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SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The University of New Mexico Lobo baseball team beat Utah 6-5 Thursday night and is one win away from the 2011 Mountain West Conference Championship and the automatic bid that would return UNM to the NCAA postseason.
The Lobos, who struggled throughout the year in finding ways to win close games, picked up their third straight one-run, upset victory in the MWC tourney. The sixth-seeded Lobos have knocked off No. 3 BYU 5-4, No. 1 TCU 4-3 and No. 2 Utah by a single tally.
Jacob Nelson, who was the hero of Tuesday’s win over BYU, muscled a two-strike single through the infield on the right side to score DJ Peterson for what would become the game-winning run.
Peterson was hit by a pitch to open the inning, was bunted over to second by Luke Campbell and moved to third on a fly to center by Mitchell Garver.
“We had good timely hitting and good pitching,” said Lobo manager Ray Birmingham. “This team has been through a lot. There is a method to my madness and we’re getting there.”
The win puts UNM into tonight’s title game, against the winner of Utah and TCU, who faced off in an elimination game this afternoon — results weren’t available as of press time. If necessary, the two teams in tonight’s game will face off in a one-game playoff Saturday at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
The Lobos’ late-inning heroics have been a staple for the MWC tournament. The Lobos came up with huge runs in the eighth and the 11th against BYU, came up big in the eighth against TCU, and pushed the winning run across the plate in the ninth inning against Utah.
“We’ve known all along what this team has and what it can do. We’ve been waiting all season for it to all come together,” said UNM’s Luke Campbell.