Birmingham Wins 1,000th Career Game as Lobos Rout Air Force

April 6, 2013

Box Score

Complete Box: Lobos 19, Air Force 5 Get Acrobat Reader

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – With a chance at history on the line for UNM head coach Ray Birmingham, senior outfielder Luke Campbell and his teammates came through in a big way.

The Lobos (16-14, 8-3) defeated Air Force (8-21, 2-7) by a score of 19-5 Saturday afternoon to give Birmingham his 1,000th career victory.

“I’m proud that all of them were in the great state of New Mexico, my state,” said Birmingham, who is a native of Hobbs, N.M. “I would like to thank all the young men that have played for me and all the bosses that put up with me.

“Thank you to my wife and sons who have had to be at the baseball field for the last five decades. I appreciate all those who have helped me build programs in the great state of New Mexico.”

Birmingham began his collegiate coaching career at the College of the Southwest in Lovington, N.M., back in 1988. He won 53 games in two years before taking over the new program at New Mexico Junior College, which he helped build into a national power over the next 18 years. He went 765-255-2 with the Thunderbirds and won the 2005 NJCAA National Championship.

Prior to the 2008 season he took over at UNM and has produced some of the best Lobo teams of all-time. He has led the Lobos to three straight NCAA regionals after UNM hadn’t been to one in 48 years. In 2012 he was named Mountain West Coach of the Year after leading the Lobos to both the MW regular-season and tournament championships.

Campbell, who finished 4-5 with a grand slam, three runs and six RBI to pace the Lobo offense, said he was proud to be a part of his coach’s historic win.

“Obviously we know that Coach B has been coaching a long time and has coached plenty of great players,” he said. “It’s an honor to get that 1,000th win for him.”

Campbell had plenty of help Saturday as every Lobo who played helped Birmingham reach his milestone victory. Each of the nine starters recorded at least one hit, eight scored at least one run, and seven drove in at least one run as the Lobos once again pounded Falcon pitching. Even Logan Lippert, who entered for Campbell in the bottom of the eighth, drove in two runs with a double in the ninth as UNM notched a season-high for runs.

UNM scored once in the top of the first, but Air Force countered for two in the bottom of the inning of Lobo starter Sam Wolff (2-3). The righty settled in after that, however, and allowed only one more run over the next five innings while striking out seven. Alex Estrella pitched the final three innings to earn his first career save. He struck out one.

The Lobo offense, meanwhile, went to work as they scored 18 of the next 19 runs in the game. They scored four in the third, six in the fifth, four in the eighth on Campbell’s grand slam, and four more in the ninth.

In the third Chase Harris led off and reached on an error. Sam Haggerty followed with a walk.  One batter later Mitch Garver singled to knock home Harris and move Haggerty to second.

With two outs Luke Campbell singled to left to score Haggerty. Josh Melendez then followed with a two-RBI double to give UNM a 5-2 lead.

The Lobos broke the game open in their six-run fifth as they batted around courtesy of five hits and a walk. Campbell, Melendez, Allbritton, Harris and DJ Peterson all recorded an RBI that inning.

Six Lobos scored multiple runs in the contest with Garver leading the way with four, and five Lobos had multiple RBI led by Campbell’s six.

 “It was definitely a confidence-builder for me,” Campbell said about his day at the plate. “I’ve been struggling lately so I was just trying to simplify the game and get back to what I can do. It was a good game for me to get back out there and take advantage of the opportunity.”

The Lobos have now won all four Mountain West series so far this season and remain in first place in the conference. They will look for their first sweep of the season Sunday at noon when junior A.J. Carman will make his eighth start of the season on the mound for UNM.

Notes: Birmingham is now 21-1 in his career against Air Force … Harris and Real joined Campbell with three runs scored … Melendez and Garver each had three RBI … Peterson went 3-for-5 for the second straight day … the Lobos scored in double figures for the 21st time in their last 28 games against the Falcons … UNM’s 20 hits tied its season-high set back on March 6 against LaSalle.