New Mexico won the regular-season championship in the Mountain West Conference by daylight, seven games ahead of UNLV. They crushed the ball all season, scoring an average of 9.3 runs in its 30 league games. So when Josh Walker gave up a two-run home run to Nevada designated hitter Hugo Hernandez in the first inning of their opening game in the conference tournament, he didn’t fret at all.
The Lobos’ starter settled in, kept firing his fastball for strikes, and the offense took care of the Wolf Pack in a 7-3 victory on Thursday at Beiden Field.
With the win, New Mexico (38-18) advanced to a 7 p.m. match up against UNLV on Friday, one win closer to what would be its third consecutive MW tournament title.
The top-seeded Lobos scored six quick runs against Nevada starter Tyler Wells, getting a two-run double from Mitch Garver in the first inning, a two-run homer from Sam Haggerty in the second and a two-run homer by Luke Campbell in the third.
DJ Peterson, with Garver a co-player of the year in the conference for a second year in a row, put the Lobos’ seventh run on the board with a towering home run to left in the seventh, his 17th this season.
That was plenty for Walker.
The junior right-hander, who threw a three-hit shutout to beat Fresno State on May 10 the last time he was on the mound at Beiden Field, allowed only five hits and one run after the first, improving to 11-0 this season.
He left the game with two outs in the ninth, after Brad Gerig reached on a fielding error by shortstop Jared Holley and Lance Berringer drew a two-out walk.
Gabe Aguilar came on to get the final out, retiring Brett Jones on a fly ball to left and drop Nevada (24-31) into an elimination game on Friday at 11 a.m. against Fresno State.
Walker on his outing …