Carson Schneider pitched brilliantly into the ninth inning as the host New Mexico Lobos held on for a 2-1 victory over Fresno State on Friday night. The win moves UNM into sole possession of first place in the Mountain West.
Schneider (6-1) allowed just one run on five hits and three walks while striking out six in 8.1 innings. The lefty did what he does best, keeping the ball on the ground and trusting his defense to make the plays.
“I was just trying to give my team the best chance of winning,” Schneider said. “I knew that they were going to put up enough runs for us to win the game and I was just trying to throw up enough zeroes as possible before our ‘pen came in to shut the door.”
The Lobo defense was more than up to the task. Third baseman Carl Stajduhar and shortstop Dalton Bowers both shined throughout the night.
“Like coach says, it’s not just hitting, we work on hitting a lot but you can’t win ballgames if you have no defense,” Stajduhar said. “So defense is a big part and everybody is stepping up and playing relaly good defnnse now.”
Fresno State (21-10, 9-4) finally got to Schneider in the ninth as Scott Silva doubled to left to start the frame. Two batters later, Brody Russell hit a sharp single up the middle to drive in the Bulldogs’ only run.
UNM (21-9, 10-3) brought in right-hander Victor Sanchez, who struck out Aaron Arruda swinging, though Russell was able to steal second base. With lefty hitter Austin Guibor coming up, the Lobos turned to southpaw Alex Estrella, who struck him out looking on a full count to end the game and earn his fourth save.
“I wanted (to stay out there) but I knew that they had my back,” Schneider said. “I was more than willing to give the ball up at the end.”
Fresno State starter Ricky Tyler Thomas (4-3) pitched quite a game as well. He allowed two runs, one earned, on seven hits, did not walk a batter and struck out four in eight innings.
“Both our teams have great starters, they’ve always had a great pitching staff,” Schneider said. “It was nice for us to throw up two runs, to get that insurance run in the bottom of the eighth.”
The Lobos got to Thomas in the fourth. Chris DeVito reached on a single to second base and advanced to second on an error.
Three batters later, with DeVito now on third base, Jared Mang dropped a soft liner into shallow center to make it 1-0. Thomas then retired 11 of the next 12 UNM batters he faced.
The Lobos got what proved to be a critical insurance run in the eighth. With two outs and a runner on first, DeVito singled up the middle to put runners at the corners.
Stajduhar stepped up, fully aware the wind and rain were knocking down any ball hit into the air. Instead, he sliced a sharp single through the left side to make it 2-0.
“I was just trying to hit something hard, get that run in for Carson,” Stajduhar said. “He pitched his butt off tonight and we needed that extra run.”
UNM and Fresno State will continue their series Saturday at 2 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Tyler Stevens (4-2, 4.57 ERA) will start for the Lobos against Bulldogs junior right-hander Jimmy Lambert (6-0, 1.61).