ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. –The University of New Mexico baseball team swept a doubleheader from Northern Colorado Sunday at Lobo Field by scores of 12-3 and 8-1, completing a dominating four-game sweep in which the Lobos (8-3-1) outscored the Bears (2-10) by a combined score of 42-7. Over the course of the weekend the Lobos lowered their team ERA to 3.37 and raised their team batting average to .328.
“I’m really happy with our pitching,” UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. “Drew Bridges pitched well (Friday night). Josh Walker pitched well (Sunday). Colton Thomson wasn’t as good as he can be but he was good.”
Jared Holley, Alex Real, Chase Harris and Same Haggerty each finished the game with four hits, and Holley now leads the team with a .432 batting average.
“I owe it all to Coach (Birmingham),” he said. “He’s a hitting guru and is the reason I’m swinging a good bat right now.”
The Lobos put game one out of reach with a six-run eighth, and Josh Walker dominated the Bears in game two en route to his second straight win.
“I attacked low in the zone,” he said. “I followed the gameplan and trusted the defense.”
Much like his complete-game shutout against Missouri State on Feb. 23, Walker was superb in keeping the ball down and the UNC lineup off balance.
He did not allow a run until the eighth inning as he ran his personal shutout streak to 16.2 innings before the Bears touched him for a run following a bloop double, a single, and a sacrifice fly.
Always a master of control, Walker has stepped it up a notch in his senior season. He has hurled 21.0 innings thus far and not issued a single walk.
While Walker was shutting down the Bears, the Lobo lineup chipped away and methodically put UNC into a deeper hole. UNM scored two in the third, three in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth.
Six players finished with two hits, and Harris led the team with three. Real finished with three RBIs.
In game one the Lobos jumped out to a 6-0 lead after five innings as junior lefty Colton Thomson worked out of a couple jams on the mound. After a spotless 1-2-3 first, Thomson found himself in trouble in each of the next four innings.
He escaped a two-on, none-out situation in both the second and third, worked around an infield single in the fourth, before working around a pair of walks in the fifth to keep the Bears off the scoreboard. UNC finally got to him in the sixth, though, on a triple and a sacrifice fly.
Thomson allowed with just the solitary run allowed in 5.1 innings on four hits and four walks while striking out a career high seven.
The Bears added two more in the seventh off reliever A.J. Carman to make the game interesting, but UNM put it out of reach with its eighth-inning scoring surge. Lane Milligan and Aaron Siple got the rally started with a pair of walks. After a wild pitch, both runners scored on a single by Holley, who was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
Haggerty reignited the inning with a single and stolen base in front of a walk by Jered Meek. With two outs John Pustay singled home Haggerty. Real then doubled in Meek for UNM’s fourth run of the inning. Jack Zoellner then singled past UNC’s diving first baseman to score both runners to complete the scoring.
Lefty Kevin Baumgartner pitched the final 2.2 innings for UNM and did not allow a run on three hits. He struck out four.
Haggerty, Real, Milligan and Holley each recorded two hits in the first game, and Holley led the team with three RBIs. Meek led the squad with three runs scored.
The Lobo pitching staff seems to have found a nice groove as UNM enters conference play next weekend vs. UNLV. Over the last nine games, the Lobos have allowed just 17 runs. For the season opponents are hitting just .219 off the staff.
“We all want to win,” Walker said. “That’s the important thing. We have a winning mentality. We all want to go out there, pitch well and get the W.”
Before Mountain West play starts, though, the Lobos travel to Texas Tech for a game Tuesday afternoon at 1.
Notes: Danny Collier out of Sandia HS in Albuquerque started the first two games of his career and finished 3-for-5 with two walks … Real recorded the first triple of his career in game two … 622 fans came out for the doubleheader on a cold and windy day … Jack Zoellner started both games at first base and finished 3-for-8 with three RBIs.