Chris DeVito was one of the few New Mexico Lobos who did not have a good opening series in Hawaii. He made up for it Friday night.
The junior designated hitter went 5-for-5 with a grand slam and seven total RBI as UNM rolled to a 17-7 victory over Wichita State. It was a statement win in the Lobos’ home opener.
“It wasn’t just me, man,” DeVito said. “It was the whole team. We put up 17 runs. … We put up some good hits, we had a good team win today.”
UNM (4-1) racked up 17 hits but also benefited from 12 walks. Through five games, the Lobos have 50 walks.
“Coach (Ray Birmingham) preaches a lot about plate discipline,” DeVito said. “We work really hard on plate discipline.”
DeVito went 3-for-13 with a double, three runs and no RBI as UNM took three of four in Honolulu last weekend. He wasted little time in erasing that slow start to the season on Friday.
“I was kind of struggling in Hawaii,” DeVito said. “So I tried to just focus a little more, the team needs everyone, so I was trying to do more for the team.”
The junior singled in his first at-bat in the second inning and later came around to score on Dalton Bowers’ RBI single. DeVito followed with a ground-rule RBI double and later scored again in the third.
All told, the Lobos led 6-1 after three innings, chasing Shockers starter Sam Tewes (1-1). The draft-eligible sophomore right-hander entered the season as a top prospect but struggled mightily on Friday as he allowed six runs, five earned, on five hits and five walks in three innings.
After an RBI single in the fourth, DeVito crushed a grand slam to right field in the sixth. He finished with an RBI single in the seventh before being lifted for a pinch runner.
“DeVito did a good job, clutched up and put himself in a good position to do what he’s supposed to do,” Birmingham said. “It’s promising, let’s just say that.”
As the final score might indicate, DeVito was far from the only Lobo to have a banner day at the plate. Luis Gonzalez went 4-for-5, falling a home run shy of the cycle, while Carl Stajduhar was 2-for-4 with a solo home run.
Jack Zoellner finished with three runs scored, while freshman Jared Mang crossed the plate four times. Both had the benefit of batting in front of DeVito.
As for the pitching, the Lobos went until the ninth inning before they gave up a walk. Starter Carson Schneider (2-0) allowed two runs on 10 hits while striking out six in six innings.
“Schneider pitched really well against a very good offensive team,” Birmingham said. “He kept them in check and I was really impressed with that.”
Matt Villalobos followed with two scoreless frames. Senior Taylor Duree, however, struggled badly in the ninth, giving up five runs on four hits and three walks in two-thirds of an inning.
UNM and Wichita State (2-3) will meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. Right-hander Tyler Stevens (0-0) will start for the Lobos against the Shockers’ Willie Schwanke (1-1).