April 5, 2013
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Welcome back, DJ Peterson.
After missing the previous four games due to a hamstring injury, the Lobos' All-America first baseman returned to action Friday afternoon against Air Force with a monster game. He walked, singled, doubled, homered and drove in five runs as the Lobos (15-14, 7-3) defeated the Falcons (8-20, 2-5) 11-5.
Birmingham won 765 games during his 18 years at the head of New Mexico Junior College, 53 in two years at the College of the Southwest, and now 181in roughly five and a half years leading the Lobos. His 166 wins in his first five seasons at UNM are more than any other coach recorded during their first five years at the helm of the program.
The Lobos, who remain in first place in the Mountain West with the victory, opened the scoring with an unearned run in the first, but they broke the game open with a six-run second.
With one out Ryan Padilla hit his second home run of the season to right on the first pitch he saw. Back-to-back-to-back doubles by Josh Melendez, Alex Allbritton, and Jared Holley increased the lead to 4-0.
One batter later Sam Haggerty reached on an infield single to put two men on for Peterson who hammered a 1-1 pitch over the left-center field fence for his 12th home run of the season.
The Falcons countered with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to cut the Lobos' lead to 7-3 and chase UNM's starter Kevin Baumgartner. McClain came in, though, and allowed only one run on three hits and a walk over the next 3 2/3 innings, which matched the longest outing of his career.
He struck out five and appears to be finally reclaiming his form from last season that saw him named to the Stopper of the Year watch list before this season. He has allowed only two runs over his last nine innings
Will Mathis added a scoreless inning and Walker allowed one run in his three innings as the UNM bullpen allowed only two runs on eight hits in 7 2/3 innings.
The Lobos added one more run in the third on Alex Real's fourth home run in the season, two in the sixth on Peterson's two-RBI single, and one more in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Real.
Real finished the game 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI as he continues to rake in Mountain West play. He is now hitting .474 (18-for-38) with five doubles and two home runs against conference pitching.
Chase Harris, Holley and Haggerty all scored two runs, and Melendez joined Real and Peterson as the only Lobos with a multi-hit game.
The Lobos will try to get Birmingham his 1,000th win Saturday at 1 p.m. A.J. Carman will make his eighth start of the season for UNM.
Notes: The Lobos scored in double figures for the 20th time in their last 27 games against the Falcons ... Birmingham is now 20-1 in his career against Air Force ... McClain also went 3 2/3 last May 15 against New Mexico St. ... Holley was hit by two pitches and now has been plunked 11 times this season to lead the MW ... no one else on the Lobos has been hit by more than four pitches ... Walker's five saves is tied for the second most by a Lobo in the last 12 years and matches last year's team-high set by Bobby Mares.