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Positive COVID test leads to Lobo baseball series being scrapped

A rough week got that much rougher for the University of New Mexico baseball team Tuesday when its upcoming series against San Jose State was canceled because of coronavirus issues.

One Lobo player received a positive result from Monday’s round of COVID-19 testing. That, combined with the requisite contact tracing surrounding any positive tests, took this weekend’s three-game series at Santa Ana Star Field off the schedule.

A Mountain West Conference statement Tuesday said the series will not be rescheduled.

“I feel bad for the kids,” UNM coach Ray Birmingham said. “They’ve followed the protocols and done everything right but COVID is still out there and people still catch it. We’re probably fortunate to have gone this long without it happening.”

Birmingham said the affected player tested negative Thursday before the team traveled to San Diego. UNM dropped all three games of a series at MWC-leading San Diego State over the weekend. The Lobos are 8-14 overall, 6-9 and in fifth place in the seven-team league.

All of the team’s players and coaches were in close proximity to the player during the trip and were retested after the positive result. The Lobos will not practice for at least several days, leaving next week’s series at Nevada in doubt, Birmingham said.

“Pitchers have to throw their bullpens at the very least before we can play a series,” he said. “Everything kind of depends on the testing and how much time we have to isolate. We’ll hope for the best.”

Monday’s positive result was the baseball program’s first since the team returned to campus in January, Birmingham said. One player tested positive before the team’s initial meeting and was quarantined, but he had not been in contact with any other players or coaches at the time.

“The pandemic has been really tough on everyone mentally and emotionally,” Birmingham said. “We’ve been lucky and haven’t had a lot of positive cases, but this thing has impacted players’ lives and families. Everyone’s doing the best they can to just get through it.”

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