USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Freshmen Danny Collier, Andre Vigil and Jack Zoellner combined to go 7-for-14 with eight RBIs and five runs scored to help the Lobos (18-8-1, 7-3) defeat Air Force (4-20, 1-9) 13-8 Friday afternoon.
The Lobos pounded out 17 hits to record their 10th straight game with at least 10 hits. Vigil set a career high with four hits, while John Pustay added three to back starter Jonathan Cuellar (3-1). Chase Harris also had a multi-hit game, his fourth straight and fifth in his last sixth contests.
"My first at bat I could barely see," Vigil said. "The view from the pitcher to the outfield was terrible, but I just stayed relaxed and did what I needed to do at the plate."
The Lobos struck for a pair of unearned runs in the second to take an early 2-0 lead. Alex Real led off and reached on an error by Air Force's shortstop. Pustay followed with a single to left to put two men on. Jered Meek was next and he smashed one off the Falcons' starting pitcher, Cameron White. White recovered in time, though, to grab the ball and throw Meek out at first as both runners advanced into scoring position.
Vigil lined a 1-2 pitch to left to score Real and move Pustay to third, and Zoellner worked a nine-pitch at bat before knocking Pustay in with a groundout to second.
The Falcons immediately countered with four runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, though, with the help of three Lobo errors, to take a 4-2 lead.
Head coach Ray Birmingham was pleased with the win but disappointed with his team’s effort.
“We’re trying to win the Mountain West, but we’re taking pitches and plays off,” he said. “You can’t do that in this league. We gave them runs today.”
UNM re-took the lead for good in the fourth as they batted around and put up a five-spot. Meek got the rally started with a one-out single to left. Vigil then hit a ball about 28 feet up the 30-foot wall in right for a double that sent Meek to third. Zoellner then singled through the hole between first and second to score both runners and tie the game. Aaron Siple followed with a bouncing ball just over the first baseman's head for a double that put two men in scoring position.
Leadoff man Collier then smoked a ball just past the outstretched glove of the Faclons' second baseman. The ball rolled all the way to the wall for a two-run triple. Sam Haggerty followed with a sacrifice fly to center to knock in Collier and give the Lobos a 7-4 lead.
Cuellar allowed five runs, three earned, in a career-high 6.0 innings. He gave up nine hits, eight of which were singles, but did not walk a batter while striking out four. He threw 55 of his 80 pitches for strikes, and outside of the second inning he kept the Falcons quiet.
After Air Force crept within two on a run in the fifth, the Lobos broke the game open with five in the seventh on triples by Harris and Pustay, and RBIs from Real, Vigil, Collier and Sam Haggerty.
“A couple guys played well today,” Birmingham said. “Andre Vigil was one of them, John Pustay was one of them, and Danny Collier was one of them.”
UNM's final run came on a solo home run by Haggerty in the ninth.
"Everybody is battling," Vigil said. "Everybody did their job. We're all doing what we need to do. Extra base hits happened and it was just an awesome day by the hitters."
The team's will meet again Saturday afternoon at 1. Junior lefty Colton Thomson will start on the mound for the Lobos, and fans can watch the stream live at www.golobos.com.
Notes: Haggerty extended his hitting streak to 13 games, longest on the team this season ... Haggerty's home run was the second of his career ... Vigil upped his average to .354 on the season.