May 19, 2010
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico Lobo baseball team travels to Salt Lake City, Utah to take on the Utah Utes this Thursday-Saturday, May 20-22. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. MT on Thursday and Friday. The Lobos and Utes will play at 1 p.m. MT on Saturday. The Lobos (34-17, 13-7 MWC) are currently coming off a three-game sweep of Delaware State this past weeekend. The Utes (21-25, 9-12) took two of three from UNLV in Las Vegas on May 13-15. All three games will be broadcast on 101.7 The TEAM.
The Lobos are currently in second place in the Mountain West Conference and look to lock up the No. 2 seed in the 2010 MWC Tournament on May 25-29. The Lobos are one game ahead of UNLV and one win for New Mexico and a Rebel loss in their series to San Diego State will guarantee the Lobos the No.2 seed and a first-round bye.
SCOUTING UTAH The Utes are 21-25 on the season, have lost eight of their last 10 and are 7-8 at home.
Utah is coached by Bill Kinneberg, who is in his seventh year coaching the Utes with a 176-201 (.467) record. Coach Kinneberg has been a head coach for 15 years has an overall record of 421-384 (.523).
The Utes return 10 players with starting experience, 20 letterwinners and seven starting pitchers from last year's squad.
Utah is led at the plate by sophomore catcher C.J. Cron, who is ranked No. 23 in the nation and second in the MWC hitting .426 on the season. Cron has 14 doubles and leads the MWC in home runs with 17.
The Utes are hitting .303 as a team.
Utah is led on the mound by junior right-handed pitcher Rick Anton, who is 6-3 on the season and has an ERA of 5.03. Anton is ranked sixth in the conference with 63 strikeouts and seventh in opposing batting average (.282).
Utah has a 5.11 ERA as a staff and is ranked second in the MWC.
The Lobos will likely face senior right-hander Jordan Whatcott on Thursday, Anton on Friday and freshman Brock Duke on Saturday. Whatcott is 4-8 on the season with a 6.00 ERA. Whatcott is just outside the top-10 in the MWC with 50 strikeouts and is tied for eighth with 19 batters struckout looking. Duke is 0-2 on the season with a 7.07 in 19 relief appereances. Duke is slated to make his first start of the season against the Lobos on Saturday.
SERIES HISTORYThe Lobos hold a 82-50 series advantage over the Utes. Utah gained two games on the Lobos earlier this season by taking two of three from the Lobos in Albuquerque on March 19-21. The Lobos are 27-19 in Salt Lake City.
IN THE NATIONAL STATS RANKINGS (as of May 18)As a team the Lobos are ranked fifth in the nation with a .355 batting average, fifth with 673 hits and tied for fourth with 148 doubles. The Lobos are tied for 28th in the nation with 19 triples on the season.
SENIOR Justin Howard LEADS THE NATION IN HITTINGSenior Justin Howard is the current statistical leader in the NCAA for batting average (.466) and hits (108). and is ranked third in doubles with 27. Howard moved into second place all-time at UNM for hits in a single-season with hit No. 107 on Sunday, May 16 against Delaware State. Howard went 12-for-14 (.857) on the weekend and wrapped up a new milestone almost every at-bat. The Ennis, Texas native became the first player in Division I to reach 100 hits this season in Saturday with his third hit of the day on May 15. On May 16, in his fourth at-bat of the day, Howard doubled to left-center field for hit No. 107. Howard added hit No. 108 with a single to the pitcher in his last at-bat of the day.
HOWARD NAMED MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEKUniversity of New Mexico senior Justin Howard has been named Mountain West Conference Co-Player of the Week as announced by the conference office. Howard had a phenomenal weekend going 12-for-14 (.857) with four doubles, two stolen bases and 11 RBIs. Howard also scored six runs in the series. In Saturday's 19-2 victory, Howard collected his 100th hit of the season and became the first player in Division I baseball to reach the 100-hit mark this season.
LEADERS OF THE PACKSenior Justin Howard leads the Lobos in batting average at a .466 clip. Howard also leads the team in on-base percentage (.513), RBIs (67), doubles (27), runs scored (70) and hits (108). Senior Chris Juarez is hitting .420 with 10 doubles and 30 RBIs. Junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda is hitting .386 on the season and is second on the team in RBIs (60).
The Lobo pitching staff is led by senior Willy Kesler, who has a 3.35 ERA, is 6-1 on the season, leads the team in strikeouts with 73 and has three complete games. Junior Kenny Toves is 5-2 with a 3.92 ERA. Junior Richard Olson is 4-3 on the season and is second on the team with 48 strikeouts.
TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST STATISTICSThe Lobos lead the Mountain West Conference with a .355 batting average and doubles with 148. New Mexico also leads in hits (673), runs batted (419), runs (449)and strikeout less than any team in the league. The Lobo pitching staff is third in the conference with a 5.48 ERA and in strikeouts with 359.
Several Lobo hitters are making their presence known in the MWC rankings. Senior Justin Howard is on top of the Mountain West standings in batting average at a .466 clip. Howard also ranks first in runs scored (70), hits (108), doubles (27) and is ranked second in RBIs (67). Senior Chris Juarez is third in the conference with a .420 batting average and is tied for eighth in the league with 73 hits. Junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda is fifth in the MWC with a .386 batting average, third with 60 RBIs, ranked third with 22 doubles, tied for 10th with 10 home runs and is ranked sixth with 76 hits.
The pitching staff is just as impressive in the MWC rankings. Senior Willy Kesler is ranked third in the conference with a 3.35 ERA and is ranked fourth in the conference with 78 strikeouts. Junior Kenny Toves is ranked seventh with a 3.92 ERA. Sophomore Gera Sanchez is tied for second in the league in saves with five.
On defense, Howard is ranked second in putouts with 472.
LOBOS IN THE NATIONAL POLLSThe Lobos are receiving votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top-30 poll and the USA Today Coaches top-25 poll.
The Lobos also are ranked No. 38 in the NCAA's latest RPI rankings (May 18). The Lobos are the second-highest ranked Mountain West team. No. 20 TCU and No. 94 BYU are the other MWC representatives in the top-100. New Mexico has two victories over No. 5 Texas, No. 63 USC, No. 90 New Mexico State and one win over No. 20 TCU and No. 50 Texas Tech.