ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With the Lobos’ Mountain West regular season championship trophy sitting in the middle of the locker room, 10th-year University of New Mexico coachRay Birmingham spoke candidly to a Lobo team that just had its season end in an 11-5 loss to Fresno State on Saturday afternoon during the Mountain West Tournament at Santa Ana Star Field.
“These things aren’t easy to get – and they continue to get harder as time goes on,” Birmingham told his team pointing to the trophy. “For you seniors and guys that get drafted and won’t be back – you’ll always be a part of this and make sure you hold these guys accountable. This is a tradition. … You young guys coming back, continue to work hard because (everybody else) in the conference is coming for you. And these guys that are moving on in this room and the other Lobos that helped build this – they are going to call you out and make you accountable if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain.”
UNM, which has won either a Mountain West regular season or tournament title in six of the last seven years, ended its season 30-27-1 after falling to the Bulldogs on Saturday. The Lobos fell behind 5-0 after three innings of play before getting back into the game with a three-run fourth inning thanks to an RBI single byDanny Collier and a two-run single by Hayden Schilling.
However, Fresno State added two more in both the fifth and sixth innings to build a 9-4 lead and cruised to the 11-5 victory.
With the Lobos playing without two key pieces of their lineup in Tony Gwynn Co-Player of the Year Jack Zoellner due to injury and lead-off hitter, center fielder and No. 3 starting pitcher Luis Gonzalez – it was an uphill climb for UNM, but nobody wanted to make that an excuse.
“We had a lot of adversity, but everyone in that dugout kept grinding and stayed the course,” Schilling said. “Not a single person gave up. That’s all you can ask for. I’m proud of how everyone attacked this weekend.”
Carson Schneider picked up the loss Saturday, going four innings and giving up seven runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Freshman Drew Gillespie was the Lobos’ most effective pitcher on the day, tossing a hitless 1.1 innings of relief with three strikeouts.
Schilling was the lone Lobo with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI. He finished the Mountain West Tournament 4-for-10 with two doubles and seven RBI. Collier finished Saturday 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs.