ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Campbell has HR, triple for UNM
It hardly qualified as a cure-all, but the UNM baseball team got what it needed most Tuesday night – a win.
Luke Campbell tripled and homered to highlight a 16-hit attack as the Lobos clobbered La Salle 16-3 at Isotopes Park. D.J. Peterson, Josh Melendez and Mitch Garver collected three hits apiece for New Mexico, which enjoyed its first truly easy win of 2013.
La Salle at New Mexico, 6 p.m., Isotopes Park, 101.7 FM
Easy but not always pretty.
Lobo first basemen committed four errors in the game, while Explorer pitchers plunked six batters. UNM second baseman Jared Holley was hit three times.
“It wasn’t a well-played ballgame,” Lobo coach Ray Birmingham said. “We can hit and it was nice being back in a ballpark that’s a little more conducive to hitting. But the bottom line is defense and ours hasn’t been good. That’s a little disheartening.”
Even so, the win provided a boost to the Lobos (3-6), who came into the game having lost four straight during a five-game road swing.
“This is huge for us right now,” Campbell said. “We needed to get back in town and get that rock rolling in the right direction again. It’s a start.”
It took UNM’s momentum a while to change Tuesday. La Salle parlayed three ground-ball singles and Justin Korenblatt’s two-out triple into a 2-0, first-inning lead against Lobo starter Alex Estrella.
“Those singles were like 45-hop ground balls,” Birmingham said. “I was thinking, ‘Man, we need to do something to get the baseball gods back on our side.'”
Things started to turn New Mexico’s way in the second.
Campbell led off with a triple to right and scored on Chase Harris’ single. Harris later came home on a groundout to tie the score at 2.
The Explorers (2-6) took advantage of a rough inning by Lobo first baseman Alex Real to regain the lead in the third. Real committed three errors – two fielding and one throwing – to set up an unearned run.
But from that point on, it was all New Mexico.
John Pustay’s two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the third gave the Lobos the lead for good. Peterson and Garver had RBI singles in the fourth as the margin grew to 7-3.
Estrella, making his first Lobo start, pitched effectively after the first inning but did not work long enough to earn the win. That went to Josh Walker (1-0), who struck out five in three scoreless innings.
“We’re a work in progress,” Walker said, “but today was a good step. The offense was great and the pitching was good.”
New Mexico effectively blew the game open with a four-run sixth. Peterson’s RBI double and Campbell’s two-run homer to left helped build the Lobos’ lead to 11-3.
Things got completely out of hand in the eighth, when La Salle relievers hit three batters, two with the bases loaded. Last to be plunked was the 5-foot-5 Holley, who has now been hit four times this season.
“I think it’s a national conspiracy against short people,” Birmingham joked, but then added. “I was saying in the dugout we set two school records today: one guy getting hit three times and one guy making three errors in an inning. Unfortunately, one of those records isn’t good.”
The two-game series concludes today with a 6 p.m. contest.
— This article appeared on page D2 of the Albuquerque Journal