ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - For three days in Las Vegas, Nev., late last month the University of New Mexico offense was stymied. It was held to just 23 hits in 100 at bats for an easy-to-calculate average of .230. That's a far cry from what the Lobos usually churn out, which is typically eight or nine more hits in the same number of chances.
But after four games this past weekend, it appears that was just a bump in the road against a hot team and not a worrisome long-term trend. In three games against the San Diego State Aztecs and one against the Utah Valley Wolverines, UNM pounded out 11, 13, 16 and 16 hits for a .386 average (56-for-145).
That bumped the Lobos up right back where they belong: among the best offenses in the nation.
Following Monday's game against Utah Valley, the Lobos rank fourth in the nation with a .318 batting average, tied with Baseball America's No. 3 team, Louisana-Lafayette. They lead the NCAA with 573 hits, rank 10th in runs with 337, and are in the top 20 in on-base percentage at .387. Their 6.7 runs per game average is also in the top 25, their 18 triples are in the top 15, their .410 slugging and 89 doubles are both in the top 40. Earlier this season they recorded at least 10 hits in 10 straight games -- the longest such streak in the nation this year.
If the Lobos continue to hit this well, it will be the fifth time in the last six years under head coach Ray Birmingham that they will finish in the top 10 nationally in hitting.
Given their rankings on a national level, it's no surprise UNM leads the Mountain West in eight categories: batting, OBP, runs, hits, RBIs, triples, total bases and walks. Additionally, the Lobos have the lowest strikeout rate in the conference (only 14.2 percent of at bats) and lead the conference in scoring.
While the Lobos' success is truly based on a lineup that runs nine deep -- all eight qualifiers in UNM's lineup are hitting .306 or better and Jack Zoellner, who is on the cusp of qualifying, is hitting .317 -- several individual performances are noteworthy.
Junior catcher Alex Real is currently tied for the national lead in doubles with 23 after hitting two in each of the last two games. Chase Harris is tied for fourth with 58 RBIs and is sixth in hits with 79, while Sam Haggerty is 12th in the nation in runs scored. Haggerty and Real are also both in the top 50 in hits with 70 and 67, respectively, while Harris is in the top 20 in total bases (109) and triples (5).
Freshman Danny Collier, meanwhile, is second on the team, and third in the conference, with a .365 batting average, which ranks fourth in the nation among all freshmen and second among freshmen outfielders. Fellow freshman Andre Vigil is hitting .322 with 29 RBIs, partially thanks to his approach with the bases loaded that has allowed him to go 5-for-5 in such situations this season.