Lobos Face Nevada in Key Early-Season MW Series

March 21, 2013

Series Notes: Lobos vs. Nevada Get Acrobat Reader

Lobo Baseball - at Isotopes Park
When: Friday, 6 p.m. (MT), Saturday, 5 p.m. (MT), Sunday, 1 p.m. (MT)
Who: Nevada Wolf Pack
GoLobos.com: Gametracker, live stats, live stream, postgame recap and stats
Promotions: Saturday is 
Cowboy Night at Isotopes Park. Fans in their best cowboy dress will receive a ticket for only $3. Also, fans who attend the Softball game earlier in the day and bring their softball ticket to the baseball game will get in for free!

PLEASE NOTE: PBR is taking place at The Pit and Lobo softball has a home tournament this weekend. Parking will be more congested than usual. Fans attending the Lobo baseball games are encouraged to park in the Stadium East parking lot.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Lobos return to Mountain West play tied atop the conference standings with San Diego St. and Nevada, this weekend's opponent, as each team went 2-1 the opening weekend. The Wolf Pack won a home series against Air Force while the Lobos went to then-No. 21 UNLV and won their first road series of the year. UNM is coming off a doubleheader split with Missouri St. Tuesday at Isotopes Park. UNM rallied for a 6-5 win in 11 innings in game one before dropping an 8-2 decision in the nightcap. The Wolf Pack enter on a two-game losing streak. They lost to Air Force 7-3 on Sunday and followed that up with a 7-1 loss at the University of San Francisco on Tuesday. Offensively Nevada is led by Austin Byler. The sophomore out of Peoria, Ariz., ranks second in the MW in home runs (six), RBI (25) and total bases (57) behind UNM's DJ Peterson. His .387 average is third in the conference. The pitching staff is led by a potential Top 10 pick in this June's MLB draft, junior Bradey Shipley. In five starts the right-hander, who is scheduled to start Friday night's game, is 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA. His 41 strikeouts in 35.2 innings lead the conference.

• Scouting Nevada ... The Wolf Pack enter the series against the Lobos with a 13-8 record. They are tied for first in the Mountain West with UNM and San Diego St. after one weekend of conference play. Offensively they are led by Austin Byler, who, outside of DJ Peterson, is having the best season of any hitter in the MW. He has six home runs, 25 RBI, four doubles, and three triples. He is hitting .387 and slugging .760. Most of his damage, however, came in one three-homer game against Holy Cross on March 2. Nevada also has sophomore first baseman Kewby Meyer and senior outfielder Brooks Klein hitting .347 and .363, respectively. No other regular, however, has an average above .268. On the mound the Wolf Pack are led by Friday-night starter Bradey Shipley. A potential Top-10 pick in this June’s MLB draft, he has been fantastic. He owns a 3-0 record with a 2.52 ERA. He has struck out 41 in 35.2 innings and is holding opponents to a .213 average. Saturday’s starter, Tyler Wells, has been almost as good. He sports a 4-0 record with a 2.79 ERA. Their closer, freshman Michael Fain, has been phenomenal as well. He has six saves and a 1.59 ERA in 11.1 innings over 10 appearances.

• Hit parade ... Senior catcher Mitch Garver carries a career-long 19-game hitting streak into the series against the Wolf Pack. He has a hit in every game this season except the opener against Oklahoma St. on Feb. 15. He has eight multi-hit games during the streak, including two games with three and one game with four hits. He is second on the Lobos in hitting, is tied for the team lead in doubles, is second in triples, and is third in RBI.

• Can't catch me ... Good luck trying to throw out senior center fielder Josh Melendez if he takes off stealing. You’ll need it. Dating back to Feb. 24 last season, he has stolen his last 28 bases successfully. He stole 21 in a row to end the 2012 season, and so far in 2013 he is a perfect 7-7.

• Chasing DJ ... DJ Peterson currently leads or is tied for the lead in 11 offensive categories in the MW: batting, slugging, OBP, runs, hits, RBI, doubles, triples, home runs, total bases, and walks.

• Compared to2012 ... Through the same number of games last season, in 2013 the Lobo offense has a higher batting average, has scored 38 more runs, has hit more doubles and home runs, has higher slugging and on-base percentages, has hit into fewer double plays, and has stolen more bases at a better success rate. Their pitchers have struck out more batters than last season, in which they set a school record for strikeouts, and have held opponents to a .285 batting average against, which is 20 points better than at this stage in 2012.

• Nearing 1,000 ... UNM head coach Ray Birmingham is only seven wins shy of 1,000 for his collegiate coaching career, which has spanned a quarter-century. He spent his first two years at College of the Southwest, the next 18 years at New Mexico Junior College, and is now entering his sixth year at the helm of the Lobos. He has averaged over 39 wins per season in his career overall, and 33 per season at UNM. His 166 wins in his first five years is the most a Lobo coach as ever had in their first half a decade on the job, narrowly beating out the 165 Vince Cappelli won from 1977-82, and it has come against the five toughest schedules in program history.

• 200 and counting ... Senior catcher Mitch Garver reached a milestone against Nebraska on Saturday, March 2, by recording his 200th career hit. He is only the second player in UNM history whose primary position was catcher to reach that plateau, and he currently has 219. Former All-American Rafael Neda holds the record for career hits for backstops at UNM with 233.

 Extra-inning blues ... In 2012 the Lobos had only three games all season go into extra frames, but they have already bested that number about a quarter of the way through the season. Unfortunately, unlike last year when they went 2-1 the Lobos struggled in extras to start the season. They lost their first three extra-inning games and were outscored 6-0 in the process. Things might be turning around for the Lobos, however. UNM recorded its first extra-inning win of the season March 15 at No. 21 UNLV when Josh Melendez drove in the game-winning run in the 10th inning of a 3-2 affair. They followed that up with a come-from-behind 6-5 victory over Missouri St. in the first game of a doubleheader on March 19.

• Eleven? Ha! This one goes to 12 ... Junior DJ Peterson had himself a weekend against UC Riverside as he reached base safely in 12 straight plate appearances. Beginning with his final at bat on Friday, March 9, and extending through both games of the doubleheader on March 10, he had seven straight hits, including four home runs, before the Highlanders refused to pitch to him. After homering in his first at bat in the second game of the twin bill, he saw 20 straight pitches out of the strike zone and walked five times. Even though he played two full games and in parts of two others, he did not make an out for over 40 hours.

• Runs for everyone ... In six games from March 5 through March 10 the Lobos scored 75 runs. So far that is more than 82 teams have scored all season. UNM currently ranks ninth in the nation in scoring and is averaging 8.2 runs per game.

• Walk this way ... The Lobos drew 15 walks against UC Riverside in the second game of their doubleheader on March 9. It was one shy of the school record and two shy of the Mountain West record. DJ Peterson (five) and Ryan Padilla (four) accounted for nine of those walks.