The University of New Mexico and Nevada baseball teams spent more than eight hours trading punches Saturday at Santa Ana Star Field — only to play to a draw.
The Lobos staged two dramatic comebacks in the opener of a doubleheader, ultimately pulling out a 6-5, 11-inning win. Nevada returned the favor in the nightcap, plating six runs in the final two innings to earn a 9-7 victory and split the twin bill.
The series finale is set for noon on Sunday (101.7 FM, themw.com).
Harry Fullerton and Kyler Castillo delivered tying two-run singles in the ninth and 10th innings, and Jarrett Gonzales stroked a walk-off hit in the 11th as UNM edged Nevada 6-5 in a marathon thriller Saturday.
The opener of the Mountain West series at Santa Ana Star Field took 4 hours and 16 minutes to complete, but the Lobos hardly seemed to mind. UNM’s bench and bullpen emptied as players raced onto the field to swarm Gonzales after his clinching line drive to left-center field.
UNM has struggled mightily to hit with runners on base for much of the season and did so again for most of Saturday’s opener. The Lobos went to the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 3-1 and had stranded 12 to that point. But Fullerton’s one-out, bases-loaded single to left field tied the game and seemed to provide the Lobos with a needed jolt of confidence.
Nevada struck for a pair of runs in the top of the 10th to grab a 5-3 lead, but UNM promptly answered. Lance Russell doubled off the fence in right field to put runners at second and third with no outs. Two batters later, Castillo singled home Gonzales (who started the inning at second base) and Russell to make the score 5-5.
Lobos pitcher Cody Dye, who got the final out with the bases loaded in the 10th, then worked a scoreless 11th. Connor Mang was placed on second base to start the bottom of the 11th, and he moved to third on Willie Cano’s sacrifice bunt. Gonzales followed with his RBI hit.
The final three innings featured plenty of offense after pitching dominated the first eight frames. Lobos starter Nathaniel Garley limited the Wolf Pack to two runs over seven solid innings, allowing seven hits, no walks and striking out five.
Nevada starter Alejandro Murillo was equally effective, allowing just one run on six hits through six innings. Willie Cano’s RBI double in the sixth innings accounted for UNM’s only run against Murillo.
UNM had an opportunity to complete a doubleheader sweep in game two, scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to grab a 5-3 lead. Fullerton, who tripled twice in the game, scored on a double steal to give the Lobos (7-11, 5-6 Mountain West) the lead.
But Nevada took advantage of New Mexico’s bullpen, scoring four runs in the top of the eighth on a collection of soft hits that included two bunt singles. Connor Mang’s bases-loaded single tied the score at 7-7 in the bottom of the eighth, but again the Wolf Pack answered.
A hit batter, a walk and Nevada’s third bunt single of the game loaded the bases, and Brady Hormel’s two-run single gave the Wolf Pack the lead for good.
UNM got solid starting pitching in both games. Justin Armbruester struck out 11 in 5 1/3 innings of the nightcap but departed after throwing 97 pitches.
• In Seattle, senior right-hander Chris Jefferson pitched his national-best third complete game as New Mexico State (10-9, 8-3 Western Athletic Conference) won 2-1 over host Seattle University (7-13, 2-5) in game one of a doubleheader. The Redhawks bounced back to win the nightcap 4-3. NMSU tries to salvage a split of the four-game set on Sunday.
SOFTBALL: On its home field for the first time this season, New Mexico finally got its second win of the season.
Rachael Hathoot’s double scored Andrea Howard as the Lobos walked off Colorado State 7-6 in game two of a doubleheader after losing 3-2 in the opener, which stretched 2-22 UNM’s losing streak to 19 games.
Cameryn O’Grady scored three runs and drove in three for the Lobos in the nightcap. UNM tries to win the series with a noon game Sunday.
• In Seattle, New Mexico State (16-15, 1-2) plated four first-inning runs and held on for a 6-5 WAC win over Seattle University (15-15, 2-1), The win snapped a six-game losing streak to the Redhawks, dating back to 2019.
Kayla Bowen’s three-run homer highlighted the Aggies’ first, and she went 3-for-4. Felicia De La Torre (8-7) earned the win in 3 1/3 innings of relief, giving up only a two-out, seventh-inning homer that led to the final score.
SOCCER: In Logan, Utah, New Mexico (5-1, 5-1 Mountain West) took its first loss of the season, 1-0 at Utah State (2-4, 2-4).
UNM, which had scored 12 goals in its previous three games, peppered Aggie goalkeeper Diera Walton with 12 of the Lobos’ 20 shots on goal, only to come up empty. Imelda Williams scored in the 53rd minute for USU.
The Lobo women are back in action Friday at Air Force.
• In Las Cruces, Hannah Leitner’s goal in the 50th minute decided the 1-0 win for host New Mexico State (4-9-1) over Dixie State (2-8-2). NMSU outshot the visitors 8-3, and Dmitri Fong got the Senior Day start in the net and had three saves.
WOMEN’S TENNIS: At the McKinnon Family Tennis Center, UNM improved to 7-2 by beating Utah State 4-0. The Lobo women host Boise State Sunday.
MEN’S TENNIS: In Phoenix, New Mexico State won its WAC opener 7-0 over short-handed UTRGV. Sunday, the Aggies face host Grand Canyon in a rematch of the 2019 WAC tournament championship.
Texas Tech won 4-2 Saturday over UNM at the Linda Estes Tennis Center.