April 21, 2010
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Being from the Bay Area, the San Francisco Dons probably are used to earth-shaking experiences. They got one Wednesday night in Isotopes Park.
The New Mexico Lobos, who rolled over to Dons' pitching the night before, simply avalanched the San Fran hurlers.
The Dons probably thought an earthquake had hit Albuquerque with the epicenter the home plate in Isotopes Park. Well, at least it was the epicenter when a Lobo was standing over the dish eyeing the offerings coming off Dons' arms.
"That's the way Lobos are supposed to come back," said Lobo coach Ray Birmingham. "San Francisco has some pitching. Not many people score 19 runs on 'em. The Lobos can hit. When we play like that not too many teams can beat us. Now, we need to go do it again."
It simply was not a good night for the visitors from San Francisco. It was one of those nights a Dons' pitcher would toss something -- anything -- at the plate and then duck. Especially when Howard was standing with bat in hand.
The senior slammed two home runs and collected five RBIs in the beating of Dons. The Lobos' mound work was epic, too -- well, at least early. Sophomore Rudy Jaramillo pitched six shutout innings of three-hit ball as the Lobos pushed their record to 25-14. They will carry an 8-4 Mountain West Conference mark into a three-game series that begins Friday at Air Force.
"A win over San Francisco is nice," said Birmingham. "But now we are back in league and we have to go up to Air Force with serious intent."
Said Honeycutt: "Air Force has some guys who can play. They beat TCU. We have to come with our A game, especially up there."
Howard's five RBIs matched a career-high and mark the third time he has raked in five runs in his career. His two dingers mark his second multi-homer game of his career. The senior from Ennis, Texas, fell a triple shy of the cycle. He has hit in all but two of his 39 games this season.
The Lobos did something Wednesday vs. the Dons that always pleases their fiery coach. They got ahead early. The Lobos dented the scoreboard with three runs in the third, all courtesy a Honeycutt two-out blast to deep center.
The Lobos obviously took Honeycutt's example to heart and to the plate. That inning was the start to a four-inning hit fest thrown up by the Lobos on this breezy night in Albuquerque. The Lobos seemed to like that two-out rally thing, too.
UNM used six straight knocks with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning to produce five more runs. Allbritton started the rally with a double down the right field line. Daniel Gonzalez pushed him across with an RBI single. Gonzalez scored on a Howard single through the middle. Chris Juarez added another double down the right line and Honeycutt capped the scoring with a single to right.
The Lobos were cruising 8-0. It only got worse for the Dons.
The fifth inning was a nightmare for San Fran. The Don's probably were looking around Isotopes Parks to see if any buildings were crumbling to the ground as the Lobo earthquake continued to shake and bake.
The Lobos sent 13 batters to the box in the fifth and walked away with eight runs on nine hits. Mitchell Garver and John Michael Twichell opened the inning with back-to-back doubles with Twichell's blast scoring Garver.
After an Adam Courcha run-scoring single to center, Howard slammed a three-run shot over the right field fence to push UNM up 13-0. Garver and Twichell used their second hits of the inning to push across three more for a huge 16-0 Lobo lead.
But the quake wasn't over. UNM added three more runs in the sixth with back-to-back shots from Courcha and Howard plus a run-scoring error by the Dons to make it 19-0.
Jaramillo seems to like throwing stuff at batters from California. The sophomore (2-1) held the Dons to just three hits, sitting down the final 10 batters he faced. Four of his six innings went 1-2-3 as Jaramillo recorded his best outing since eight innings at Southern Cal on March 5.
"Everything was working pretty well," said Jaramillo. "I got my change-up back. It was good to pitch with some confidence."
The Lobo bullpen faltered a bit down the stretch, but had plenty of insurance runs to lean on. The Dons didn`t give up and scored four runs over the final three innings to avoid the shutout.
UNM returns to conference play this weekend, traveling to Colorado Springs for a three-game set against Air Force. The series-opener this Friday begins at 2 p.m. MT.