No. 17 Lobos Host Air Force With Chance to Clinch Mountain West
May 2, 2013
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: Air Force Falcons
GoLobos.com: Gametracker, live stats, live stream, 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.
Mountain West Standings
|2||San Diego St.||12-9||22-22|
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The 17th-ranked Lobos are right where they want to be with nine games remaining in the conference schedule: in first place. They own a five-game lead over second-place San Diego St., and a UNM sweep of Air Force this weekend, coupled with a loss by the Aztecs at Nevada, will give the Lobos at least a share of the Mountain West regular-season championship. A Lobo sweep, two SDSU losses, and a loss by third-place UNLV would give UNM sole possession of the championship.
The Lobos are coming off back-to-back-to-back MW series sweeps and have not lost to Air Force in Albuquerque in over a decade. Their last home defeat to the Falcons came on March 22, 2002.
UNM enters the series with the No. 1 team batting average in the country at .330. They also lead the nation in doubles per game at 2.55. DJ Peterson and Mitch Garver, who were named to the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list Thursday, lead the charge. Peterson is on pace to win the MW triple crown for a second straight season (.403, 13, 53) and has added 20 doubles. Garver is hitting .379 with 16 doubles and 43 RBI of his own.
Freshman Drew Bridges will make his third straight Friday-night start this weekend. He'll be forced to contend with one of the best hitters in Air Force's history, senior Garrett Custons. The catcher/outfielder is hitting .371 with 17 doubles and three triples to pace the Falcons. He gets on base at a .450 clip to lead the team. He's supported by Seth Kline, who's hitting .333, David Baska, who leads the team with five home runs, and Peter Johnson, who leads the club with 26 RBI.
The Falcons will try to cool UNM's hot bats with Cameron White, who has thrown two complete games this season, Ben Bertelson, who has struck out 74 hitters in 64.2 innings, and freshman Steven Jordan, who shut down the Lobos in an 11-4 Air Force win back on April 7.
• SCOUTING AIR FORCE ... After losing 17 of their previous 20 games, the Falcons are on a mini two-game winning streak, including just their second road win of the season, a 9-7 victory at Northern Colorado on Tuesday. Offensively the Falcons are led by senior Garrett Custons who is hitting .371 with 17 doubles, 35 runs scored and three triples. David Baska (.315) leads the team with five home runs, while Peter Johnson (.313) has a team-leading 26 RBI. Overall the Falcons are hitting .282 and slugging .390. The pitching staff has struggled for the most part this season, though. The team has a 5.78 ERA and is allowing opponents to hit .317. Sunday’s starter, Steven Jordan, leads the team with a 4.26 ERA and was the winning pitcher when Air Force defeated UNM 11-4 on April 7. Opponents are only hitting .229 off him. Ben Bertelson, Saturday’s starter, leads the team with 74 strikeouts in 64.2 innings, but has an ERA of 6.40
• JOHNNY’S EIGHT IS GREAT ... John Pustay is finally fully recovered from a dislocated kneecap he suffered last season, and the results are showing. Before narrowly getting thrown out on a groundout Tuesday at Texas Tech, he had recorded a hit in eight straight at bats. He doubled as a pinch hitter on April 21 at Nevada. He then singled as a pinch hitter April 27 against UNLV. He followed that up with another pinch-hit double against UNLV on April 28, and then tripled in his next at bat that same game. He then had a double and three singles against the Red Raiders before getting robbed of a hit in the ninth.
• GOLDEN SPIKES WATCH LIST ... USA Baseball released its midseason watch list for the Golden Spikes Award and both Mitch Garver and DJ Peterson were on it. Both players were also on the preseason watch list, and their strong play this season justified that placement. As of May 1 Peterson is on pace to win the Mountain West triple crown for the second straight year (.403, 13, 53), while Garver is second on the team in batting (.379), doubles (16), RBI (43), and OBP (.450).
• W0LFF 0N FIRE ... Senior Sam Wolff has been seeing a lot of zeroes lately, as he is on the best scoreless innings streak of his career. Dating back to April 13 at Fresno St., he has not allowed a run in his last 14 innings pitched. He has lowered his ERA a full run, from 4.91 to 3.81, during that time.
