’s a winner.”

The victory in front of 1,307 fans allowed New Mexico (32-14 overall, 12-5 Mountain West Conference) to take sole possession of second place in the MWC, one game behind TCU.

Jaramillo (3-0), who grew up in Albuquerque before moving to Arizona as a teenager, recorded UNM’s first complete game of the season with an unlikely pitching line. Jaramillo allowed 12 – count ‘em – hits, but coaxed the Rebels (23-23, 7-9) into three double plays, didn’t walk a batter and struck out six, throwing 125 pitches.

When was Jaramillo’s last 12-hitter?

“Never,” he said with a laugh. “My whole plan was just throw strikes and let the defense work.”

UNLV starter Tanner Peters (5-4) followed the same blueprint for four innings. He had the Lobos beating the ball into the dirt, getting nine groundouts as the Rebels held a 2-1 lead. Anthony Morel’s solo homer in the top of the fifth increased the margin to 3-1.

New Mexico’s batters finally starting solving Peters in the bottom of the fifth. Mike Brownstein, Max Willett and Brian Cavazos-Galvez had RBI singles, and Ryan Honeycutt launched a two-run homer to left as the Lobos rallied for five runs and a 6-3 lead.

“Give that to the coaches,” Honeycutt said of the opposite-field shot, his fourth of the season. “Pitchers are staying away from me, and the coaches have had me working all year on being patient and going the other way.”

Honeycutt, who was 2-for-3, added an RBI single in the sixth to make it 7-3. Adam Courcha’s run-scoring hit in the seventh capped UNM’s scoring.

At that point, the biggest question was whether Jaramillo could go the distance. Having started the season as a reliever, he’d pitched just 26 innings coming into the game. His longest previous outing was six innings.

“I was a little tired at the end,” Jaramillo said, “but my arm still felt strong. You can’t be out there feeling weak.”

Jaramillo gave up a one-out triple to UNLV’s Rance Roundy in the ninth, but the freshman clearly wanted the complete game at that point. He retired Scott Berke on a sacrifice fly, then wrapped it up by getting Morel to ground out.

“Hats off to him,” Honeycutt said of Jaramillo. “Ever since the fall, he’s been the man. He pitched great and has a real bright future here.”

Roundy (4-for-4) and Morel (3-for-4) combined to collect seven of the Rebels’ 12 hits. UNM had five players with multiple hits, paced by Brownstein and Cavazos-Galvez with three apiece. Brownstein had reached base nine consecutive times before striking out in the seventh inning.

NOTE: The UNM baseball team’s annual banquet will be Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Ladera Golf Course banquet room. Tickets are $35. For more information call JC Lopez at 507-4213.

Today
UNLV at New Mexico, 1:30 p.m., Isotopes Park
Radio: KDEF-AM (1150)

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