UNM Baseball Set for First Road Series of 2012
Feb. 22, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The New Mexico Lobo baseball team will travel to San Antonio, Texas, for its first road series of the 2012 season against Texas-San Antonio.
"UTSA is a good ball club," head coach Ray Birmingham said. "They are usually in the top three or four in their conference. We took three of four from them last year. But, I don't worry about the other team during this part of the season. I worry about the guys in our dugout and how they are playing the game."
Media: Live Stats will be available on GoLobos.com and GOUTSA.com courtesy of UTSA. Live audio will also be available on GOUTSA.com for Friday and Sunday's games.
Against UTSA: UNM leads the all-time series against UTSA, 3-1. All games played have been in Albuquerque, N.M. This will be the first time the Lobos have gone down to San Antonio to play the Roadrunners.
Series Record: 3-1
Home: 3-1; Away: 0-0; Neutral: 0-2
Up Next: UNM will come back home to Isotopes Park to face the no. 15 nationally-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in a three game series March 2-4.
LOBO BASEBALL QUICK HITS
We Really Are New Mexico ... The 2012 New Mexico baseball team has 13 players from the state of New Mexico. It is no secret coach Ray Birmingham wants to take local kids all the way to Omaha. Ever since he got to UNM, he has been a big advocate of recruiting the best local talent New Mexico has to offer.
Preseason All-MW ... Two Lobos were named to the 2012 All-MW Preseason team - DJ Peterson, as a first baseman, and Alex Allbritton, as a shortstop. UNM was picked third in the preseason coaches' poll.
Lobos Big Opening Weekend ... The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association has released its first weekly attendance report of the season and the New Mexico Lobos have come in at No. 28 after their home opening weekend series against the University of Nevada.
"To be in the top 30 in attendance is huge," head coach Ray Birmingham said. "Lobo baseball continues to grow in a very positive way."
TIMELY HITTING ... The Lobos are batting .333 (10-30) with 13 RBI with runners in scoring position through their first three games of the season.
RECORD START ... Starting CF Josh Melendez set a UNM record under coach Ray Birmingham by reaching base in his first seven plate appearances of the season. It's the most consecutive times reaching base to start a season and to start a career under Birmingham.
THERE'S A FIRST FOR EVERYTHING ... 12 Lobos got their first taste of D-1 baseball in the season opening series against Nevada Feb. 17-19.
POWER WALKING ... The Lobos as a team had 17 walks compared to only 14 strikeouts in their season opening series, including six from starting CF Josh Melendez.
SCOUTING THE ROADRUNNERS ... UTSA returns 18 letterwinners, including six positional starters and seven pitchers from last year's squad that posted a 27-32 overall record (16-17 Southland). The Roadrunners were picked to finish fourth in the 2012 Southland Conference Preseason Polls. UTSA went 2-2 in its first four games of the season, losing its opening series to Louisiana-Monroe two, games to one, and defeating Houston Baptist 9-6 on Tuesday. Horacio Correa III, Riley Good and Daniel Rockett have all jumped out to a fantastic start offensively, batting .412, .368 and .353, respectively. Rockett has also been the Roadrunners RBI machine, netting six in four games thus far.
PLAYING THE CREAM OF THE CROP ... Once again coach Ray Birmingham has challenged his team with a very tough schedule. UNM will face the likes of 2011 NCAA tournament participants Oklahoma and Arizona State. The Lobos will host both schools this year, however, because UNM traveled to Norman, Okla., and Tempe, Ariz., last season. The Lobos also have two series against conference powerhouse TCU, as well as a home series against a very formidable Florida Gulf Coast squad. Gonzaga is no picnic either, as the Bulldogs will come to Albuquerque this year as well.
On the field and at the plate, UNM returns DJ Peterson (.317), Mitchell Garver (.301), Kyle Stiner (.282), Ben Woodchick (.268) and Alex Allbritton (.257). Peterson set an NCAA record for doubles (32) in a season by a freshman. He was named to two freshman All-American teams and is a third-team Louisville Slugger All-American pick this preseason.
These Lobo hitters were tested by some of the top arms in college baseball in 2011 and should be swinging at a higher level in 2012. Birmingham thinks so: "We are back to having the kind of offense we had in `09 when we led the country in hitting. Our offense is going to be way better."
Sometimes in baseball, you hit for show and you pitch for dough. Of course, both elements are crucial, but you don't win without pitching. Birmingham likes his 2012 staff.
"Pitching at UNM has been my biggest concern and this is the best pitching staff we've had since I've been here," said the fifth-year UNM coach. The UNM mound crew is so solid that Rudy Jaramillo, one of the postseason heroes of 2011, might have to step up his game to become a weekend arm for the Lobos. This 2012 pitching staff is loaded.
UNM returns Jaramillo (4-8, 4.25 ERA), Austin House (1-2, 5.90), Jake McCasland (2-6, 6.34), Bobby Mares (4-4, 4.97), Alexis Garza (1-3, 5.14), and Gera Sanchez (2-3, 5.26). Birmingham also is high on transfer Sam Wolff.
"Wolff has looked good in the fall. He has a chance to pitch on the weekend," said Birmingham. "Austin House has been lights out all fall. He is possibly our Friday-night guy. If he keeps pitching like this, he can have Friday, Saturday and Sunday."
