After five mostly forgettable games on the road, the New Mexico baseball team enjoyed all the comforts of home Tuesday night.
UNM overpowered visiting La Salle 16-3 at Isotopes Park, snapping a four-game losing streak.
"This is huge for us right now, just getting back in town," said left fielder Luke Campbell, who went 2-for-3 with two RBI. "Obviously we needed some confidence to get things rolling in the right direction. A game like this can really get this rolling in the right direction."
Though it was a victory, coach Ray Birmingham was not happy with the Lobos' defensive shortcomings. UNM made four errors, including three by first baseman Alex Real in the third inning. That gives them 23 errors in nine games this season.
"It's just disheartening," Birmingham said. "If we go a game without a defensive error ... Coach (Ken) Jacome is a defensive coach and if he had any hair he'd pull it out.
"The bottom line here is really defense. We haven't had any trouble. We've led the league in defensive play since I've been here. We've been the best fielding team in the Mountain West since I've been here.
"Now I'm watching high school stuff. Just simple stuff, easy stuff. So it's been frustrating. It's not just one guy."
The Lobos (3-6) trailed 2-0 and 3-2 early, but ultimately shook off the Explorers (2-6) in the third inning.
D.J. Peterson and Mitchell Garver hit back-to-back, one-out singles. After Campbell grounded out, Chase Harris was hit by a pitch. John Pustay then hit one up the middle that second baseman Collin McGowan knocked down but could not corral, enabling two runs to score.
Pustay was then picked off, but Harris managed to score from third before Pustay was tagged out in a rundown, pushing UNM's lead to 5-3.
Peterson and Garver had back-to-back RBI singles in the fourth. Sam Haggerty and Peterson had consecutive RBI doubles in the sixth and Campbell followed with a two-run homer — his first since May 6, 2011 versus Air Force — to make it 11-3.
"It felt good," Campbell said. "It's good to get back out there. It's just good to get back home and get things going."
The Lobos poured it on in the eighth, adding five runs. Freshman Matt Villalobos was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in a run in his first collegiate plate appearance. Freshman Jared Holley was then hit by a pitch for the third time in the game, also forcing in a run.
After a wild pitch brought the third run across, Alex Allbritton flew out, but Josh Melendez followed with a two-run double to center.
"He's a little guy, he wore it like a champ," Campbell said of Holley's propensity for getting hit by pitches.
Sophomore Alex Estrella pitched better than his stats would indicate in his first career start. He gave up three runs — two earned — on five hits and three walks while striking out three batters in 3.2 innings.
Junior Josh Walker came on and settled things down, scattering four hits over three scoreless frames while striking out five.
"(Estrella) did a great job for us, got out of some tough innings in the first two," Walker said. "When I came in I know my job, go in, throw strikes, hit the catcher's mitt just like any other pitcher."
The Lobos and Explorers will square off again Wednesday at 6 p.m.