No. 24 UNM Looks to Tighten Grip on Mountain West

April 24, 2013

Series Notes: No. 24 Lobos vs. UNLV Get Acrobat Reader

Lobo Baseball - Lobo Field, Albuquerque, N.M.
When: Friday, 3:05 p.m. (MT), Saturday, 1:05 p.m. (MT), Sunday, 1:05 p.m. (MT)
Who: UNLV Rebels
GoLobos.com: Gametracker, live stats, box score, postgame recap and stats
Radio: ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team will broadcast all three games live. Robert Portnoy, the voice of the Lobos, will provide the play-by-play.
Video: Live stream available at GoLobos.com

Promotions: It's Fan Appreciation Weekend! This weekend only admission for all three games against UNLV is FREE for everyone! With the Gathering of Nations taking place Friday and Saturday at The Pit, we realize it will be hectic around the ballpark, so we want to thank the fans for their support by offering free admission as we take on the Rebels! There will also be free parking for fans attending the baseball games in either the Stadium West or Baseball South parking lots. We'll see you at Lobo Field!

Mountain West Standings

PlaceSchoolMW Overall 
1 New Mexico 14-4 24-16
2 UNLV  11-7 27-12
3 San Diego St. 10-8 20-20
4 Fresno St. 8-10 13-25
5 Nevada 7-11 20-20
6 Air Force 4-14 10-28

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The surging, 24th-ranked Lobos are looking to secure their lead in the Mountain West standings as they host second-place UNLV for three games this weekend at Lobo Field. If UNM can win its seventh straight MW series, they will have no worse than a three-game lead with nine league games remaining. The Rebels will have something to say about that, however.

Like UNM, UNLV swept its MW series last weekend as they took three from San Diego St. and moved into second place in the standings. They won two one-run games and took the last game 5-2 to move to 11-7 in conference play. They are led by their pitching staff, and their starters in particular. Sophomore Erick Fedde (3.76), junior Buddy Borden (2.25) and freshman Kenny Oakley (2.62) have all been superb on the mound for UNLV this season and they will start the three games this weekend versus the Lobos.

UNM will provide a stiff challenge, though. In conference games they are hitting a stellar .340, with five players hitting .389 or better. Alex Allbritton (.414), DJ Peterson (.403), Josh Melendez (.400), Mitch Garver (.394) and Alex Real (.389) lead the best offense in the MW. UNM is averaging 8.7 runs per game in conference play, and its pitchers are allowing only 5.6. Further proof is evident by looking at the national statistical leaders. UNM is second in the nation in slugging (.479), third in hits (475) and batting average (.325), and fourth in runs per game (8.1), OBP (.416), runs (324) and doubles (96).

It will be a tall task to defeat the Rebels, though, because they fight to stay close in every game. In fact, 12 of their 27 wins this season have been by one run and four of their losses have come by one run. UNLV is second in the conference in both batting (.301) and pitching (3.91 ERA), but they have struggled a bit in MW play. In conference games their hitting slips to a .274 average and their ERA balloons to 4.46. Still, UNLV has won four in a row and five out of six, so the Lobos will need to be on top of their game as they continue their quest for the regular-season championship.


• SCOUTING UNLV ... The Rebels are almost as hot as the Lobos. After losing four out of five, UNLV has now won four straight, including a sweep last weekend of San Diego St. One thing you can count on with the Rebels is close games. Of their 18 in Mountain West play, only two have been decided by more than three runs, and a whopping 10 have been one-run games. The Rebels are second in the conference in batting behind UNM with a .301 average. The Lobos and Rebels are the only teams in the MW batting above .276. Junior infielder Patrick Armstrong has missed eight games but leads the team with a .381 average. T.J. White, who is second on the team with a .333 average, tied a MW record with seven hits in a game last Tuesday against UC Riverside. Seniors Brandon Bayardi (seven home runs, 28 RBI) and Mark Shannon (11 doubles, 35 RBI) are the main power threats in the Rebels’ lineup. Their pitching staff, though, is even better than their offense. The Rebels are second in the MW with a 3.91 staff ERA, led by Saturday’s starter Buddy Borden. He is 5-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 10 starts this season. He has 56 strikeouts in 68.0 innings and is holding batters to a .211 batting average against. Friday’s starter, Erick Fedde, leads the staff with 59 strikeouts, and Sunday’s starter, Kenny Oakley, is 4-2 with a 2.62 ERA and a .229 batting average against. Rebel pitchers also don’t issue many walks. They’ve walked only 112 batters in 358.2 innings. The Lobo offense, meanwhile, leads the MW with 192 walks drawn, 35 more than any other team in the conference. Defensively the Rebels are pretty strong, but White has made a whopping 24 errors (in 190 chances) at shortstop this season.

