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Lobos Return To Isotopes Park This Weekend After 18 Straight Road Games
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  05/11/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

May 11, 2004

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NEXT IN LOBO BASEBALL

Air Force (5-38, 0-19 MWC) at New Mexico (19-25-1, 15-9)

MAY 14-16 * ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. *ISOTOPES PARK (11,124)

SCHEDULE:

Friday, May 14 - 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 15 - 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 16 - 12 p.m.

MEDIA COVERAGE: All games will be broadcast on KDEF 1150 AM and www.GoLobos.com with Henry Tafoya, Dan Rivera and Mike Foote calling the action. Gametracker of all games available at www.GoLobos.com.

Gametracker for Friday's Game

Gametracker for Saturday's Game

Gametracker for Sunday's Game

SERIES INFORMATION: New Mexico leads, 81-35. The Lobos swept the Falcons April 16-18 in Colorado Springs.

PROMOTIONS/TICKETS: UNM and the American Cancer Society is presenting "Pen Pal Day" on Sunday. Over 20 classrooms in the Albuquerque area have participated in the program in which a Lobo player and a classroom write back-and-forth all season. First 500 students receive a free Lobo baseball wristband and there will be an autograph session after the game. All tickets for the weekend are $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for youth.

PROJECTED PITCHING ROTATION:

Friday: AF: #11 RH So. Paul Vignola (1-8, 11.52 ERA, 50.0 IP, 31 K, OBA - .416) vs. UNM: #28 RH Jr. Jason Fernandez (6-5, 4.56 ERA, 75.0 IP, 43 K, OBA - .295)

Saturday: AF: #37 RH Fr. Mitch Brown (0-5, 9.07 ERA, 40.2 IP, 30 K, OBA - .343) vs. UNM: #11 RH Jr. Karsten Gaarder (2-2, 5.19 ERA, 43.1 IP, 34 K, OBA - .263)

Sunday: AF: #23 RH So. Clayton Couch (2-5, 6.20 ERA, 53.2 IP, 33 K, OBA - .305) vs. UNM: #20 RH Jr. Cooper Eddy (4-4, 5.96 ERA, 68.0 IP, 43 K, OBA - .326)

STORYLINE: New Mexico (19-25-1) will look to stay right in the thick of the Mountain West race as it hosts Air Force this weekend (May 14-16) at Isotopes Park. With two weekends left in the regular season, the Lobos (15-9 Mountain West) and San Diego State (14-8 MWC) are both 1 1/2 games back of league-leader UNLV, who is atop the standings with a 16-7 mark. UNM hosts UNLV May 20-22 in the last series of the regular season.

After playing 18 consecutive games on the road, the Lobos finally return to the friendly confines of Isotopes Park this weekend. UNM has won four straight on its new home field, and swept BYU in its last home series, way back on the first weekend on April.

Joe Salas


New Mexico has won nine in a row over Air Force (5-38, 0-19 MWC) after sweeping the Falcons April 16-18 in Colorado Springs. In the second game of that series, UNM set a school and Mountain West record for runs in the 31-11 victory.

The series begins Friday night at 7 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. start on Saturday. Sunday's finale begins at 12 p.m. All games will be broadcast on KDEF 1150 AM and on www.GoLobos.com, and live stats will also be available at www.GoLobos.com.

QUICK LOOK AT THE LOBOS (19-25-1, 15-9 MWC): BYU took two of three games over New Mexico last weekend in Provo...New Mexico went 9-9 on its 18-game road swing...UNM last played at home April 3, a 10-8 win over BYU...the Lobos played five consecutive road series in conference play, going 9-6 during that stretch...the Lobos close the regular season with seven home games.

QUICK LOOK AT THE FALCONS (5-38, 0-19 MWC): Air Force lost five games at Utah last weekend...the Falcons last won on March 16, a 17-9 win over Northern Colorado...they are currently riding a 24-game losing streak.

A GLANCE AT THE MOUNTAIN WEST RACE: With two weekends to go, UNLV leads the Mountain West with a 16-7 record, 1 1/2 games ahead San Diego State (14-8) and New Mexico (15-9). BYU is in fourth (11-10), Utah in fifth (10-13) and Air Force in sixth (0-19).

