Lobos Look to Defend Back-to-Back Tourney Titles
May 22, 2013
Lobo Baseball - Mountain West Tournament, Pete Beiden Field, Fresno, Calif.
When: Thursday, 8:00 p.m. (MT), Friday, TBA, Saturday, TBA, Sunday, 2 p.m. (MT - if necessary)
GoLobos.com: Gametracker, box score, postgame recap and stats
Radio: ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team will broadcast all Lobo games live with Robert Portnoy, the voice of the Lobos, providing the play-by-play.
Video: All the tournament games will be streamed live on the Mountain West Digital Network at TheMWC.com. Rich Cellini will call the play-by-play for each game while Paul Loeffler and David Lombardi will share the color analyst duties.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The No. 1 seed Lobos begin play in the Mountain West Tournament Thursday night at 8 (MT). They will face Air Force if they defeat San Diego St. Wednesday, or the winner of the Nevada-Fresno St. contest if the Falcons lose to the Aztecs.
UNM has won the last two tournament titles on the back of seven straight wins. The Lobos won four games in four days in 2011 and three in three days last year to claim their first ever MW Tournament titles. This season Ray Birmingham's squad has to be considered the favorite after going 25-5 in the regular season and winning the conference by a record seven games.
The Lobos currently lead the nation in batting (.338), slugging (.509), on base percentage (.426) and runs per game (8.6) so they can certainly hit their way to the title, but Birmingham knows the true key lies in pitching.
"This might be the second year we lead the nation in hitting," he said referring to 2009's team that hit .363, "but pitching and defense are going to carry us the rest of the way."
• SCOUTING THE MW ... The UNLV Rebels captured the second seed (and second first-round bye) courtesy of their 18-12 conference record. They were the only team to finish within 10 games of UNM. They were second in both hitting (.311) and pitching (4.28). San Diego St., which earned the No. 3 seed in the conference, led the league in ERA (4.07) and fielding percentage (.977). Some of the top hitters in the conference are UNLV’s Brandon Bayardi (.348, 10 HR, 48 RBI), Fresno St.’s Aaron Judge (.373, 11, 35), Nevada’s Austin Byler (.346, eight, 40), and Air Force’s Garrett Custons (.361, 22 doubles, 25 RBI). On the mound UNLV’s Buddy Borden led the MW with a 2.19 ERA and 8-1 record. SDSU’s Michael Cederoth struck out 97 batters in 86.0 innings. Nevada’s Braden Shipley, projected to be a top-10 pick in June’s MLB draft, was 7-3 with a 2.81 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 99.1 innings. Only three players, UNM’s Chase Harris, UNLV’s Mark Shannon, and Air Force’s Peter Johnson, did not make an error this season. Jake Romanski of San Diego St. was named a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award and threw out a league-high 25 attempted base stealers.
• ALL-CONFERENCE AWARDS ... For the second straight year, UNM had a dominating showing in the All-Mountain West awards. Like 2012, DJ Peterson and Mitch Garver were named Co-Players of the Year, only the second and third players to earn the honor in back-to-back years. (CJ Cron of Utah was named PoY in both 2010 and 2011.) Also like in 2012, Ray Birmingham was named Coach of the Year, becoming only the second coach (after UNLV’s and TCU’s Jim Schlossnagle) to win the award more than once. Freshman second baseman Sam Haggerty was named Co-Freshman of the Year with Fresno St.’s Blake Quinn. Pitchers Sam Wolff and Gabe Aguilar were named to the All-MW First Team (each of their first All-MW honor), and they were joined by Josh Melendez and Alex Allbritton, who were also on the first team in 2012. The six members of the first team matches an all-time high for UNM set just last season. Haggerty, Alex Real and Luke Campbell were all named to the All-MW Second Team, each’s player’s first honor.
• 10-FOR-10 AND SEVEN’S HEAVEN ... In 2013 the Lobos dominated in conference play. They won all 10 MW series to win the league by a record seven games. Additionally, they won a league-record 25 games, besting the 24 UNLV won in 2003.
• 1,500 GAMES AND COUNTING ... When the Lobos take the field for their first game of the MW Tournament on Thursday, May 23, head coach Ray Birmingham will coach his 1,500th collegiate game. He coached 126 in two seasons at College of the Southwest, 1,022 in 18 years at New Mexico Junior College, and 351 so far at UNM. He owns a career record of 1,019-478-2 in 26 years as a head coach.
• CAMPBELL NAMED POW ... Luke Campbell was named Mountain West Player of the Week following his 5-12 performance against SDSU in the final weekend of the regular season. He hit a grand slam in Thursday’s game and finished with five RBI. Friday he hit a seventh-inning, two-run home run to break a scoreless tie as UNM won 3-1. He added two more hits Saturday to extend his hitting streak to a career-long 14 games.
• 200 FOR BIRM ... UNM head coach Ray Birmingham won his 200th game as skipper of the Lobos with UNM’s 3-1 victory at SDSU on Friday, May 17. He became just the fourth coach in school history to achieve that feat.
• MOVIN’ ON UP ... UNM moved up to No. 13 spot in Baseball America’s rankings this week. That is the highest the team has ever been ranked by any publication. Prior to this season the highest ranking head coach Ray Birmingham’s squad had achieved was 18th on March 30, 2009.
