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Lobos wallop Aggies to sweep season series

Senior Chase Harris fell just a home run shy of the cycle as the Lobos routed the Aggies.
Senior Chase Harris fell just a home run shy of the cycle as the Lobos routed the Aggies.Courtesy of UNM

It was far from pretty Wednesday night, but the host New Mexico baseball team will take a win over New Mexico State any day.

The Lobos (20-10-1) rolled to a 17-7 victory over the error-prone Aggies (10-18), taking both games from their in-state rivals this season after winning 14-4 in Las Cruces on March 25.

"We hate New Mexico State and they hate us," said senior right fielder Chase Harris. "So you definitely want to take it from them. You've got the rivalry there. It's good to not even let them think they had a chance against us. We blew them out both times. I think they know who the better team is this year. That's nice to know."

Harris paced the UNM lineup, going 4-for-5 with four RBI. He fell just a home run shy of the cycle, blasting a shot to left field in the seventh inning that ended up being knocked down by the wind for an out.

"I knew I got all of it, but I was just under it, so I knew it was really high," Harris said with a smile. "I don't know, I thought the wind might take it a little bit or something. But from what I'm hearing, the wind hurt me, actually.

"I didn't even realize it until I got out into the outfield, then I was like, 'Oh, I almost hit for the cycle.' It's OK. Hopefully I'll get another (chance) that I'll get the wind helping me and take care of it."

Freshman starter Preston Ryan gave up three runs in the first inning, two on a monster, wind-aided home run by NMSU's Derek Umphres that hit off the UNM basketball practice facility behind the baseball field.

"With the conditions, it seemed like anybody was going to be able to hit a home run today," Harris said. "(But) everybody stayed calm, no one pressed or anything."

From there, Ryan settled down until running into some trouble in the fifth when he was finally pulled. All told, he allowed five runs on four hits and two walks in 4.1 innings, striking out four.

"I thought Preston Ryan's getting better," "He was 87 to 90 (mph). He was throwing more strikes, he didn't walk as many as he did (in the past)."

The Lobos trailed 3-1 after the first inning and 6-3 going into their half of the fifth. Then they racked up nine runs, though Aggie miscues resulted in many of those runs.

"It was kind of screwy," Harris said. "They helped us out a little bit with a bunch of errors and everything. We were able to capitalize on them, which it seems like we hadn't been doing all the time. I could be wrong, but it doesn't feel like we necessarily have."

Junior center fielder Aaron Siple went 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI.

"Today I got kind of lucky, it was my day, I guess," Siple said. "I had three infield singles or something like that. When it's going my way, it's a good feeling."

The Aggies used 11 total pitchers, with their mark of 10 relievers in a game tying for fourth place on the NCAA all-time list. They came close to the record of 12 set by Butler against Indiana-Southeast in 1998.

"We threw a lot of puppies and they threw everybody," Birmingham said.

The Lobos rebounded from a 6-3 loss to Texas Tech in Midland, Texas, on Tuesday. Birmingham said the players and coaches did not reach the hotel until midnight and were in bed by 1 a.m., albeit with a wake-up call of 3 a.m. to catch their flight home.

"Nobody on this team had more than two our three hours of sleep," Birmingham said. "We got in before nine. They hauled their butts to class. Everybody went to class and then came over for the baseball game."

All of the Lobos plan to be well-rested by Friday, when they open a three-game series at 6 p.m. against Jacksonville State.