March 20, 2009
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -
Northwestern carried a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning, but another late-inning rally by the opposition helped New Mexico top the Wildcats 11-6 Friday evening at Isotopes Park. Junior catcher Chad Noble led NU with three hits and three runs batted in.
The Wildcats (4-11) surged out to a 4-0 lead by tallying four times in the top of the second inning. The first three Northwestern batters all reached against starter John Hesketh before Noble brought everyone home with a three-run double to right. Trevor Stevens would later contribute a two-out, run-scoring double to give NU an early four-run cushion.
The Lobos (19-3) entered the game with an impressive team batting average of .399, but NU starter David Jensen held New Mexico scoreless through the first three frames, surrendering only one hit.
However, the hosts were able to chip away at the Wildcats' advantage, scoring once in the fourth, tallying a pair of unearned runs in the fifth and pushing across one more in the sixth to tie the game.
Northwestern answered right back in the top of the seventh as Tommy Finn got aboard with a one-out hit and Jake Goebbert brought him home with his second homer of the season to give the 'Cats a 6-4 advantage.
Hesketh, who entered the contest with a 3-0 record, a 1.05 ERA and a .198 opponents' batting average, was touched for six earned runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings of work.
Reliever Francis Brooke worked around three New Mexico hits in the bottom of the seventh to allow NU to maintain its lead. But the Wildcats wouldn't be as fortunate in the eighth. A leadoff homer and a double led Northwestern to turn to Brian Morgan. A bunt single put runners on the corners with no one out and a sacrifice fly tied the game before Noble gunned down Adam Courcha attempting to steal for the second out. Unfortunately, the Wildcats were unable to get the elusive third out of the inning as five straight hits, including a two-run triple and a two-run homer, allowed New Mexico to take a five-run advantage.
The Wildcats would go down in order in the top of the ninth.
Northwestern's foes have rallied from behind to take the lead in their final at-bat in four of the Wildcats' last six defeats.
The teams continue their four-game series with a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. CT Saturday.