The Lobos finish the conference season with home series against Air Force and UNLV. Other key series' in the MWC include: BYU at San Diego State (May 12-14), Utah at UNLV (May 14-16), and San Diego State at Utah (May 21-23).

The top two teams in the standings will receive a bye in the first round of the conference tournament held May 26-29 in Las Vegas. The No. 3 seed will play No. 6, and the No. 4 seed will play No. 5. The No. 1 team plays the winner of 4/5, and the No. 2 team plays the winner of 3/6 in the second round. The tournament is double elimination.

DON'T LEAVE FOR THE BALLPARK WITHOUT THEM - CAN'T MISS NOTES:

* In conference action, the Lobos lead the league in batting (.341) and homers (38)

* Coach Alday is 58-16 lifetime vs. Air Force - including a 31-3 mark at home

* Twenty-two of the Lobos' 45 games have come against teams with a winning record, and 16 of those games were against teams either ranked in the Top 25 or receiving votes in the national polls.

*The Lobos have won nine of their last 12 games at Isotopes Park and four in a row...after getting off to a tough start at "The Reactor" with a 0-7-1 record in the first eight games, UNM is now 9-10-1 all-time in its new home.

GET OUT THOSE BINOCULARS - LOBOS TO WATCH:

* Junior centerfielder and leadoff hitter Matt Young is the team's offensive spark. Young leads the team in runs (53) and on-base percentage (.451), and is sixth in the MWC in batting (.359). His eight triples rank sixth in the nation and lead the MWC. Young is also hitting a phenomenal .525 with runners in scoring position, which leads the Mountain West.

Matt Young


* Sophomore catcher A.J. Spitaleri leads the team with a .379 batting average and is hitting .442 (19-for-43) over his last 13 games with four homers and 11 RBI. He tallied three hits last weekend at BYU.

* Senior Joe Salas leads the team with nine homers and 46 RBI after batting .308 with a homer and four RBI at BYU.

NOTES FROM LAST WEEKEND'S BYU SERIES: BYU claimed two of three games over UNM in Provo last weekend...the Lobos did win the season series, 4-2...Jason Fernandez pitched seven innings in Thursday's 9-6 win, earning his team-leading sixth win of the season...Chris Dabbs went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a two-run homer...Matt Young also collected three hits...UNM could only manage six hits in Friday's 12-4 loss...Brandon Taylor went 4-for-6 with six RBI for BYU...Taylor also hit two homers in Saturday's 7-4 triumph.

MILESTONE WATCH:

*Matt Young needs seven more runs to become the fifth player in program history to collect 200 hits and 200 runs. His 128 walks are second best in the UNM record books.

*Joe Salas is three homers away from tying third all-time in the UNM record books. He is currently fourth with 35 home runs. He is also fifth at UNM in RBI (179) and fourth in doubles (62). On the mound, Salas needs four more saves to set the all-time mark at UNM - he currently has 10.

AROUND THE HORN -

OFFENSIVELY: The Lobos are batting .309 as a team (third in the MWC) and lead the league with 53 homers. In conference action, UNM leads the conference with a .341 batting average while averaging nine runs per game.

DEFENSIVELY: The Lobos have committed 60 errors for a .965 fielding percentage, which is tied for first in the MWC. The Lobos are second in the league in fielding double plays with 45.

PITCHING: Opponents are batting .297 against UNM pitching and have scored 319 runs (7.1 per game). UNM's staff ERA is 6.16 (fifth in the MWC) compared to opponents' 5.88, but its league ERA is 5.14, which is tops in the MWC. The starter's ERA is 5.78 compared to the bullpen's 6.78.

COMPLETE WEEKEND RECAP - NEW MEXICO AT BYU SERIES: The Lobos remained 1 1/2 games back of UNLV after falling in two of three games at BYU last weekend.

In the series opener, UNM defeated BYU, 9-6. Jason Fernandez earned his team-leading sixth win of the season by pitching seven innings and allowing six runs, although only two were earned. Offensively, the Lobos collected 12 hits, including three by Chris Dabbs, who went 3-for-4 with three runs a two-run homer.

