New Mexico jumps all over Utah in series opener

If the top of the third inning hadn’t happened, the game would have been pretty close.

Unfortunately for the Utes, it did happen, and they really had no chance afterward.

In Thursday’s series opener against conference rival New Mexico, the Utes fell behind early in the first inning when the Lobos posted two runs.

Then things got ugly.

Taking their 2-0 lead into the top of the third inning, the Lobos put on a nine-run circus against the Utes, led by starting pitcher Jason Price, en route to a 15-4 loss. Price dropped to 2-5 on the season.

“We didn’t compete today,” U baseball coach Tim Esmay said after the game.

Shining through for the Lobos was shortstop Josh Mader, who began the third-inning assault with a solo home run to left center field. After the team followed with a handful of runs, Mader finished the inning with another shot to left field, this time driving in three runs for a total of four RBI on the day. Mader drove in the same amount of runs the Utes scored all day.

After a scoreless inning by the Utes, New Mexico came through with four more runs in the fourth inning for a 15-0 lead.

“When you’re down 15-0, the ball is in their court. You can’t give up nine runs in one inning,” Esmay said.

However, just as Esmay had predicted in an interview before the game, it was not the course of the entire game that decided the outcome, but rather one inning.

Also, the Utes’ pitching staff gave up 16 hits, while the offense was only able to produce seven itself. In the three games before Thursday, the Utes had pounded out 50 hits against Air Force and Southern Utah.

The Utes face off against the Lobos again today at 2 p.m. at Ute Field in the second of a three game series. Saturday’s game will also be at Ute Field, starting at noon. After Thursday’s loss, Utah is 6 18 on the season and 2-6 in Mountain West Conference play.

Right fielder Eric Chevalier continued to be a bright spot for the Utes, as he went 2-for-3 in the loss with a run and an RBI, and extended his MWC hitting streak to 29 games.

The Utes have two more chances against the Lobos, and Esmay is convinced that it will take a full effort out of the team’s entire roster.

“It’s going to take 30 guys competing tomorrow…30 guys with pride, believing in this uniform,” Esmay said.

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