April 2, 2009
#18 Lobo Baseball (25-5, 5-1)
Games #31-33 at #22 TCU
Friday, April 3 5:30 p.m. (MDT)
Saturday, April 4 3 p.m. (MDT)
Sunday, April 5 12 p.m. (MDT)
Isotopes Park Albuquerque, N.M.
Live Stats: Link available on GoLobos.com.
Against #22 TCU (16-9, 3-3 MWC): TCU leads the series with the Lobos, 26-11 with a 13-8 advantage in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs are currently ranked No. 22 in Baseball America. TCU beat Texas-Arlington, 2-1 with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday night to improve to 16-9 on the season.
Up Next: UNM remains out on the road for five more games at Utah at Arizona before returning to Isotopes Park.
LOBO BASEBALL QUICK HITS
Step 1 - National Recognition (Check) ... The Lobos moved up three spots to No. 18 in the March 30 Baseball America poll. In 1985, the last time the Lobos cracked the Top 25 in the Baseball America, they climbed as high as No. 14. This week's Lobos national rankings are:
Baseball America - 18
Collegiate Baseball - 20
USA Today/ESPN Coaches - 24
National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) - Receiving votes
Ping! Baseball - 22
Rivals.com - 20
First Meeting of MWC Nationally-Ranked Teams ... This weekend's series with TCU is the first Mountain West Conference series in league history between two nationally-ranked teams. It is also the first week that the league has had three teams ranked in the Baseball America Top 25.
Lobos Add A Game ... New Mexico picked up one more road game in May to fill out the 56-game regular season schedule. UNM will extend its stay in Northern California with a single game at West Coast Conference member St. Mary's on Monday, May 11. Game time in Moraga, Calif. is set for 1 p.m. (MDT).
Step 2 ... Win A Conference Championship (Work In Progress) ... Quick Notes About The Lobos (25-5, 5-1 MWC) ... The Lobos are off to their best start in program history at 25-5, passing the 1973 program that began the season 23-5 ... For the first time since 1985, the University of New Mexico baseball team cracked the national polls on March 23, entering the Baseball America poll at No. 21 ... New Mexico was featured in March 19th's Baseball America Weekend Preview for the Stat of the Week - 1.29 triples per game. A big jump from 0.42 in 2008 ... While the outfield has seen a variety of lineups in the Lobos first 19 games, the infield has remained a constant. Kevin Atkinson (1B), Mike Brownstein (2B), Daniel Gonzalez (SS), and Dane Hamilton (3B) have started every game in the infield. Gonzalez was the last Lobo to play every inning of defense at the same position for UNM. Gonzalez got his first break on March 6 in the 8th inning against Binghamton ... UNM played in the friendly confines of Isotopes Park for 25 of its first 30 games of the 2009 season, that included six consecutive weekends ... After April 1, the Lobos will only be in Albuquerque for 6 of their last 26 regular season games.
Step 3 ... Earn Bid To NCAA Tournament (Work In Progress) ... There are several components involved with earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament, something the Lobos are trying to do for the first time since 1962 ... First, wins are important. There isn't a conversation about the NCAAs if the W's are not starting to pile up. UNM is doing well there at 25-5, third in the nation in winning percentage ... Next, strength of schedule. According to nationally-recognized baseball website, Boydsworld.com, the Lobos were sitting at 145 on the old SOS ranking. That is about to pick up as the Lobos head deeper into MWC play (TCU - 2; San Diego State - 14; BYU - 24; Utah - 29) and have non-conference series remaining with Arizona (44), Nebraska (22), Stanford (6) and St. Mary's (58) ... And don't forget about that pesky RPI ranking. The NCAA's official RPI will not be released until later in the season, but Boyd's World continues to be one of the closest to what the NCAA will release. Going into Thursday, April 2, the Lobos are sitting at 48 after being as high as 28 going into the Northwestern series.
Current 2009 RPI (Final 2008 UNM NCAA RPI - 66, up from 167)
2009 NCAA - first release later in the season
Boyd's World - 48 (MWC - 6)
WarrenNolan.com - 49 (MWC - 6)
Ping Baseball - first release in April
Lobos In The Official NCAA Stats Rankings ... The NCAA releases its national stats rankings by Tuesday afternoons each week. This week for games played through Sunday, March 29, the Cherry and Silver is all over the top 25 team rankings and top 50 player rankings. New Mexico leads the nation in batting average, hits, triples per game and triples. The Lobos are second in scoring and runs.
Individually, sophomore outfielder Ryan Honeycutt is third in the nation in batting average at a .534 clip, followed by senior Kevin Atkinson in ninth at .470. Seniors Mike Brownstein, Atkinson and Dane Hamilton lead the nation, 1-2-4, in hits with 55, 54 and 50. Hamilton is fourth the nation in doubles, while Brownstein and Brian Cavazos-Galvez are 1-2 in triples with 8 and 7.
Kesler Makes Return ... Redshirt junior Willy Kesler made his first start of the season on Wednesday, April 1, against Texas Tech. The Thornton, Colo. native threw for three inning, giving up just two runs and a walk in his second outing of the season. Kesler returned to the mound for the first time on Sunday, March 22, just 10 months after successful Tommy John surgery. Kesler faced three batters in the sixth inning against Northwestern before giving way to freshman Gabe Aguilar. Kesler was one of the Lobos top pitchers in 2008 with a 4-0 record and 1.90 ERA.
White has made 14 appearances and the last Lobos holding onto a 0.00 ERA. The junior from Blossom, Texas, gave up his first earned runs of the season on April 1 on his way to his third save in three attempts in a five-game span. White now holds an 0.78 ERA in 23.0 innings of work, giving up eight hits and 16 walks, while striking out 29. He picked up his first two saves of the season in the BYU series.
Senior roommates Grubbs and Cox have the Lobos' other five saves. Grubbs, from Reno, Nev., holds a 0.61 ERA with a 1-0 record and a save. He has only walked one batter and struck out 14 in 14.2 innings. Cox, a candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award, leads the team with 4 saves in 10 appearances.
Patience Is A Virtue ... and it pays at the plate. Senior Dane Hamilton has had 23 free passes by virtue of 14 walks and 9 hit by pitch through the first 30 games of the season. Hamilton's season-high for walks in his three previous years as a Lobo was 14 in 2008 and his career total was 33 coming into the 2009 season.
10 Or Better ... Well UNM picked up right where they left off in 2008. Lobo fans are watching the scoreboard, not just for the score, but for the hits column as well. Why? In the Ray Birmingham era, UNM is 54-11 when they get at least 10 hits in a game. Just 5-19 when they don't get to 10. The Lobos' season-high is 31 against Binghamton in the first game of the March 7 doubleheader. The 2008 game-high was 28 hits against Air Force on April 12, 2008 in Farmington. If the Lobos also reach 10 runs in a 10+ hits game, they are 33-2.