• RANKED AGAIN ... UNM opened the season ranked No. 21 by Baseball America, the first time that publication has ever ranked the Lobos in the preseason. After losing their opening series to Oklahoma St., however, the Lobos dropped out. But they have finally returned and are at No. 24 thanks to a seven-game winning streak and six straight Mountain West series wins. This also marks the fourth time in head coach Ray Birmingham’s six years that UNM has been ranked.

YearDateRank Publication 
2013 April 22 24 Baseball America
2012 June 1 26 Collegiate Baseball
2010 May 3 27 PING! Baseball
2009 March 30  18 Baseball America

• FRIDAY, FRIDAY ... One of the reasons the Lobos have been able to win six straight Mountain West series is their success on Fridays. Typically teams throw their best pitcher the first game of the series, and UNM is an astounding 8-1 on Fridays this season. In fact, the Lobos have won their past eight games on Friday. Their first game of the season was a 4-2 defeat to Oklahoma St. on Friday, Feb. 15, but since then they have literally been unbeatable.

• DOUBLE TROUBLE ... DJ Peterson moved into second place on the school’s all-time doubles list with 72 after knocking four against Nevada this past weekend. He is only six shy of the school record, held by Daniel Stovall who hit 78 during his career from 2004-07. Peterson is also now third in Mountain West history behind only Stovall and UNLV’s Brent Johnson, who hit 90 from 2001-2004.

• TAKING BASES AND TAKING NAMES ... In their 13-6 victory over New Mexico St. on April 17, the Lobos stole seven bases, which is tied for the fifth most ever in a game in school history. It was the most since the Lobos swiped eight bags against BYU on April 8, 2000. Josh Melendez (2), Chase Harris (2), DJ Peterson (1), Mitch Garver (1) and John Pustay (1) all got in on the action. UNM now has 55 stolen bases in 40 games this season after swiping 61 in 61 games in 2012.

• 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 15.1 innings he has only allowed eight hits (all singles) and four walks with 10 strikeouts. Of his eight 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 162 straight games over the past three seasons, including all 40 so far in 2013. That is believed to be the third longest active streak in the country.

• 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.

• 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 10 of their 37 games against teams that have been ranked in the Top 25 at some point during the season.

• 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 249 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 154 of 358 innings this season for an OBP of .430. That beats the team’s overall OBP of .416 and is a big reason the team is fourth in the country averaging 7.9 runs per game.

• EXPECT RUNS EARLY ... Both the Lobos and their opponents are scoring early and often this season. In the first inning of games the Lobos (36 runs) and their opponents (38) have combined to score 74 runs.

• ... AND EXPECT RUNS LATE ... The highest scoring inning for UNM this season has been the eighth. The Lobos (52) and their opponents (31) have combined for 83 runs in the second-to-last frame. So beware if you’re a reliever coming in to protect a lead late in the game.

Lobos statistics Top 25 national rankings
(as of April 25)
Team

Slugging (.479) 2nd
Hits (475) 3rd
Batting average (.325) 3rd
Runs per game (8.1) 4th
OBP (.416) 4th
Runs (324) 4th
Doubles (96) 4th
Triples (20) 5th
Doubles per game (2.40) 6th
Triples per game (.50) 9th
Walks (192) 17th
Home runs (30) 21st

Individual

Batting average
DJ Peterson (.400) 24th

Doubles
DJ Peterson (19) 5th

Doubles per game
DJ Peterson (.53) 4th

Games started
A.J. Carman (10) 21st
Sam Wolff (10) 21st

HBP
Jared Holley (14) 21st

HBP per game
Jared Holley (.44) 9th

Hits
Mitch Garver (61) 17th

Home runs
DJ Peterson (12) 5th

Home runs per game
DJ Peterson (.33) 4th

OBP
DJ Peterson (.511) 11th

RBI
DJ Peterson (50) 9th

RBI per game
DJ Peterson (1.39) 3rd

Runs
DJ Peterson (44) 16th

Runs per game
DJ Peterson (1.27) 5th

Sacrifice bunts
Sam Haggerty (11) 24th

Sacrifice flies
Alex Allbritton (6) 15th

Slugging
DJ Peterson (.821) 2nd

Total bases
DJ Peterson (119) 5th