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Lobo Baseball Hosts Aggies In Midweek Series
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/08/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 8, 2010

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico Lobo baseball team hosts the New Mexico State Aggies in a two-game midweek series on March 9-10. The Lobos (8-4) will face the Aggies (9-6) for the 226th and 227th time in series history. First pitch will be at 3 p.m. MT for both games. The game will be broadcast statewide on 101.7 FM (KQTM) The TEAM. Lobo football and men's basketball play-by-play annoucer Scott Galetti will call the action live from Isotopes Park.

The Lobos host Louisiana Tech for a four-game series on March 12-14. The game on Sunday will be broadcast live on 101.7 FM The TEAM.

SCOUTING NEW MEXICO STATE

The Aggies are currently 9-6 on the season and were blown out on Sunday by Saint Joseph's, 35-16 despite hitting five home runs.

• The Aggies are led at the plate by senior Christopher Auten, who is hitting .423 with nine doubles and two home runs. Auten was 3-for-7 with two RBIs against the Lobos last week.

• New Mexico State is hitting .367 as a team.

• New Mexico State's top pitcher is junior right-hander Dan Reid, who has an ERA of 3.12 in 17.1 innings pitched. Reid is 2-0 on the season in three starts.

• The Lobos will likely face sophomore right-hander Justin Cooper on Tuesday and Reid on Wednesday. Cooper is 1-0 on the season with a 3.75 ERA in 12 innings pitched. Cooper has 16 strikeouts to just three walks.

• As a staff, New Mexico State has a 6.85 ERA.

• The two-game series in Albuquerque will be the first road games of the season for the Aggies.

SERIES HISTORY

The Lobos hold a 149-76 series advantage over their rivals from down south. The Lobos and Aggies split last week's series in Las Cruces. New Mexico won game one on March 2, 9-6. New Mexico State returned the favor and beat the Lobos 17-8 on March 3.

RIO GRANDE RIVALRY

There is a lot more at stake than just bragging rights this Tuesday and Wednesday. The Lobos and Aggies will play for one and a half Rio Grande Rivalry points. New Mexico has already put the contest out of reach for New Mexico State and holds a commanding 15.75-6.75 lead over the Aggies. The Lobos have secured the trophy for the third straight year and have yet to see it move from its spot in Vice-President for Athletics Paul Krebs' display case since the inception of the contest.

897 AND COUNTING

Lobo baseball head coach Ray Birmingham earned his 897th career victory in a 16-7 decision over USC on March 7. Birmingham has a chance to get win No. 900 at home with a nine-game homestand on tap for the Lobos over the next two weeks.

HOWARD LEADING THE WAY

Senior Justin Howard went 13-for-23 hitting, .565 in five games against New Mexico State and USC. The Ennis, Texas native knocked in seven RBIs and had four doubles on the week. He had a career high for hits (5) and RBIs (5) in Sunday's 16-7 win over the Trojans. Howard now leads the Lobos in batting average with an incredible .471 and in RBIs with 15.

JARAMILLO SHUTS DOWN TROJANS

Sophomore left-hander Rudy Jaramillo picked up his first win of the season, scattering five hits over eight innings to lead the Lobos to a 3-2 victory over USC on March 5. Jaramillo gave up two runs on three hits in the first inning but only allowed two hits over the next seven innings to thwart the Trojan attack. Jaramillo struck out one batter.

LOBOS IN THE NATIONAL POLLS

The Lobos are ranked 22nd in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, 27th in Ping!baseball's top-30 poll and are receiving votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top-30 poll and the USA Today Coaches top-25 Poll.

This is the earliest a Lobo baseball team has been ranked and only the third season in school history. Last season, the Lobos were ranked No. 21 on March 23 by Baseball America and moved as high as 18th. The Lobos first broke the top-25 and were ranked as high as No. 14 in 1985 by Baseball America.

The lobos are also ranked No. 31 in boydsworld.com's RPI index.

TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST STATISTICS (As of March 4)

The Lobos are second in the Mountain West Conference with a .354 batting average and lead the league with 24 doubles. The Lobo pitching staff is third in the conference with a 4.28 ERA strikeouts (67) and opponent's on-base percentage (.273).

Several Lobos are ranked in the top-10 in MWC batting average. Senior Chris Juarez is hitting .457 (3rd), junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda has a .447 clip (4th) and senior Justin Howard is hitting .471 (8th). Neda is tied for first in the league with 17 hits and is tied for fourth in RBIs with 10. Howard is ranked seventh with nine RBIs. Sophomore Ben Woodchick is tied for the MWC with five doubles. Juarez's four doubles on the season place him in a tie for third in the MWC rankings. Senior Cameron Smith's and Neda's two home runs are tied for fourth.

The pitching staff is just as impressive in the MWC rankings. Three Lobo pitchers are ranked in the top-10 in the MWC. Junior Kenny Toves is sixth with a 1.64 ERA. Senior Edwin Carl's 2.45 ERA ranks him ninth and sophomore Mike Lachapelle's 2.70 ERA is good for 10th. Carl is tied for first in the league with eight batters stuck out looking.

On defense, Howard leads the league with 71 putouts and in fielding percentage (1.000).

YOUNG GUNS

The underclassmen on the team keep coming up with veteran plays. Freshman Mitchell Garver came up big on Feb. 26, in a 7-5 win over Northern Colorado. Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Garver was at the plate with the bases loaded and went opposite field down the right field line for a bases-clearing triple to put the Lobos on top, 6-5. Garver got his first career start at catcher in the second game of the Feb. 27 doubleheader with Northern Colorado.

Freshman Alex Allbritton is fifth on the team in batting average at a .326 clip and has started all 12 games at third base. Freshman John Michael Twichell has made the most out of his appearances going 4-for-9 from the plate hitting, .444.

Freshman Bobby Mares picked up the first win of his collegiate career in a 13-5 win over Northern Colorado on Feb. 28. Mares pitched 5.0 innings giving up two runs on three hits.

NEW MEXICO BOYS GETTING THE JOB DONE

New Mexico natives Mitchell Garver (Albuquerque), Gera Sanchez (Las Cruces), Austin House (Albuquerque) and Edwin Carl (Carlsbad) all had a hand in taking three of four from Northern Colorado on Feb. 26-28. Garver got a clutch bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the eighth on Feb. 26 in a 7-5 come-from-behind win. Sanchez came on in the bottom of the eighth in a Feb. 27, 5-2 game one win. Sanchez gave up one hit and shut the Bears down over the last two frames to earn the first win of his Division I career. Carl picked up his first win of the season pitching 2.2 scoreless innings, striking out four of the 12 batters he faced in the Feb. 26 7-5 win. House picked up the first save of his collegiate career in that game as well.

LOBO BASEBALL ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH 101.7 THE TEAM

The University of New Mexico baseball team and Lobo Sports Properties are proud to announce 101.7 The TEAM (KQTM FM) as its radio partner for the 2010 season. For the first time in program history, Lobo baseball will be featured on FM radio. The TEAM will carry 30 games from Isotopes Park and on the road.

Calling the action for Lobo home games will be Lobo football and men's basketball play-by-play announcer Scott Galetti. Galetti has covered Lobo athletics for the last two years and previously called baseball for Long Beach State University and the High Desert Mavericks, the single-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

Of the 30 games to be broadcast on 101.7 The TEAM, 16 will be from the friendly confines of Isotopes Park. The broadcasts will feature key home series with in-state rival New Mexico State (March 9-10), Louisiana Tech (March 14), Utah (March 19-21), San Diego State (March 26-28), BYU (April 8-10), San Francisco (April 20) and TCU (May 7-9).

