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NCAA baseball tournament, Lubbock regional: Sunday preview

New Mexico let a big win against Texas Tech slip away. Now, they'll need to beat Dallas Baptist once more to get another shot.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

#2 Dallas Baptist Patriots (42-18) vs. #3 New Mexico Lobos (39-22)

WHERE: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park; Lubbock, TX

WHEN: Sunday, June 5 -- 12:00 PM PT/1:00 PM MT


The Patriots survived their first elimination test by getting ahead of Fairfield early yesterday and hanging on late for a 8-5 victory, ending the Stags' postseason hopes. Darick Hall, for lack of a better term, took over on the mound and at the plate: He went 7.1 innings and struck out six, allowing three runs on seven hits and five walks, and also went 2-for-4 with a homer, scoring three times.

DBU will likely turn to freshman left-hander Jordan Martinson to take on the Lobos this afternoon, who had a fine season that was marred by some rough starts in May: He's made it out of the fifth inning just once since May 1, and sports a 6.88 ERA in that time. Martinson has thrown quality innings against quality foes before, though -- two shutout frames against TCU, four against these Lobos back in March -- how long he can keep UNM's attack at bay will be critical if DBU can grab an early lead, which they failed to do on Friday.

#1 Texas Tech Red Raiders (44-16) vs. winner of Dallas Baptist/New Mexico

WHERE: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park; Lubbock, TX

WHEN: Sunday, June 5 -- 4:00 PM PT/5:00 PM MT


If you watched Texas Tech's dramatic comeback Saturday night, you could understand why the Red Raiders were a national seed.

New Mexico starting pitcher Tyler Stevens had kept TTU's hot bats in check three times through the batting order, though some might question whether head coach Ray Birmingham was justified in allowing his starter to throw 132 pitches. The sophomore wasn't radically inconsistent: Stevens struck out seven and walked four, allowing three hits, as well. He had, however, thrown a lot of high-stress and high-leverage pitches in the later innings, stranding a runner in scoring position in both the sixth and the seventh.

Birmingham might receiving some second-guessing for not bringing in a fresh arm to begin that fateful eighth inning, and he might receive some for turning to Christian Tripp, who had already thrown 35 pitches against Dallas Baptist the day before. It's a decision that could haunt the Lobos if they don't recover against DBU.

If there's a bright side for the Lobos, it's that center fielder Luis Gonzalez might be the hottest hitter in the entire regional. He had another three hits yesterday, though the big bats in the middle have yet to maximize his contributions. Third baseman Carl Stajduhar, in particular, has really scuffled in the regional: 0-for-9, one walk, six strikeouts. If the sophomore can get going, UNM should be more than ready for a rematch with the regional hosts.

Those Red Raiders can punch their ticket to a super regional with another win this afternoon, and it might be that they'll host once more if things break their way out in Charlottesville. With a patient and potent lineup on their side, whichever team escapes elimination will have their hands full once again.