March 5, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico baseball team enjoyed its biggest win of the season Tuesday night, pulling off a 16-3 victory over the LaSalle Explorers. The Lobos (3-6) knocked out 16 hits, walked four times, and recorded a bruising six hit by pitches.
The win ended a four-game losing streak for the Lobos and sent the Explorers (2-6) to their third straight defeat.
"It's good to get back out there," senior outfielder Luke Campbell said. "It's good to get back home and get things going."
Campbell, who went 2-for-3 with three runs, a triple and his first home run since May 6, 2011, was one of many offensive stars for UNM. Josh Melendez, DJ Peterson, and Mitch Garver all recorded three hits as every Lobo starter reached base.
One of the most striking stats, however, was the number of times the Lobos were hit by pitches. Freshman second baseman Jared Holley, the smallest player on the team at 5'6, was hit three times.
"The little guy will wear it like a champ," Campbell said with a smile.
Sophomore lefty Alex Estrella made his first career start for UNM and threw 3 2/3 innings. He gave up three runs, two of which were earned, on five hits and three walks. He also struck out three.
His only real trouble came in the first inning. LaSalle loaded the bases on three straight seeing-eye singles and looked to be on its way to a big inning. Estrella settled in, though, and induced a 1-2-3 double play. With a chance to get out of the inning, though, he gave up a two-run triple to put the Lobos in an early hole.
They wouldn't stay down for long.
UNM scored two in the second and three in the third to take a lead they would not relinquish.
The big hit came in the fourth. Pinch hitter John Pustay laced a two-run, two-out single up the middle with the bases loaded to give the Lobos their first lead at 4-3. UNM later added two in the fourth, four in the sixth, and five more in the eighth to blow the game open.
The Lobo bullpen made sure the Explorers stayed off the board for the final six innings. Josh Walker (1-0) got the win by pitching three scoreless innings of relief. He struck out five and walked none. Gabe Aguilar added an inning and a third of scoreless ball and freshman Taylor Duree pitched a perfect ninth as the UNM staff combined for 10 strikeouts.
Despite the win, however, UNM head coach Ray Birmingham was not entirely pleased. The Lobos committed four errors, three in one inning by first baseman Alex Real, and had another blunder on the base paths.
"It's just disheartening," he said. "Can we go a game without a defensive error? Coach (Ken) Jacome, he's a defensive coach, and if he had any hair he'd pull it out."
Still, it was easy to find positives in the Lobos' most dominating performance of the season.
"It feels really good," Walker said. "(The season's) a work and process and we're slowly getting there. Today was a good step forward, especially with the win. The offense was great as usual. The pitching was good."
The two teams meet again Wednesday night at 6 at Isotopes Park. Junior Jonathan Cuellar will make his first career start for the Lobos and the game will be broadcast live by 101.7 The Team.
Notes: Walker retired eight straight between the fourth and seventh innings ... Garver now has 204 career hits, moving him closer to the record for UNM catchers held by Rafael Neda with 233 ... Peterson, Garver, Sam Haggerty, and Chase Harris all scored two runs.