Behind the plate, the Lobos have one of the top catchers in the Mountain in Mitchell Garver. "He's good," said Birmingham. "He can throw. He can hit. He has what it takes to call a game. He can be that psychologist, that motivator for the pitching staff."
Birmingham has always been high on his catcher and has mentioned numerous times that he thinks Garver can be as good or better a hitter than former Lobo All-American catcher Rafael Neda, who currently is working his way up the Milwaukee Brewers farm system.
The Lobos' schedule isn't as nasty as it was a year ago, but there will be some front-line challenges including Arizona State, Oklahoma, Gonzaga and TCU of the Mountain. "We've already been through the junkyard and now we are a junkyard dog," said Birmingham. "The schedule is going to be tough, but we`ll be at home a lot more and that helps."
Said Stiner: "We learned a lot last year."
The TCU Horned Frogs again are expected to be one of the top teams in the nation and are the preseason pick to win the MW. Birmingham understands that pick. "TCU is still the big, bad boy. They'll be the team to beat," said Birmingham, whose Lobos were picked to finish third behind UNLV.
"We're going to scratch and claw and work our butts off. We'll go out and play Lobo baseball and see what happens"
LOBOS PICKED TO FINISH THIRD IN POLL ... The Mountain West released the 2012 Baseball Preseason Poll and the University of New Mexico was picked to finish third according to the panel of coaches in the conference.
New Mexico (20-41, 10-14 MW) made its second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance last season by earning the MW Championship title and the league's automatic bid. Head coach Ray Birmingham returns 17 letterwinners, including a solid core made up of MW Championship Most Valuable Player Peterson (1B, So.), Mitchell Garver (C, Jr.), Rudy Jaramillo (Sr., RHP), Austin House (RHP, Jr.), Ben Woodchick (INF/OF, Sr.) and Allbritton (SS, Jr.).
Rk. Team (1st place votes) Points
1. TCU (5) 25
2. UNLV 16
3. New Mexico 15
4. San Diego State 12
5. Air Force 7
2012 MOUNTAIN WEST PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Position - Name, Class Institution
C - Josh Elander, Jr. TCU
1B - DJ Peterson, So. New Mexico
2B - Scott Dysinger, Sr. UNLV
3B - Jantzen Witte, Jr. TCU
SS - Alex Albritton, Jr. New Mexico
OF - Jason Coats, Sr. TCU
OF - Brance Rivera, Sr. TCU
OF - Cody Smith, So. San Diego State
UT/DH - Brandon Bayardi, Sr. UNLV
P - Andrew Mitchell, So. TCU
P - Cole Swanson, So. San Diego State
DJ Peterson NAMED PRE SEASON ALL AMERICAN ... Sophomore DJ Peterson was named to the Louisville Slugger Pre-Season All-American Team as announced by Collegiate Baseball newspaper. Peterson was selected as the third-team first baseman and was one of two Mountain West players to make the list. TCU's Josh Elander was named the third-team catcher.
"DJ is a first-class kid," head coach Ray Birmingham said. "He has grown and matured as a baseball player and as a person. He is another in a line of great Lobo hitters and will be playing on TV someday."
Last season Peterson led the Lobos in almost every offensive category, including: batting average (.317), hits (78), HR's (6), RBI (48), total bases (134) and slugging percentage (.545). He is coming off a year in which he was named to two freshmen all-America teams (NCBWA and Louisville Slugger). Peterson also set a new NCAA record for doubles in a single season by a freshman, with 32. His 32 doubles puts him in a tie with former Lobo Justin Howard for the single-best season in Mountain West history
LOBOS ANNOUNCE BROADCAST SCHEDULE ... The University of New Mexico and ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team have reached an agreement, once again, to broadcast Lobo baseball. UNM and 101.7 The Team have agreed to broadcast 25 Lobo games this year, including road games at New Mexico State and Texas Tech, as well as the Mountain West Tournament. A list of the games being broadcast can be found on GoLobos.com.
LOBO BASEBALL TV SCHEDULE ... The Lobo baseball team will have five games televised this season. New Mexico's most exciting TV game will appear on the CBS Sports Network against 2011 NCAA tournament opponent Arizona State at 7 p.m. April 10 at Isotopes Park.
April 10 vs. Arizona State at 7 p.m. MT (CBS College Sports)
April 13 at SDSU at 7 p.m. MT (The Mtn.)
April 14 at SDSU at 7 p.m. MT (The Mtn.)
April 15 at SDSU at 2 p.m. MT (The Mtn.)
May 11 at UNLV at 7:05 p.m. MT (The Mtn.)
LOBOS RECEIVING VOTES ... Fresh off its Mountain West Championship, the University of New Mexico baseball team will not be flying under the radar in the 2012 season. Collegiate Baseball newspaper announced its 2012 preseason Top 40 today and has the Lobos listed just outside the Top 40 in the receiving votes category.
New Mexico finished the 2011 season with a 20-41 record, but shocked the MW field when it swept through the tournament to win it's first ever tournament championship and earn its second straight bid into the NCAA tournament.
COLLEGEBASEBALLINSIDER.COM POLL RECOGNIZES A FEW LOBOS ... Lobo head coach Ray Birmingham received high praise from his fellow MW coaches after being chosen as the best game coach along with TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle.
Last year's freshman All-American DJ Peterson was chosen as one of the three best pure hitters in the conference as well as the most underrated hitter. Peterson set an NCAA record for doubles in a season by a freshman with 32 last season.