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UNM baseball took a late lead over No. 14 Texas Tech, but Red Raiders rally to win

Mar. 5—This one had all the signs of an early knockout. Instead it went the distance.

No. 14 Texas Tech grabbed a 7-0 lead over the University of New Mexico baseball team Tuesday at Santa Ana Star Field, but ended up having to rally for an 11-8 victory that came down to the final pitch.

The Lobos battled their way off the ropes and held an 8-7 lead after five innings, but were unable to hold it. Dylan Maxcey's bases-loaded double sparked a four-run Red Raiders rally in the sixth inning that proved to be the difference.

UNM made things interesting in the ninth, putting two runners on for pinch-hitter Jake Holland, who squared up a pitch from reliever Trendan Parish. But Holland's line drive was caught just in front of the warning track in left-center field to end the game.

"Good ballgame," UNM coach Tod Brown said. "Obviously, we got off to a terrible start but the guys battled back, turned the momentum and gave us a chance. Just too many free passes at the end of the day."

Texas Tech is ranked No. 14 in Baseball America's Top 25 and No. 17 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

New Mexico (7-6) finished with a 12-11 edge in hits, but Texas Tech (10-2) capitalized on four walks and four hit batsmen during its two big innings. UNM starter Wyatt Hardy gave up three bases on balls during a five-run first, and reliever Arthur Steinkamp plunked two Red Raider batters ahead of Maxcey's double in the sixth.

UNM's pitching has been erratic at best during the early season, but there were some positives for the Lobos to take away Tuesday. Freshman right-hander Ryan Castillo, a Los Lunas native, worked four solid innings in relief of Hardy, allowing the first two hitters he faced to score but shutting Texas Tech down over the rest of his appearance.

"Everything revolves around pitching," Brown said. "That's why those guys make the money they do, and that's why quality pitching is so hard to find. Seeing a freshman like Ryan Castillo come in and put up zeroes against a good hitting team, that was big for us."

Gavin Kash went 3-for-6 with a homer for Texas Tech, which led 7-0 in the middle of the second inning. UNM bounced back with four runs in the second and three in the third to even the score at 7-7. Konner Kincade smacked a two-run single in the second and added an RBI base hit in the third for the Lobos.

Kincade, who finished 2-for-5, picked up his fourth RBI of the game in the fifth to give UNM an 8-7 lead. Kincade's ground ball scored Devon Dixon, who had doubled and went 3-for-4 on the day.

Brown hopes the solid performance will give the Lobos confidence going into the weekend. UNM opens Mountain West play with three-game home series against UNLV beginning Friday at 6 p.m.

"Everything we've done in these first 13 games was to get ready for Friday," Brown said. "We've got 30 conference games to play and those are what we'll be judged on. That's our measuring stick."