ALBUQUERQUE –The UTEP softball team (6-7) split day one of the Lobo Classic defeating Buffalo (3-3) in a 5-3 extra-inning victory Thursday night and fell to host New Mexico (7-3) 5-4 to open the tournament.
The Miners’ rally fell short against the Lobos in the first contest, but rebounded and scored three runs in the top eighth to down the Bulls in the night cap.
GAME 2 | UTEP 5, BUFFALO 3
The Bulls were first on the board off a Brianna Castro solo home run in the bottom of the second. After three scoreless innings, back-to-back RBI by UTEP’s Ajia Richard (single up the middle) and Pate Cathey (sac-fly) scored Lexi Morales and Jordyn Lopez, respectively, that gave the Miners a 2-1 lead in the top sixth. Buffalo tied the game, 2-2, in the home half with a Castro double to right center scoring Alexis Lucyshyn.
The Miners and Bulls held each other to no runs in the seventh forcing extra innings.
Richard paved the way for the Miners in the top of the eighth as the team scored three consecutive runs to take a 5-2 advantage. With Morales placed on second to start the inning, Karina Somoza advanced to first on a hit by pitch. Richard’s double to left field scored Morales making way for Somoza to see third.
Cathey followed with her second sacrifice fly that made way for Somoza to cross the dish. Kaylin Jackson added the final run for the Miners after she fouled out, scoring Richard. The Bulls had their shot to rally in the bottom of the eight but came up short with only one run scored on a Castro RBI single to center field.
Aalijah Alarcon (3-2) tossed her third complete-game victory after she hurled a career-high 8.0 frames on 138 pitches. Alarcon, after struggling her previous start last weekend, controlled the circle Thursday night as the freshman fanned a career-most eight Bulls, while only walking a pair.
Miner Quick Hits
- Ajia Richard: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI
- Lexi Morales: 2-for-4
- Ilena Santos: 1-for-3, 2B
Aalijah Alarcon: 8.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
Game 1 | NEW MEXICO 5, UTEP 4
UNM took a quick 4-0 lead after three innings. The Miners came out swinging in the top of the seventh and rallied to tie the game 4-4. Somoza and Jackson reached on fielder’s choice to get on base in the top of the seventh. With two outs, a Richard RBI single to third scored Somoza having home plate in Jackson’s sight.
Cathey shredded a single up the middle bringing home Aaliyah Rebolledo who pinch ran for Jackson. The Lobos had a pitching change, bringing in Emma Guindon to relieve Amber Linton. Guindon walked her first batter, UTEP’s Ashlynn Allen, to load up the bases. Marijn Crouwel belted a single through the right-side scoring Richard and Cathey to rally for the tie.
UTEP’s Isabella Kelly was penciled into the circle after the Lobos packed up the bases in the bottom of the seventh. UNM’s Reyan Tuck was unbothered by the changed as she flied out to right field which allowed Alexis Vigil to tag from third for the game-winning run.
Miner Quick Hits
- Marijn Crouwel: 2-for-4, 2 RBI
- Ajia Richard: 2-for-4, RBI
- Pate Cathey: 1-for-4, RBI
UTEP will start day two of the Lobo Classic (Friday, Feb. 25) against Tarleton State at 3 p.m. MT.