• MOVIN’ ON UP ... A week after re-joining the rankings, UNM has now achieved its highest ever spot in Baseball America’s rankings. The Lobos moved up to No. 17 this week, which is one spot higher than head coach Ray Birmingham’s squad achieved on March 30, 2009. UNM also saw its RPI move up to No. 40.
• W IS FOR “WALKER” AND “WIN” ... Last season Josh Walker was part of UNM’s excellent weekend rotation and went 8-3. This season he has been moved to the back of the bullpen and has been an anchor as the Lobos’ closer. He is 6-0 with seven saves. His career record of 14-3 gives him a winning percentage of .826, which is the highest in school history (min. 15 decisions). His seven saves this season also rank as tied for third most in school history.
• IF YOU WANT TO WIN PUT AGUILAR IN ... Senior left-handed pitcher Gabe Aguilar is in his fifth season at UNM because he redshirted the 2011 season. By the time he leaves the university, he has a great chance to be the all-time winningest Lobo in program history. When he was on the active roster in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013, the Lobos have won 139 games. That is only two shy of the school record held by Walt Arnold and Mike Foote, who both played from 1977-80. Aguilar also has 58 appearances in his career, which is only four shy of sixth place at UNM.
• HAGGERTY NAMED POW ... Sam Haggerty certainly isn’t playing like a freshman this season. His clutch game-winning sacrifice fly against UNLV on Sunday, April 28, gave UNM a wild, come-from-behind 14-13 10-inning win. His overall play against the Rebels was strong enough to earn him MW Player of the Week honors. He went 6-for-11 (.545) with five runs and three RBI. He was walked four times and laid down two sacrifice bunts as UNM extended its winning streak to 10 games
• FRIDAY, FRIDAY ... One of the reasons the Lobos have been able to win seven 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 9-1 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.
• 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 59 stolen bases in 44 games this season after swiping 61 in 61 games in 2012.
• 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 four 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. It was enough to earn him MW Pitcher of the Week honors. On Friday, April 19 at Nevada he outdueled Braden Shipley, a potential first-round pick this June. He allowed only one run on three hits in five innings with four strikeouts. Most recently he threw a career-high six shutout innings against UNLV at Lobo Field on Friday, April 26. He struck out three and only gave up three hits and one walk. Of his 14 hits allowed, all of which have been singles, three haven’t even left the infield. In total he has given up three runs in his last 21.1 innings while striking out 13 and walking only five. 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 166 straight games over the past three seasons, including all 44 so far in 2013. That is believed to be the third longest active streak in the country.
• DOUBLE TROUBLE ... DJ Peterson moved into second place on the school’s all-time doubles list with 73 after knocking one against UNLV this past weekend. He is only five 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.
• 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 257 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 166 of 393 innings this season for an OBP of .422. That beats the team’s overall OBP of .4189and is a big reason the team is second in the country averaging 8.2 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 (39 runs) and their opponents (38) have combined to score 77 runs.
• ... AND EXPECT RUNS LATE ... The highest scoring inning for UNM this season has been the eighth. The Lobos (60) and their opponents (38) have combined for 98 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 May 2)
Batting average (.330) 1st
Doubles per game (2.55) 1st
Slugging (.486) 2nd
Runs per game (8.2) 2nd
Hits (533) 3rd
Doubles (112) 3rd
Triples (23) 4th
OBP (.419) 4th
Triples per game (.52) 4th
Runs (360) 5th
Walks (210) 17th
Walks per game
DJ Peterson (.85) 16th
DJ Peterson (.403) 15th
DJ Peterson (20) 7th
Doubles per game
DJ Peterson (.50) 3rd
HBP per game
Jared Holley (.40) 14th
Mitch Garver (69) 10th
DJ Peterson (13) 4th
Home runs per game
DJ Peterson (.33) 4th
DJ Peterson (.520) 3rd
DJ Peterson (53) 11th
RBI per game
DJ Peterson (1.33) 4th
DJ Peterson (51) 10th
Runs per game
DJ Peterson (1.16) 4th
Sam Haggerty (13) 13th
Sacrifice bunts per game
Jared Holley (.31) 18th
Alex Allbritton (7) 9th
DJ Peterson (.811) 2nd
DJ Peterson (129) 5th
Josh Melendez (5) 16th