Freshman Chris Nunez picked an opportune time for his first collegiate hit.
Of course, he was just following along with his teammates as the New Mexico baseball team racked up 17 hits en route to a 12-7 victory over Texas Christian at Isotopes Park on Sunday afternoon.
UNM (10-11, 5-1 Mountain West) took two of three from TCU (12-9, 4-2) in the series to claim sole possession of first place in the conference.
“It’s a big series (win) for us,” Lobos coach Ray Birmingham said. “That’s TCU, that’s a big team. That’s what this program is growing to be.”
Nunez’s RBI double capped a four-run first inning, the Lobos’ biggest opening outburst of the season.
“It felt great, I’ve just been working hard in (batting practice), before the games and I finally got my chance to go out there and do it,” Nunez said. “It all paid off.”
D.J. Peterson had an RBI single and Ryan Padilla smacked a two-run single earlier in the first inning. UNM was only getting started as Peterson had an RBI double, Alex Real added a two-run single and Alex Allbritton picked up an RBI single in a four-run second inning that made it 8-1.
“It’s just a team effort, once we string a couple hits together it just goes on and on,” Nunez said. “We do feed off each other.”
Nunez later walked and scored on a passed ball in the fifth inning before adding a two-run single in the sixth. He is now hitting .182 (2-for-11) on the season and all three of his RBI were also the first of his college career.
“I don’t play every day so every chance I get I try to go out and do my best,” Nunez said.
Kyle Stiner went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, while D.J. Peterson and Ryan Padilla were both 3-for-5 with two RBI.
“It was huge. Everybody took their at-bats the right way,” Birmingham said.
Stiner said it was not as easy as the Lobos made it look.
“They’re a good team so I wouldn’t call any of it beating up because they can come right back, so it’s good to get an (early) lead because two or three runs isn’t a lot against them,” Stiner said.
Starter Rudy Jaramillo, despite being spotted the big early lead, scuffled through 4.2 innings. The senior lefty allowed four runs on five hits, two walks and hit three batters.
Alexis Garza (2-1) came in for Jaramillo and threw well for 2.1 innings before he ran out of gas in the eighth, allowing three straight hits that turned into TCU’s final three runs.
“He did very well, that’s his role and he takes it on very, very well,” Birmingham said. “The one thing we’re doing now is pumping strikes.”
Sunday’s win marked the Lobos’ first series victory over the Horned Frogs in Albuquerque; TCU had gone 17-4 in New Mexico entering this weekend.
Birmingham acknowledged that beating TCU early is important, but there is still a lot of season left to be played.
“There are 2,000 people a game in the stands, they believe in what we’re doing, we believe in what we’re doing and nobody’s panicking,” Birmingham said. “Good baseball is what we’re trying to do and the only door that’s truly an open door, the only one you can truly count on to get to the NCAA (Tournament) is the conference tournament door. You can win the regular season and not get to the NCAAs. We have to take it one game at a time and make everybody better and better.”
The Lobos will take a day off before starting a two-game, nonconference series with Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday at 6 p.m.