New Mexico Takes Advantage of Late-Game Errors to Upset Top Seed TCU, 4-3
May 26, 2011
Mountain West Senior Writer
SAN DIEGO - Junior leftfielder Luke Campbell went 2-for-3 with an RBI and reliever Bobby Mares allowed one hit over the final four innings as sixth-seeded New Mexico rallied to beat top-seeded TCU 4-3 Wednesday night in the Mountain West Baseball Championship at San Diego State's Tony Gwynn Stadium.
New Mexico (18-39), which knocked off No. 3 seed BYU in Tuesday's opening round, advanced to face No. 2 seed Utah at 7 p.m. PT on Thursday.
TCU (40-16), meanwhile, which took five of six from the Lobos during the regular season, lost for the first time in seven games. The Horned Frogs, who entered the tournament ranked No. 10 in the latest Baseball America poll, will take on the winner of the elimination game between BYU and No. 4 seed San Diego State at 3 p.m. PT on Thursday.
A No. 6 seed has won the tournament only once, that coming in 2009 when Utah defeated San Diego State. But New Mexico's seed, as well as its record, may be a bit deceiving. The Lobos have faced some of the toughest competition in the nation this season, having played nine 30-win teams, eight that were ranked in the Top 30. New Mexico has played more than half of its games this season against nationally-ranked opponents.
"Everybody asks about our record, but we're just a bunch of young kids playing a harder schedule than we've ever played," said coach Ray Birmingham. "If we'd have played the schedule that we have in the past, we'd probably have 34 or 35 wins. But we're not just trying to get wins. We're trying to build a program that can compete with teams like TCU year in and year out. The only way you get better is to play the best teams in the country."
New Mexico trailed 3-1 heading into the eighth when Ben Woodchick doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a single to right by Campbell. But TCU, which committed four errors, paid dearly for its final miscue when shortstop Taylor Featherston was unable to corral Trey Porras' ground ball, allowing both DJ Peterson and Campbell to score.
The Horned Frogs loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, but Mares, facing junior leftfielder Jason Coats (3-for-5), was able to induce a game-ending double play.
"New Mexico is playing to avoid having their season end," said TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle. "Our season isn't going to end after this weekend, but we try and take a lot more pride in the fact that if there's a championship to win, we want to win it, whether it's ping-pong or baseball. There's a lot more for us on the line than just being in the NCAA Tournament."
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