Doubleheader on Tap for Lobos at No. 10 Arkansas

April 8, 2013

Series Notes: Lobos at No. 10 Arkansas Get Acrobat Reader

Lobo Baseball - at Baum Field, Fayetteville, Ark.
When: Tuesday (DH), 2:05 p.m. (MT)
Who: No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks Postgame recap and stats
Radio: ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - It will be strength against strength when the New Mexico baseball team travels to face the 10th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks for a doubleheader Tuesday. The teams were originally scheduled to play games Tuesday and Wednesday, but the threat of inclement weather Wednesday forced the teams to play a twin bill. The Lobos, who rank in the Top 10 nationally in 10 offensive categories and are the fourth highest scoring team in the nation, have a tall task ahead in trying to crack the Razorback pitching staff. Arkansas leads the country with a microscopic 1.59 ERA, and it's not just a few guys carrying the load. They have used 15 different pitchers this season, and not a single one sports an ERA higher than 2.96.

UNM will need the likes of DJ Peterson, Mitch Garver and Alex Real to come through against Arkansas' scheduled starters: lefties Tyler Wright and Colin Poche. Peterson leads the nation in slugging (.920) and total bases (103), while Garver has 11 doubles and 27 RBI. Real, meanwhile, has really come on strong of late. He is hitting .424 (25-for-59) with six doubles and two home runs in his last 15 games.

The Razorback southpaws come in with sparkling numbers. Wright, a senior from Houston, is 1-0 in six appearances, including one start, and has yet to allow a run in 9.1 innings. He has struck out 13 and allowed only two hits and one walk. Poche, a freshman from Flower Mound, Texas, has been as good or better than Wright. In five appearances, including four starts, he is 3-0 and allowed only one run in 17 innings. He has given up eight hits, issued eight walks, and struck out 18.

The Lobos will counter with freshman Drew Bridges in game one. The righty out of Fuita, Colo., is coming off his first career win last Tuesday over Texas Tech. He started and allowed two runs on only two hits in five innings. The second starter for UNM is to be determined.

• SCOUTING ARKANSAS ... It’s strength vs. strength as the Lobos and their fifth ranked scoring offense (8.0 runs per game) travel to face the Razorbacks and their NCAA-leading pitching staff (1.59 ERA). Arkansas entered the season ranked No. 1 by numerous publications, but they have dropped to 10th in the most recent polls. Their offense has five starters hitting .294 or better (led by sophomore infielder Brian Anderson’s .330 average), but it has been their pitching staff that has been the key to the team’s success. The pitching staff has only allowed 51 earned runs (and 77 total) in 288.2 innings and have held opponents to a.194 batting average against, a .233 slugging percentage and a .270 on-base percentage. The Razorbacks have not allowed more than seven runs in any game this season. Game one’s starter, senior Tyler Wright, has yet to allow a run in 9.1 innings over six appearances and one start. He has struck out 13 and allowed only two hits and three walks. Game two’s starter, freshman Colin Poche, has been just as good. He is 3-0 in five appearances, four starts, and has only allowed one run on eight hits and eight walks in 17 innings (0.53 ERA) with 18 strikeouts.

 1,000 WINS ... UNM head coach Ray Birmingham reached 1,000 career wins when the Lobos defeated Air Force 19-5 on Saturday, April 6. He spent the first two years of his career at College of the Southwest, the next 18 years at New Mexico Junior College, and is now in 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 31 games against teams that have been ranked in the Top 25 at some point during the season.

The MW Digital Network interviews Coach Birmingham after his 1,000th career win

• DOUBLE TROUBLE ... DJ Peterson moved into fourth place on the school’s all-time doubles list with 67 after knocking three against Air Force April 5 and 6. He only needs three more to move into sole possession of second place. Daniel Stovall holds the school records with 78 during his career from 2004-07.

• 200 233 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. Former All-American Rafael Neda used to hold the record for career hits for backstops at UNM with 233, until Garver passed him in his first at bat against Air Force on April 6. He singled through the left side in the first inning and added two more hits that game. He now has 236 career hits as he adds to his lead with every hit he collects. He has a chance to reach the Top 5 for career hits at UNM by the team the season ends. Dusty Young is currently fifth in school history with 286.

• REAL IS FOR REAL ... Sophomore first baseman/designated hitter Alex Real is having a breakout campaign in his second season with the Lobos. He has already passed last season’s run, hit, home run, total bases and walk totals and has matched his number of doubles. His breakout truly began in last season’s Mountain West Tournament when he recorded a championship game-record seven RBI. In MW games so far he leads the conference in batting (.426), hits (20), total bases (32), and walks (nine), and he is second in OBP (.509), third in slugging (.681) and third in doubles (six).

 BACK IN THE FIELD ... Baseball America released its Midseason NCAA Projection on April 4 and the Lobos were picked to win the Mountain West and earn a four-seed in Georgia Tech’s regional.

• HALFWAY HOME ... Following their 10-3 win over Texas Tech on April 2, the Lobos have now passed the halfway point of the regular season. As of April 8 they lead the Mountain West in 17 offensive categories: batting, slugging, OBP, runs, hits, RBI, doubles, triples, home runs, total bases, plate appearances, at bats, walks, HBP, stolen bases, fewest strikeouts and sacrifice flies. Individually Lobos lead the MW in 15 offensive categories. On the pitching side, Josh Walker and Will Mathis lead the conference in appearances, and Sam Wolff is tied for the lead with 17 batters struck out looking.

• 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.

• HIT PARADE ... Senior catcher Mitch Garver saw his career-long 26-game hitting streak come to an end Tuesday, April 2 against Texas Tech. It was the second longest in Division I this season. During the streak he had 11 multi-hit games, including three games with three and two games with four hits. He leads the team in hits, is tied for the lead in doubles, triples and stolen bases, and is second in runs, RBI, slugging, OBP and total bases.

• SACRIFICE ANYTHING ... Senior infielder Alex Allbritton is currently sixth in the nation with six sacrifice flies, which is already a career-high for the four-year starter. Meanwhile, freshman Sam Haggerty leads the MW with nine sacrifice bunts, which places him in a tie for 18th in the country.

 TARGET PRACTICE? ... Despite standing only 5’6, freshman Jared Holley has been hit 12 times this season. That gives him the conference lead despite having 24 fewer at bats than the player in second, Air Force’s David Baska. Holley is averaging 0.52 HBP per game, which is fourth in the nation.

• CAN’T CATCH ME ... Good luck trying to throw out senior center fielder Josh Melendez if he takes off stealing because you’ll need it. Dating back to Feb. 24 last season, he has stolen his last 29 bases successfully. He stole 21 in a row to end the 2012 season and is a perfect 8-8 so far in 2013.

• CHASING DJ ... Despite missing four games with a strained hamstring, 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. He is second in hits (47, which is one behind teammate Mitch Garver) and third in walks (21, three behind teammate Sam Haggerty).

• EXPECT RUNS EARLY ... Both the Lobos and their opponents are scoring early and often this season. In the first inning of games the Lobos (30 runs) and their opponents (35) have combined to score 65 runs, which is seven more than in any other inning.