SAN JOSE, Calif. – The University of New Mexico baseball team swept a doubleheader with San Jose State Friday. The Lobos (29-11-1, 13-4) took game one 14-2 and game two 5-2 over the Spartans (12-27, 6-14). The top three hitters of UNM’s lineup – Sam Haggerty, Aaron Siple and Chase Harris – combined to go 14-for-27 with 10 runs and 12 RBIs over the two games.
“The top of the lineup was the difference-maker today,” UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. “Chase Harris was a big deal in the first game, and Aaron Siple was too. Siple was a big deal in game two, too. He scored a run late by running the bases with good reads and good jumps. And Sam Haggerty played great in the second game.”
Harris finished the day 5-for-8 with two runs and six RBIs, all of which came in game one’s blowout. Siple went 5-for-9 with four runs and five RBIs, while Haggerty was 4-for-10 with four runs, two walks, an RBI and a stolen base. UNM has now won seven straight games and moved three games up in the loss column on UNLV, which lost at Air Force Friday for the second straight day.
The Lobo bullpen continued its hot play, throwing six shutout innings over the two games. UNM improved to 25-0 when leading after six innings. Carson Schneider (2-0) got the win in game two by allowing just one base runner in 2.1 innings of relief.
“Once again our bullpen was a big deal,” Birmingham said. “We get to our bullpen and it’s pretty good. It was a total team effort today.”
UNM now owns its best record through 41 games since the 2009 team won 30 of its first 41 contests.
UNM scored 12 of its 14 runs with two outs to back a solid start by Colton Thomson to rout the Spartans. The Lobos pounded out a season-high 21 hits as Thomson (5-4) allowed only two unearned run on eight singles with six strikeouts in a career-long outing of 7.2 innings.
Harris fell a triple short of the cycle, driving in a career-high six runs as part of a 4-for-5 performance. Jack Zoellner also narrowly missed a cycle as he only needed a double. He also went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and hit his first career home run.
“I was just trying to do my job for the team,” Zoellner said, “and I ended up having a pretty good day.”
Alex Real also chipped in four hits for UNM and Siple added three.
Haggerty led off game one with an infield single to short. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third and scored the game’s first run on a bloop double by Real.
UNM added five unearned runs in the second to break the game open. Andre Vigil reached on an error by the shortstop and advanced to second on a single by Zoellner. Jared Holley sacrificed him them both up a base. With two outs Haggerty walked to load the bases. Siple’s single up the middle scored a pair, and Harris launched a three-run homer to left to give the Lobos a 6-0 lead.
Harris was the first Lobo to record six RBIs in a game since Mitch Garver did it against Air Force on May 5 last season.
UNM added four more in the third. Following a triple by Zoellner, Holley singled, Lane Milligan singled, Siple drove in a run with a double, and Harris drove in two more with a double to left center.
Zoellner’s home run came leading off the sixth. It was an opposite-field shot over the fence in left.
“(The pitch) was high and away and I just put a good swing on it,” the freshman first baseman said. “I actually didn’t think it went out. When I rounded first I thought it was a ground-rule double, but because the fence was 20 feet high I realized it was gone.”
The offense was more than enough to support one of Thomson’s best starts of the season. He allowed single unearned runs in the third and seventh innings while scattering eight singles and not walking a batter. He struck out six and lowered his ERA to 3.77.
“It makes my job a lot easier when the offense comes through like that,” he said. “I just sat back, relaxed and threw strikes.”
The junior certainly did that, throwing 77 of his 104 pitches for strikes. Taylor Duree came on and recorded one out and Conner Rusch pitched a scoreless ninth to finish off the Spartans.
UNM hit an astonishing .579 (11-for-19) with two outs. The only runs the Lobos scored with fewer than two down were Zoellner’s home run and one of UNM’s four runs in the third: Holley’s single up the middle to score Zoellner.
Just like game one, UNM jumped on the board in the first. Three straight singles by Haggerty, Siple and Harris loaded the bases, and Real’s sacrifice fly down the line in right allowed Haggerty to score. The Lobos then added a pair in the second on an RBI single from Haggerty and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Siple.
After that, though, SJSU’s starter, Jonathan Hernandez, settled in. He retired the Lobos in order in each of the next four innings. The Spartans used that to get back into the game. A single, double, another single and a safety squeeze scored a pair for SJSU and chased UNM’s starter, Jonathan Cuellar.
That’s where the score remained until the eighth when UNM broke through against reliever Myles Richard. Haggerty led off the frame with his third hit of the game, a single to right. The ball bounced passed SJSU’s right fielder, though, and Haggerty ended up at third. Siple followed with a single to center on an 0-2 pitch to add to UNM’s lead. Harris then sacrificed Siple to second and back-to-back wild pitches allowed Siple to score and increase the Lobos’ lead to 5-2.
Schneider, Jake Cole and Victor Sanchez were phenomenal in relief for the Lobos. Both Schneider and Cole allowed just one base runner apiece, but those were erased on the base paths, and Sanchez pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save. He has not allowed a single base runner in his last four appearances, all saves. The Lobos lowered their bullpen’s ERA to 3.18 in 158.2 innings this season.
Saturday UNM will try to do something no team has been able to do to the Spartans all season: sweep them. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. MT as Josh Walker looks to earn career win No. 25 and move into sole possession of second place on UNM’s all-time wins list.
Notes: May 5, 2013 against Air Force was also the last time UNM had 20 or more hits in a game … Real’s double in game one was his 17th of the season … Harris’ home run was his sixth of the season, four more than anyone else on the team … Lane Milligan went 3-for-9 out of the nine hole for UNM over the two games.