Rio Grande Rivalry Comes to Lobo Field
April 16, 2013
Lobo Baseball - at Lobo Field, Albuquerque, N.M.
When: Wednesday, 3:05 p.m. (MT)
Who: New Mexico St. Aggies
GoLobos.com: Gametracker, live stats, box score, postgame recap and stats
Radio: ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team
Video: Live stream available at GoLobos.com
Mountain West Standings
|Place||School||MW record||Overall record|
|2||San Diego St.||10-5||19-17|
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Lobos take a brief foray out of Mountain West play to host intrastate rival New Mexico St. Wednesday afternoon at Isotopes Park. It is the final event of the 2012-13 Rio Grande Rivalry, which is a series between the two universities that encompasses sports for both programs. The Lobos are currently leading the Aggies by a score of 21.75 - 4.50.
The Lobos, however, lost on the diamond to the Aggies in Las Cruces, N.M., back on April 1 and are looking to avoid being swept by their rivals this season. Playing the second game of the season series at Lobo Field, where UNM is 7-2 this season, should help the Lobos. Also, All-American DJ Peterson missed the game on April 1 due to injury, but he is back and fully healthy. The Lobos are also playing some of their best baseball of the season. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games, including a 4-1 record last week. They split a doubleheader at then-No. 10 Arkansas before sweeping MW foe Fresno St. in three games at Lobo Field.
The Aggies, meanwhile, are coming off a WAC series loss to Sacramento St. in which they were outscored 26-13. New Mexico St. still possesses a potent lineup, however, as they are 14th in the nation in runs per game with 7.3. That number is aided greatly by the fact that they are second nationally in total walks with 218 in 36 games. The Lobos will count on freshman righty Taylor Duree, making only his second career start, to stymie the Aggie offense.
• SCOUTING NEW MEXICO ST. ... The Aggies are coming off a WAC series loss to Sacramento St. in which they were outscored 26-13 and lost two of three. NMSU is once again a great offensive team as they rank fourth nationally in home runs, 14th in OBP and 24th in slugging. They also average 7.3 runs per game, which is 14th in the country, while the Lobos are fourth in the nation scoring 7.9 runs per game. The Aggies excel at drawing walks. Their 218 free passes ranks second in the country. Robert Medina is only slugging .312 but his 32 walks lead the club and he has a .451 OBP. Tanner Rust paces the Aggies offensively with a .378 average. Robert Lecount, who is hitting .338, is the main power threat as he leads the team with eight home runs, 43 RBI and a .621 slugging percentage. Both of those players hit a home run during NMSU’s 10-5 victory over the Lobos in Las Cruces on April 1. The pitching staff has a 5.69 ERA and is allowing 6.6 runs per game. As a staff they’re averaging over a strikeout per inning, but they also allow almost two baserunners per inning on average. Wednesday’s starter, sophomore lefty Robert Kraft, will be making his first start of the season. He has only thrown 3.1 innings this season over eight appearances.Opponents are batting .438 off him but he has allowed only one run on seven hits and four walks.
• LOBOS SWEEP AWARDS ... Following a week in which they went 4-1, including a sweep of MW foe Fresno St., Lobos Josh Melendez and Drew Bridges were named MW Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, on April 15. Melendez went 10-for-19 with a double, triple, and home run as he extended his hitting streak to a career-best 15 games. Bridges got the win in a 3-0 shutout in the first game of a doubleheader at then-No. 10 Arkansas on April 9. He went a career-long 5.1 innings and allowed only three hits while striking out three.
• THIS ONE ALSO GOES TO 12 ... Entering the eighth inning on April 13 trailing the Fresno St. Bulldogs 3-2, the Lobos needed a rally. They got one in a big way. The first 12 batters of the inning reached base and each one eventually came around to score. It is the most runs scored in an inning in the Birmingham era. The last time UNM scored 12 runs in a frame was April 15, 2007 at Air Force. (The Lobos also scored 12 runs in an inning earlier that season against Rhode Island on March 11 at Isotopes Park.) The last time the Lobos scored more than 12 in an inning was on March 11, 2005 at Isotopes Park against Savannah St. UNM scored 15 runs in the second on its way to a 20-7 victory.
• JUST LIKE THEY DREW IT UP ... Freshman RHP Drew Bridges has been spectacular in his last two starts. On April 2 against Texas Tech he allowed two runs on two hits in five innings to earn his first career win. One week later at 10th-ranked Arkansas on April 9 he was even better. He gave up only three hits and one walk in 5.1 shutout innings as the Lobos defeated the Razorbacks 3-0. In his past 10.1 innings he has only allowed five hits (all singles) and three walks with six strikeouts. Of his five hits allowed, three haven’t even left the infield. Not bad for a player who came to UNM this past fall as a shortstop.
• NO REST? NO PROBLEM ... Senior catcher Mitch Garver doesn’t take days off. You can always pencil him into the lineup no matter what. Need proof? He has started 158 straight games over the past three seasons, including all 36 so far in 2013. That is believed to be the third longest active streak in the country.
• 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.
• DOUBLE TROUBLE ... DJ Peterson moved into a tie for third place with Robert Gonzales on the school’s all-time doubles list with 68 after knocking one against Fresno St. on April 13. He only needs two more to move into sole possession of second place. Daniel Stovall holds the school record 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 244 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.
• FOLLOW MY LEAD ... The Lobos have had their leadoff man reach in 138 of 323 innings this season for an OBP of .427. That beats the team’s overall OBP of .415 and is a big reason the team is fourth in the country averaging 7.9 runs per game
• DUCK! ... Lobo batters have been hit by 48 pitches in 36 games so far this season for an average of 1.3 HBP per game. If they keep up their current pace they will move into second place on the school’s single-season list by the end of the year.
• 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.
• EXPECT RUNS EARLY ... Both the Lobos and their opponents are scoring early and often this season. In the first inning of games the Lobos (33 runs) and their opponents (37) have combined to score 70 runs.
• 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. He currently ranks in the Top 10 in 10 offensive categories in MW play. He has also yet to commit an error in conference play this season.
• 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.
• 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 has been one of the Lobos’ most reliable relievers all season. Two stats in particular stand out for him. 1) Opponents are just 2-23 (.087) 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 .205 (8-39) batting average.