Fans also will be able to follow the Lobos on the road. Series with San Diego State (April 30-May 2), Utah (May 20-22) and the Mountain West Tournament from San Diego, Calif. (May 25-29) also will be available.

HARVESTING NEW MEXICO TALENT

Of the 33 rostered Lobo baseball players, 11 are from the Land of Enchantment. Oscar Almeida (Albuquerque) Devon Conley (Rio Rancho), Mitchell Garver (Albuquerque), Daniel Gonzalez (Mesquite), Austin House (Albuquerque, N.M.), Kenny Toves (Carlsbad), Edwin Carl (Farmington), Gera Sanchez (Las Cruces), Steven Florez (Mesilla), Cody Volker (Albuquerque) and Ryan Honeycutt (Las Cruces,) are all played their high school ball in New Mexico.

ALL-AMERICAN CANDIDATE Rafael Neda NAMED TO JOHNNY BENCH AWARD WATCH LIST

University of New Mexico junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda has been named to the 2010 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award delivered by Papa John's Pizza Watch List. Neda is one of 53 catchers up for the prestigious award given to the nation's top catcher. Neda is currently hitting .400 on the season with 10 RBIs, two home runs and two doubles.

Neda was selected for more than his ability behind the plate. The junior from Obregon, Sonora, Mexico is involved in community service projects including, Power Pals at Kirtland Elementary School, where Lobo baseball players adopt a child to read to once a week and Toys-for-Tots where UNM students provided needy children with gifts at Christmas.

Neda also participated in the La Familia Holiday Party where he helped serve food and signed autographs for children. He also took part in a free camp put on by Lobo baseball for children of U.S. soldiers serving in the military. Neda also helped with the UNM Back Pack Drive, where UNM student-athletes helped fill and distribute backpacks with school supplies to children in need.

The field will be narrowed down to ten semifinalists to be announced on May 19. The finalists will be announced June 2 with the winner being announced at the 13th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on July 1.

LOBOS PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE

The University of New Mexico Lobo baseball team was picked to finish second in the Mountain West Conference Preseason Poll. TCU was picked to finish first and received all 10 first-place votes. San Diego State and Utah, 2009 NCAA Regional qualifiers, were picked third and fourth, respectively. BYU was picked to finish fifth, UNLV sixth and Air Force seventh.

In each of the last two seasons New Mexico has finished above its predicted finish in the preseason poll. New Mexico was picked fifth in the 2009 preseason poll and finished second for the second straight year. In 2008 the Lobos were picked to finish fourth in the conference and ended the season in second place.

THREE LOBOS NAMED PRESEASON ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE

Senior Max Willett, junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda and junior Ryan Honeycutt were selected to the All-MWC Preseason Team. The Lobos and San Diego State landed the most players on the All-MWC team with three each.

THE SCHEDULE

Head coach Ray Birmingham and his staff have put together one of the toughest schedules in school history for the 2010 season. The Lobos play three teams ranked in Baseball America's preseason top-25, two College World Series participants and five NCAA Regional participants. New Mexico took on preseason No. 1 Texas on Feb. 19-21 and will play preseason No. 17 Arkansas on April 13-14 and preseason No. 11 and favorite to win the MWC regular season championship TCU on May 7-9.

NEDA NAMED PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN

Junior catcher Rafael Neda has been named to the Louisville Slugger, Ping!baseball and Pro-Line Athletic Preseason All-American teams. Neda hit .415 last season with seven home runs and 49 RBIs. For the second straight season, Neda was named to the 2009 All-MWC team. Born in Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, Neda will be the anchor of the defense and a true leader on the team.

THREE LOBOS NAMED TEAM CAPTAINS

Seniors Max Willett and Adam Courcha and junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda were selected by their teammates as captains for the 2010 season. Willett is serving his second term as captain and along with Neda are the lone two returning All-MWC performers. Courcha is the definition of a utility player. Over his three-year career he has played viturally every position and will play third base this season.
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