• WALKER IS JUST A NAME ... In his complete-game shutout of Fresno St. on May 10, Josh Walker became the first Lobo in over three years to throw a complete game and not walk a single batter. Wily Kesler last accomplished the feat on April 25, 2010, at Air Force.
• GO DJ, THAT’S MY DJ ... It’s the end of the regular season and DJ Peterson has crept up the all-time UNM leaderboards. He now ranks second in doubles (76), third in total bases (473), fourth in both home runs (39) and slugging (.687), and fifth in RBI (193).
• WALKER EARNS WEEKLY HONOR ... Thanks to his dominating three-hit shutout over Fresno St. on Friday, May 10, Josh Walker was named MW Co-Pitcher of the Week. It was his first career weekly honor and he shared the award with Air Force’s Cameron White. Walker did not walk a batter, struck out six, faced just two over the minimum, retired the last 16 hitters he faced, and threw 80 of his 103 pitches for strikes. And that was all in his first start of the season.
• HIT PARADE (TAKE TWO) ... Josh Melendez matched Mitch Garver’s team-high 26-game hitting streak from March 24 through May 5. During that time he went 42-100 (.420) with 24 runs, 20 RBI, nine doubles, three triples, three home runs and 15 walks. He slugged .660 and reached base in half his plate appearances. The streak raised his average from .253 to .344. It tied for the sixth longest in school history.
• DOUBLE TROUBLE ... DJ Peterson is closing in on the school’s all-time doubles list with 76 after knocking a three-run double at SDSU on May 16. He is only two 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.
• MOUNTAIN WEST RECORD ... The Lobos extended their MW record winng streak in conference play to 14 games with wins against Fresno St. on May 10 & 11. The streak came to an end with a 9-8 loss to the Bulldogs on May 12. During the streak the Lobos outscored their opponents 142-61 during the streak and hit an astounding .382. They slugged .603 and held their opponents to a .273 batting average. TCU had 10-game MW winning streaks in 2011, 2010 and 2007, which were tied for the longest prior to UNM’s.
• HOTTER THAN SOUP ... On a team full of hot players, nobody is hotter than Luke Campbell. He had a streak of nine straight multi-hit games snapped Saturday, May 11 at Fresno St.. Over that span he went 19-for-38 (.500) with 14 runs, 10 RBI, seven doubles, two triples and a homer. He slugged .868 during that stretch and raised his batting average from .328 to .368.
• WOLFF ON FIRE ... Senior Sam Wolff has been seeing a lot of zeroes lately. Dating back to April 20 against Nevada, he has allowed only three runs, two earned, in his last 32.1 innings pitched. Included in this stretch was a career-best 14.2-inning scoreless streak. He lowered his ERA from 4.91 to 3.19 during that time while striking out 24 and walking just 10.
• 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 was moved to the back of the bullpen and was been an anchor as the Lobos’ closer. Then he moved back into the rotation May 10 against Fresno St. and threw a shutout in his first start. He is now 10-0 with seven saves on the season. He is one of only seven pitchers in the nation to be undefeated with nine or more wins. His career record of 18-3 gives him a winning percentage of .857, which is the highest in school history (min. 15 decisions). Also his seven saves this season are 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, and now he is has enjoyed more wins as a Lobo than any other player. When he was on the active roster in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013, the Lobos have won 147 games. That breaks the school record of 141 held by Walt Arnold and Mike Foote, who both played from 1977-80. Aguilar also has 62 appearances in his career, which is tied for sixth most in UNM history.
• 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 175 straight games over the past three seasons, including all 53 so far in 2013. That is believed to be the third longest active streak in the country.
• 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 275 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 198 of 472 innings this season for an OBP of .419. That is actually lower than the team’s overall OBP of .426, but is still a big reason the team leads the country averaging 8.6 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 (45 runs) and their opponents (41) have combined to score 86 runs.
• ... AND EXPECT RUNS LATE ... The highest scoring inning for UNM this season has been the eighth. The Lobos (72) and their opponents (42) have combined for 114 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 19)
Batting average (.338) 1st
Slugging (.509) 1st
OBP (.426) 1st
Hits (660) 1st
Doubles per game (2.58) 1st
Runs per game (8.6) 1st
Runs (454) 2nd
Triples (30) 2nd
Triples per game (.57) 2nd
Doubles (137) 3rd
Walks (264) 11th
Home runs (46) 17th
Home runs per game (.87) 17th
DJ Peterson (.400) 8th
Mitch Garver (.394) 15th
DJ Peterson (23) 6th
Doubles per game
DJ Peterson (.43) 5th
Sam Wolff (14) 14th
Mitch Garver (87) 9th
DJ Peterson (16) 6th
Home runs per game
DJ Peterson (.33) 3rd
DJ Peterson (.514) 2nd
DJ Peterson (67) 5th
Mitch Garver (60) 20th
RBI per game
DJ Peterson (1.37) 2nd
Mitch Garver (1.13) 16th
DJ Peterson (64) 4th
Runs per game
DJ Peterson (1.31) 2nd
Sam Haggerty (14) 17th
Alex Allbritton (8) 10th
DJ Peterson (.805) 2nd
DJ Peterson (157) 2nd
Mitch Garver (128) 18th
Sam Haggerty (45) 14th
DJ Peterson (43) 17th
Walks per game
DJ Peterson (.88) 9th
Josh Walker (10) 11th