The UC Riverside Highlanders did their best Connor McLeod impression, mercilessly beheading the New Mexico Lobos 14-9 on Sunday afternoon.
UCR (9-7) split the four-game series with UNM (6-8), with the two teams combining for 86 runs as good pitching was almost nowhere to be found.
"We're still trying to figure it out right now," said senior Mitch Garver, who played first base, taking a day off from catching. "Early in the year it was the bullpen that's not so hot. Now it's the starting that's been not so hot.
"I think it boils down to walks. We walked six guys today, who knows he many we walked (Saturday). That's just free runners that we're giving up.
"I think our pitchers aren't panicking about it, though. We're always going to score runs. It's just a matter of our defense and pitching being able to do what they need to do."
Coach Ray Birmingham agreed.
"It's been hit or miss," he said. "You can't score 15 runs a game, you just can't. That just has to be something that will get cleaned up."
Senior Sam Wolff (1-2) just didn't have good command on Sunday despite his fastball reportedly hitting 98 mph on scouts' radar guns. The right-hander gave up nine runs — seven earned — on seven hits, four walks and two hit batters in 2.2 innings.
"It's his M.O., (not) throwing strikes," Birmingham said. "We only walked six but Sam walked four in 2.2 innings. Plus he got rocketed."
The Highlanders exploded for seven runs in a messy third inning that included two players being walked with the bases loaded. David Andriese's three-run double was the big hit of the frame for UCR.
Trailing 12-0, the Lobos showed a little fight late in the game. D.J. Peterson doubled to center to lead off the sixth and Garver followed with a double of his own to put UNM on the board.
The Lobos would add four runs in the seventh, with a costly error by UCR reliever Mark Garcia making all of those runs unearned, to pull within 12-5.
The Highlanders came right back with two runs in the eighth on Eddie Young's RBI triple and Joe Chavez's RBI double.
UNM made it a little interesting in the ninth. Pinch hitter Jared Meek was hit by a pitch and Peterson drove him with a triple that missed clearing the center field fence by mere inches.
Garver followed with an RBI single to right to make it 14-7. Luke Campbell then reached on an error by third baseman Cody Hough and Erik Suarez walked to load the bases.
UCR brought in closer Trevor Frank at that point. Matt Villalobos grounded into a forceout at second base, but it was enough to score Garver.
Logan Lippert hit a ball to right field that just landed in front of Andriese, who alertly threw to second base to force out Villalobos, who had lingered near first in case the ball would have been caught. Campbell did score to make it 14-9, but Frank struck out Jared Holley looking to end the game.
"It's definitely still early in the season," Garver said. "We don't have that feeling of panic at all. We know we're good. We were preseason ranked (No. 21) for a reason. We're just going to let it ride out."
The Lobos will hit the road for spring break, playing at Arizona State on Wednesday before opening Mountain West play at UNLV on Friday.