July 2, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On May 26, 2012, the University of New Mexico baseball team won its second straight Mountain West Tournament championship. The Lobos defeated San Diego State 22-3 as every UNM starter recorded multiple hits.
But nobody had the game that freshman Alex Real had.
Like most freshmen Real had to earn his playing time this season, and he had his share of first-year struggles, including striking out three times against Nevada in the season opener on Feb. 17.
But as the season went along, games like that became more and more rare and Real was finding plenty of success. He had a nine-game hitting streak from March 11-28. Against Texas Tech on April 17 he had his first career three-hit game, which also included his first career home run. He had back-to-back multi-hit, multi-RBI games against New Mexico State and Air Force on May 15 and 17.
However, nothing was like his performance against the Aztecs in the MW Tournament championship game.
In the first inning both Real and the Lobos got started. Real recorded a two-RBI double and scored a run as UNM opened an early 6-0 lead.
In the second, the Lobos tacked on four more runs, three of which scored on a deep home run to left off the bat of Real.
The Lobos added four more in the third, with Real chipping in with his third hit, a single, and his sixth RBI of the game.
Real led off the fifth inning with a walk and eventually came around to score to open a seven-run inning. He closed the scoring later in the inning with a sacrifice fly to right, his final at bat of the game.
He finished his career day with three hits in three official at bats, three runs, a double, a walk, and seven RBIs. His RBI total set a MW championship game record and tied the record for most by a freshman in any MW Tournament game. He was also the first Lobo to record seven RBIs in a game since Ryan Honeycutt did so against Coppin State on April 18, 2010.
Real’s performance was actually almost overlooked due to the overall success the Lobos had at the plate that night, the fact the Lobos were advancing to their third straight NCAA postseason appearance, and teammate Josh Melendez being named Tournament MVP honors.
Real’s night cannot be ignored, though. It proves the success hitters can have under head coach Ray Birmingham’s tutelage if they put in the effort and make the necessary adjustments.
Perhaps most of all, though, it showed that Real is for real and why he will likely play a major part in the Lobos’ 2013 season.