Two Non-Conference Games on Tap for Lobos

March 31, 2013

Weekly Notes: Lobos at NMSU; Lobos vs. Texas Tech Get Acrobat Reader

Lobo Baseball - at Preseley Askew Field Monday; at Lobo Field Tuesday
When: Monday in Las Cruces, 6:05 p.m. (MT); Tuesday in Albuquerque, 2:05 p.m. (MT)
Who: New Mexico St. Aggies and Texas Tech Red Raiders Gametracker, live stats, live stream (for Tuesday's game only), postgame recap and stats
Radio: Both games will be carried live by ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team with Robert Portnoy providing the play-by-play

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Lobos, fresh off their third straight series win to begin Mountain West play, face two tough non-conference teams with early-week games at New Mexico St. and home against Texas Tech. The Aggies are coming off a series loss at CSU Bakersfield, while the Red Raiders are currently in the midst of a four-game losing streak as they finish a home series against TCU Sunday. Like UNM, both teams are hovering near the .500 mark, but unlike UNM they are struggling in their respective conferences. NMSU has won only two WAC games thus far while Texas Tech is 3-5 in the Big 12.

• SCOUTING NEW MEXICO ST. ... The Aggies (15-14) are coming off a series loss to CSU Bakersfield in which they only scored seven runs in three games as their usually potent lineup was held in check. Offensively they are led by senior infielder Tanner Rust’s .368 average with Robert Lecount (.321) and Parker Hipp (.302) also hitting above .300. Lecount leads the team in home runs and RBI with six and 34, respectively. As always, the Aggies are patient at the plate. They have drawn 173 walks this season, which is 41 more than the Lobos. The pitching staff has struggled at times and owns a 5.39 ERA. Junior lefty Christopher Bradley leads the way with a 3.64 mark. One thing the staff does very well is produce strikeouts as they have punched out 256 batters in 243.2 innings. Opponents are hitting .292 with a whopping 57 doubles off Aggie pitching.

• SCOUTING TEXAS TECH ... The Red Raiders (16-13 entering Sunday) are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, including a 7-6 loss to NMSU March 25, as they finish a series against TCU Sunday. Texas Tech has struggled with the bat at times this season, hitting only .247 as a team. The Red Raiders don’t have a single regular hitting higher than .288 and are slugging just .322. Jake Barrios is slugging a team-high .438 and is tied for the team lead in both triples and homers with two apiece. TTU really shines on the mound, however. They are paced by Trey Masek’s ridiculous 0.22 ERA. He has allowed only one run in 40 innings this season. As a staff they are holding opponents to a .269 batting average and own a 3.40 ERA. They have also struck out 221 batters and issued just 85 walks. The Red Raiders are also sound defensively as they have committed just 31 errors in 29 games this season.

• NEARING 1,000 ... UNM head coach Ray Birmingham is only three 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. In 2013 the Lobos have played eight of their 23 games against teams that have been ranked in the Top 25 at some point during the season.

• 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 231. Former All-American Rafael Neda holds the record for career hits for backstops at UNM with 233. 

• DINGED UP ... UNM played its last two games against San Diego St. without the services of All-American DJ Peterson, who injured his right hamstring legging out his third double of Thursday’s game. The Lobos also played most of Sunday’s contest without All-American Mitch Garver, who was hit in the face with a ball while running the bases after singling in the first inning.

• MR. CLUTCH ... On March 19 vs. Missouri St. and again on March 22 vs. Nevada Mitch Garver delivered a game-winning, walk-off hit. After defeating the Wolf Pack, teammate DJ Peterson called him “Mr. Clutch.” Garver has now delivered a walk-off hit four times in his career

• FIFTH-YEAR PITCHING ... Senior left-handed pitcher Gabe Aguilar is having his best season to date in the cherry and silver in his fifth season in the program. He is leading the team in ERA and has been the Lobos’ most reliable reliever all season. Two stats in particular stand out for him. 1) Opponents are just 1-18 (.056) against him with two outs. 2) Even more impressive is his success as a lefty against right-handed batters as he has held them to a .143 (4-28) batting average.

• HIT PARADE ... Senior catcher Mitch Garver carries a career-long 25-game hitting streak into the game against the Aggies. He has a hit in every game this season except the opener against Oklahoma St. on Feb. 15 in which he went 0-for-2 with two walks. He has 11 multi-hit games during the streak, including three games with three and two games with four hits. He leads the team in doubles and stolen bases, is tied for the lead in hitting and triples, runs, and is second in runs, RBI, slugging, and OBP.

• SACRIFICE ANYTHING ... Senior infielder Alex Allbritton is currently tied for the national lead with six sacrifice flies, which is already a career-high for the four-year starter. Meanwhile, freshman Sam Haggerty leads the MW with seven sacrifice bunts, which places him in a tie for 19th in the country.

• TARGET PRACTICE? ... Despite standing only 5’6, freshman Jared Holley has been hit eight times this season. That ties him for the conference lead despite having 42 fewer at bats than the player he’s tied with, Air Force’s Garrett Custons. Holley is averaging one HBP every two games, which is tied for 11th in the nation.

• GARVER NAMED POW ... After extending his hitting streak to a career-best 22 games and recording two game-winning, walk-off hits from March 19-24, senior catcher Mitch Garver was named Mountain West Player of the Week.

• 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 nine offensive categories in the MW: batting, slugging, OBP, runs, RBI, doubles, triples, home runs, and total bases.