New Mexico showed Friday why it is the Mountain West’s best hitting team.
The Lobos jumped on UNLV’s Buddy Borden, the conference co-pitcher of the year, for six runs in six innings to cruise to a 7-1 victory in the Mountain West baseball tournament at Fresno, Calif.
Top-seeded New Mexico (37-18) will play for the championship at 7 p.m. today against No. 2 UNLV (37-19) or No. 3 San Diego State (28-29). The Rebels will play San Diego State in an elimination game at 3.
UNLV sophomore right-hander John Richy will pitch against the Aztecs. If the Rebels win, coach Tim Chambers said “Johnny Whole Staff” will take the mound against the Lobos.
“We’ve got plenty of arms,” Chambers said. “We have pretty much everybody available except (Erick) Fedde and Buddy. Fedde said, ‘If we get to Sunday, I’ll take the ball.’ ”
UNLV must win twice today to force a deciding game Sunday.
The tournament champion receives an automatic bid to an NCAA regional, and New Mexico is believed to be the only Mountain West team assured of a spot. UNLV is considered a bubble team.
“If we get to Sunday, I haven’t given up on the fact that will get us a bid to a regional,” Chambers said.
New Mexico entered the game with a .337 batting average, best in the Mountain West. But UNLV sent a pitcher to the mound, right-hander Borden, who had been dominant in leading the conference with a 2.19 ERA.
Not in this game.
The Lobos tagged Borden (8-2) for seven hits and runs in each of the first three innings and four of the first five.
Mitch Garver’s two-run homer in the third inning put New Mexico ahead 4-0 and essentially broke open the game. He finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs.
UNLV brought a .311 average into the game, second to the Lobos, but didn’t get its first hit until the fourth inning when Joey Armstrong singled. New Mexico starter Sam Wolff allowed four hits and one run in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven.
“We hit three, four and maybe five balls early on right at guys,” Chambers said.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.