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Lobos small ball beats visiting Spartans

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The little things just keep adding up for the University of New Mexico baseball team.

Effective pitching, solid defense and lots of singles netted the Lobos their sixth consecutive win Friday night. UNM scored seven runs in the final two innings to turn a tight game into a 10-1 romp over San Jose State at Lobo Field.

Alex Real posted the biggest numbers, going 4-for-5 with four RBIs and the Lobos’ only extra-base hit – a two-run double. But as a group New Mexico (15-7-1, 5-2 Mountain West) racked up 13 singles, permitted just one walk and stranded 10 Spartans on base.

Ah, those little things.

“That’s what we do,” coach Ray Birmingham said. “Our pitchers give up a lot of singles but not many runs, and our hitters put balls in play. Seems to be working pretty well.”

The formula did not work as well for the Spartans (6-17, 3-7), who committed five errors leading to five unearned runs. Chase Harris took particular advantage, scoring on one error and twice reaching base on San Jose State miscues.

“We scored some runs, and they gave us some runs,” Birmingham said. “I think our speed caused some of those errors because guys knew they had to hurry.”

Harris was a prime example. The Lobo senior went from first to third on Alex Real’s single in the first, then raced home when the throw into the infield briefly got away.

UNM still led 1-0 in the fifth when Harris hit a high chopper back to Spartans pitcher Jonathan Hernandez. After setting himself, Hernandez turned to see a hustling Harris just steps from first. His rushed throw sailed over first baseman Jacob Valdez, allowing a run to score and Harris to advance to third. He scored on a Real single to make the score 3-0.

“I think our hitting’s matured lately,” Real said. “We’ve cut down on our strikeouts, and guys just battle and put balls in play. Little things make a big difference in the end.”

Lobo starter Jonathan Cuellar (2-1) worked five scoreless innings, but SJSU did make things interesting in the seventh. Mike Simonini’s RBI single trimmed the deficit to 3-1 and the Spartans had the bases loaded with two outs.

But Taylor Duree got Brett Bautista to ground out to end the threat. Duree worked the final 21/3 innings to earn his first save.

Ryan Padilla and Aaron Siple had three hits apiece for the Lobos, who outhit the Spartans 14-11. Simonini was one of five Spartans to collect two hits.

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