Harris Shines as Lobos Blow Out Aggies 17-7
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/02/2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Chase Harris went 4-for-5, drove in four runs and fell a home run shy of the cycle as UNM pounded New Mexico State 17-7 Wednesday night at Lobo Field. Aided by a nine-run fifth, the Lobos (20-10-1) swept the season series from the Aggies (10-18) by a combined score of 31-11.

"We don't like them and they don't like us," Harris said. "We blew them out twice so I think that shows who the better team is this year."

Aaron Siple also recorded four hits for the Lobos, who recorded 16 hits against 11 different Aggie pitchers. NMSU fell two pitchers shy of the NCAA record for relievers used in a game, set between Butler and Indiana-Southeastern on May 5, 1998.

Needing a home run in his final at bat to be the first Lobo to hit for the cycle since 2009, Harris had a golden opportunity with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh. He got a first pitch fast ball and he smashed it deep to left center.

However, on a night when the wind was blowing straight out most of the game, it shifted and was blowing left to right by the time Harris hit his towering fly. It got caught in the wind and died about 15 feet shy of the wall. Still, if not for a diving catch by the Aggies' left fielder, Harris might have had an inside-the-park home run because he was already at second when the ball was caught.

"The wind robbed Chase of the cycle tonight," UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said.

Despite going for a home run in that final swing, Harris didn't even realize he needed a home run for the cycle.

"I didn't even know until I got back into the outfield and Siple told me," he said with a laugh. "Hopefully I'll get another opportunity at a cycle in the future and come through."

Even though the wind knocked down Harris' shot, it definitely played a factor early on. NMSU's Derek Umphres launched a mammmoth two-run home run off the Rudy Davalos Center in left center field in the top of the first. The shot, which gave the Aggies an early 3-0 lead against the Lobos' starter, Preston Ryan, hit halfway up the side of the building, roughly 450 feet away from home plate.

Ryan settled in after the first, though, and had a career-long start of 4.1 innings. He also struck out a career-high four batters. He was charged with five runs, but he kept the Aggies off the scoreboard from the first until the fifth, which allowed UNM to get back into the game.

The Lobos scored one in the first and tied the game in the third on a two-run double from Harris. The Aggies, though, scored three in the fifth to chase Ryan and take a 6-3 lead.

The Lobos answered with their highest scoring inning of the year, though, to take the lead, which they would not relinquish the rest of the game. Thirteen Lobos came to the plate as they amazingly recorded just four hits in the inning. They also walked four times and Harris was hit by a pitch.

UNM added four more in the sixth to cruise to its second blowout of the Aggies in eight days. It was the Lobos' fifth game in six days, but their first at home in that span. The Lobos played Texas Tech in Midland, Texas, Tuesday night, and had an early morning flight back to Albuquerque Wednesday morning.

"This shows how resilient we can be," Siple said. "We have confidence that we can hit with anybody and that we can score with anybody. If they punch us we'll just punch right back.

"With the flight early today and then coming to the yard today, it was tought. But it was nice to get the win, especially against a rival like that."

Birmingham was pleased with his team's effort and performance, especially considering most players got only a couple hours sleep the night before.

"I don't think anybody on this team got more than two or three hours of sleep last night," he said. "I'm really proud of these guys, and I'm happy with a lot of these guys, including Chase Harris."

Harris, who also scored two runs, now leads the Mountain West with 51 hits. Outside of Harris and Siple, though, the only other Lobo with multiple hits was Lane Milligan, who went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and three runs score. Sam Haggerty also scored three times and went 1-for-3 with three free passes.

Kevin Baumgartner (2-1) allowed two runs in 1.2 innings to get the win. Jake Cole was perfect in 1.1 innings of relief, Conner Rusch made his second appearance of the season and struck out one in 1.0 perfect inning, and Mike Gould allowed a harmless single whil recording the final two outs for the Lobo bullpen.

The Lobos remain out of conference this weekend as they host Jacksonville State to Lobo Field for three games. The game times are scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Friday night is a Red Out, and the first 500 fans at Lobo Field will receive a free foam finger.

Notes: Leadoff man Danny Collier was the only starter not to record a hit, but he led off the game with a walk to reach base safely for the 22nd straight game, and he score two runs and drove in another ... Kirby McGuire had a pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh ... Ryan Padilla hit his seventh double of the season and drove in a pair ... Alex Real also had two RBIs ... the Lobo defense only recorded four assists in retiring 27 Aggies.