Lobo Baseball Takes to Isotopes Park for Series Against No. 16 Oklahoma
Feb. 29, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico Lobo baseball team comes back home to Isotopes Park to take on the No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners this weekend. The Lobos are coming off a series loss to UTSA, in which they were on the road. UNM looks to rebound against the nationally-ranked Sooners.
There were some game time changes that took place before the series. The game on Saturday, March 3, will now start at 4:30 p.m. to avoid a conflict with the men's basketball game being played at 2 p.m. The game on Sunday, March 4, will now start at noon to accommodate Oklahoma's travel schedule.
The Lobo Ticket Office is also running a special promotion for the Saturday game only. Fans who attend the men's basketball game that afternoon against Boise State may bring their ticket stub to Isotopes Park and receive $1 admission.
The Series against the Sooners will be the first of many series this season that ESPN Radio 101.7 the team will broadcast. The TEAM plans to broadcast Friday night's 6 p.m. game as well as Sunday's noon affair. The Lobos are out for revenge against Oklahoma, after losing last year's series to the Sooners in Norman, Okla.
"Our schedule is really tough," coach Ray Birmingham said. "The biggest thing I'm trying to do is tyring to get them to not focus on the team in the other dugout, but focus on the guys in our dugout."
SCOUTING THE SOONERS ... Oklahoma has opened the 2012 season with a 4-2 record, losing twice at Pepperdine in its opening series. The Sooners play UT-Arlington at home in a midweek game before they come to Albuquerque to face the Lobos. OU is currently ranked No. 16 in the nation and is consistently a national power. They are currently on a three-game winning streak headed into Wednesday’s game with UT-Arlington. Freshman catcher Hunter Lockwood has exploded onto the scene after smacking four home runs in three games against Hartford, giving him the early lead in the the Big 12 in that category.
SOONER OR LATER ... UNM is currently on a five-game losing streak against Oklahoma, and sports a 1-12 record against them since the teams’ first meeting in 1964. This is the Sooners first visit to Albuquerque.
MELENDEZ EARNS MW POW ... New Mexico Lobo outfielder Josh Melendez was named the Mountain West’s Baseball Player of the Week for games played from Feb. 20-26, 2012.
Melendez, a junior from Chandler, Ariz., hit .533 (8-for-15) in the Lobos four-game series at Texas-San Antonio last week. The UNM centerfielder recorded three multi-hit games, starting the series with a 3-for-4 performance in Friday’s 13-3 loss. On Saturday, UNM split a doubleheader (14-7, 2-3). In the win, Melendez was 2-for-3 from the plate with a double, a sacrifice fly and three runs scored. He was 1-for-4 in the nightcap. Melendez was 2-for-4 in the series finale on Sunday with two runs, an RBI and belted his first home run of the season. For the series, he stole one base in each game and only struck out once in 16 plate appearances.
“He is playing awesome,” head coach Ray Birmingham said. “Josh is a baseball player and that’s what I’ve said about him since he got here. He is a grown man and does things the right way. If you are going to draw a baseball player up, you draw up Josh Melendez.”
On a side note: Melendez set a UNM record under coach Birmingham by reaching base in his first seven plate appearances to start the 2012 season. It’s the most consecutive times reaching base to start a season and to start a career at UNM during the Birmingham era.
Melendez has also reached base safely in every game this season, and only has one game where he did not get a hit. Thus far in 2012, he leads the Lobos in batting at .522, on-base percentage at .613 to go along with 10 runs scored, a slugging percentage of .826, seven walks and five stolen bases in just seven games.
He has been great on defense as well, boasting a fielding percentage of 1.000. He is fluid and fast in center field and sees the ball very weel off the bat.
FOLLOW MY LEAD ... The Lobos have had their leadoff man reach in 25 of the 62 innings they’ve played so far this season. That is an on-base percentage of .403.
SPEED DEMONS ... Two Lobos, junior Josh Melendez and senior Ben Woodchick, stole home in the series against UTSA. It was the first time a Lobo had stolen home since Alex Allbritton accomplished the feat against Northern Colorado on Feb. 28, 2010.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
UPCOMING SCHEDULE ... 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.”v Said Kyle 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.).
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.
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.