June 11, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - There were many accomplishments for the University of New Mexico baseball team in 2013. The Lobos won the Mountain West by a record seven games with a conference-record 25 wins. They advanced to their fourth straight regional. They had a school-record seven players drafted, including the highest pick in UNM history: DJ Peterson selected 12th overall by the Seattle Mariners. They had two first team All-Americans for the first time ever, and they also had a Freshman All-America selection in Sam Haggerty.
One thing that should not be overlooked is the fact that UNM will lead the nation in team batting average for the second time in five years. The Lobos hit .334 this season and the next closest team was Kansas St. at .322. The only other school within 15 points of the Lobos was Georgia St. at .321.
In fact, the Lobos are so far ahead that LSU, which just advanced to the College World Series and is hitting .308 as a team, would need 91 straight hits to pass UNM.
That's not happening.
The Lobos had three players rank among the top 25 hitters in the nation: DJ Peterson (.408, fourth), Mitch Garver (.390, 14th) and Luke Campbell (.385, 23rd). Four other Lobo starters hit .312 or better: Josh Melendez (.329), Chase Harris (.321), Alex Real (.317) and Alex Allbritton (.312). Logan Lippert, John Pustay and Erik Suarez also combined to hit .373 (28-for-75) coming off the bench as seven different Lobos set a new career-high batting average in 2013, and at one point this season, every single Lobo in the starting lineup was hitting over .300.
It's no surprise, then, that the Lobos finished second in hits with 724, behind only CWS participant North Carolina, and the Tar Heels played eight more games than did UNM. Garver's 96 hits led all catchers and put him ninth overall, while Peterson 89 hits and ranked 20th in the NCAA.
And when players got hot, you needed to watch out. Both Garver and Melendez had 26-game hitting streaks this season, which tied for sixth longest in school history. Campbell finished the season on a career-long 20-game hitting streak, which included an astounding 16 multi-hit games.
And lest anyone accuse UNM of just dinking and dunking, be aware the Lobos also lead the nation in slugging at .504 and scoring at 8.3 runs per game. They are the only team in the nation that averaged more than eight runs each game.
They finished second in doubles with 149, only two behind the national leader, but they averaged more doubles per game than any other team. Peterson ranked sixth in the nation with 25 and Garver had 21 to place 25th.
UNM reached base at a .422 clip, again tops in the country. Peterson led the charge with an NCAA best .520 on base percentage.
It's a testament to head coach Ray Birmingham, who works primarily with the hitters. It is the second time in five years UNM has won the national batting crown after the 2009 squad hit a school-record .363 with five players batting over .400 during the regular season. The Lobos finished fifth in the nation in batting last season, and Justin Howard won the individual batting title in 2010 with a .456 average.
If you're keeping track at home, in Birmingham's six years he has guided UNM to two batting crowns, another top-five finish and an individual champion. He's certainly not a one-hit wonder.