UNM's Garver Named Johnny Bench Award Finalist, Again

June 4, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - In 2012 Mitch Garver had one of the greatest seasons a Lobo catcher has ever had. He was named an All-American and one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, which is given to the top amateur catcher in the nation.

It was going to be tough to beat that, but the Albuquerque native might have pulled it off. Now he has a chance to win the Johnny Bench Award after again being named one of three finalists.

"I might be a little biased, but I think he's the best catcher in the country," UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. "Last year he was runner-up and both those other guys (Florida's Mike Zunino and Purdue's Kevin Plawecki) are gone now. He has had the same kind of season this year, and I don't think there's another catcher in the country that can compare."

The numbers back him up. Garver is hitting .390 with 96 hits, which rank 16th and seventh in the nation, respectively, and are first among all catchers. His 68 RBI are tied for 8th overall and are second among backstops, as are his 21 doubles. Also, only three catchers have more triples than his five.

"It was a great honor to be named a finalist last season," he said, "but I really want to win it this year."

Earlier this season the senior set a new UNM record for consecutive starts. He started every game each of the last three seasons and ended his Lobo career with 181 straight. He also had a 26-game hitting streak, sixth longest at UNM, recorded at least one hit in all but six games this season, and failed to reach base in only three contests.

His work behind the plate was just as impressive. He made 52 assists and just two errors in 368 chances for a fielding percentage of .995. He also picked off four runners, including the potential go-ahead run at third base in the ninth inning of UNM's NCAA regional game against Columbia on June 1.

"He deserves to win this award," Birmingham said.

The other finalists are Zane Evans of Georgia Tech and Stuart Turner of Mississippi.

A final vote among the national voting committee will occur during the College World Series. All three finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 16th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 27.