New Mexico Rallies Past Aztecs, 9-7

Box Score (PDF) Opens in a new window
Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The snake-bit San Diego State baseball team experienced another agonizing loss on Sunday, as New Mexico rallied for a 9-7 walk-off victory in the finale of a Mountain West weekend series at Santa Ana Star Field.

The Lobos (23-19, 12-9 MW) scored the final eight runs of the game, capped by Devon Dixon's grand slam with one out in the bottom of the ninth to complete the series sweep and hand the Aztecs (11-32, 5-16 MW) their ninth straight defeat.

UNM's rally spoiled a huge day for SDSU's Jake Jackson, who finished one home run short of the cycle after a 3-for-4 effort at the plate with four RBIs, which equaled his career high.

Jackson roped a two-run triple to the gap in right-center field to give the Aztecs a seemingly comfortable 7-1 advantage in the top of the sixth.

However, the Lobos responded with solo home runs by Josh McAlister and Khalil Walker in the bottom of the inning to spark their comeback.

After SDSU was retired in order in the seventh, UNM trimmed the margin to 7-4 in its half of the frame when Reed Spenrath crossed the plate on Tye Wood's infield hit to shortstop with two outs. Previously, Spenrath threaded a single up the middle and advanced to the third on Gene Trujillo's double down the right-field line.

The Lobos narrowed the gap to 7-5 in the eighth after Dixon raced home on Konner Kinkade's sacrifice fly. Earlier, Dixon motored around to third on Walker's single to left center after pinch running for Ethan Ott, who drew a leadoff walk.

The Aztecs advanced a runner to third in the top of the ninth when Evan Sipe reached on an infield hit and took second on a subsequent throwing error before moving up on a wild pifch. However, Wil Bannister received a strikeout to prevent the Scarlet and Black from padding its lead.

Moments later, the stage was set for a dramatic finish when Spenrath dove headfirst to beat out an infield grounder to short, while Trujillo followed with a walk. After Wood struck out, McAlister laced a single to right-center field loading the bases.

Dixon then stepped to the plate and drilled a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left-center field to complete the improbable comeback.

Bannister (2-0), the Lobos' fourth reliever of the day who entered in the eighth, was credited with the victory after pitching two scoreless innings during which he yielded one hit and one walk. On the flip side, Evan Miranda (1-2) absorbed the tough loss after taking the hill with two outs in the seventh.

In addition to Jackson's performance, SDSU received three hits from Shaun Montoya, while Finley Bates (3 runs) and Tino Bethancourt finished with two apiece in the defeat.

Bates led off the game with a single and later scored on Jackson's sacrifice fly, while Bethancourt followed with an RBI double in the third to give the Aztecs an early 2-0 advantage.

SDSU added to its lead with a three-spot in the fifth on Jackson's run-scoring double, Bethancourt's RBI groundout and Sipe's sacrifice fly.

The Lobos ended their scoring drought in the bottom of the fifth when Jake Holland walked and circled the bases on Spenrath's double to right center.

Spenrath led all players with four hits on the afternoon, while McAlister and Walker finished with two each.

Aztec starter Xavier Cardenas III tossed six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and six walks while striking out six batters before giving way to Dylan Hawkes, who recorded two outs in the seventh.

Both teams stranded 10 runners for the contest.

San Diego State will play its final non-conference road game of the regular season on Tuesday, April 30, when it battles CSUN in a rematch at Matador Field in Northridge, California. Game time is set for 3 p.m. PT.  The Aztecs will be looking to avenge a 7-5 loss to the Matadors on Feb. 21 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.