UNM scored all nine of its runs in the first five innings. The Lobos jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on RBI singles by Josh Mader and Sean Murray. The Cougars got one back in the bottom of the inning, but Matt Young countered with an RBI single in the second. Young went 3-for-5 with two runs in the game.

Dabbs built the Lobo lead to 5-1 with a two-run shot in the third inning, his fourth homer of the season. BYU cut it close at 5-4 with three runs in the bottom of the third, although all of the runs were unearned. But that's as close as BYU would get, as New Mexico tacked on two runs in each the fourth and fifth innings..

Fernandez (6-5) struck out four, scattered 10 hits and didn't walk a single batter in defeating the Cougars for the second time this season. Petr Pacas pitched a scoreless eighth, while Salas closed the ninth for his fourth save of the season.

The New Mexico baseball team lost its first game of the season to BYU on Friday night, falling 12-4. BYU tallied 17 hits and scored 12 runs - although only six of them were earned. The Lobos scored the game's first run on a Joe Salas RBI double in the top of the first, but the Cougars then built a 7-1 lead after four innings.

New Mexico cut the margin to 7-4 after plating three runs in the fifth, but it couldn't cut the lead any closer. BYU tacked on two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth to pull away for the 12-4 win. The Lobos only managed six hits in the contest.

UNM lost in the series finale, 7-4. BYU led the entire game and built a 5-1 lead after three innings. Shortstop Brandon Taylor, who drove in six runs in Friday's game, hit his first homer of the afternoon in the first inning, a two-run shot. Kevin Bills delivered a two-run homer in the third and Taylor collected another RBI in the same frame to make it 5-1. Joe Salas hit his team-leading ninth homer of the season in the second.

Josh Mader brought in a run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly, but the Cougars came right back with solo runs in the fifth and sixth innings to go up 7-2. Taylor blasted his second long ball of the game in the fifth. For the game, he went 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBI.

Garrick Haymore nailed a two-run homer in the eighth, his third of the year, to make it 7-4. The Lobos couldn't manage another run, however, as Paul Jacinto closed the books on UNM with a perfect ninth.

PLAYER NOTES -

A GLANCE AT THE LOBO STARTING PITCHERS: The Lobos will throw conference regulars Jason Fernandez (Friday) and Cooper Eddy (Sunday) this weekend, while Karsten Gaarder will get his first conference start of the season on Saturday.

GM. 1 - Friday - 7 p.m. - #28 RH Jr. Jason Fernandez (6-5, 4.56 ERA)

* Hard-throwing right-hander will be making his 11th start of the season...has also made three appearances out of the bullpen

* Third on the team with a 4.56 ERA, which is sixth best in the MWC...leads team in innings pitched (75.0) and leads MWC in league games with 56.1 innings pitched

* Has tossed two complete games this season, both for victories (2/27 vs. Arkansas; 4/1 vs. BYU)

* In his last outing at BYU, he struck out four in seven solid innings to earn his team-leading sixth win of the season

* He is 5-3 with a 4.63 ERA in league play

GM. 2 - Saturday - 7 p.m. - #11 RH Jr. Karsten Gaarder (2-2, 5.19 ERA) * Starting his first conference game of the season * Has also started at Texas A&M (2/29) and at TCU (3/12) *?Picked up wins at UNLV (4/24) and San Diego State (5/2)

GM. 3 - Saturday - 12 p.m. - #20 RH Jr. Cooper Eddy (4-4, 5.96 ERA)

Cooper Eddy


* Powerful pitcher who throws in the low 90's and has an excellent slider

* Transfer from Tennessee Tech; threw his first year at Iowa Western Community College

* Threw seven innings and only allowed two runs, one earned, in victory at UNLV (4/25)

* Earned Mountain West Pitcher of the Week honors after firing a seven-hit complete game in win over UC Santa Barbara on March 7; he struck out seven and only walked one

* Threw seven innings of one-run, four-hit ball in win over Texas Tech (3/16) to earn MWC Pitcher of the Week honors for the second time this season

* He is 2-2 with a 7.07 ERA in league play

PUT ME IN COACH - YOUNG IN CENTER FIELD: Junior Matt Young is the starting center fielder this season for the Lobos after two years in left. Young, the team's leadoff hitter and offensive spark, is UNM's leader in runs (53) and on-base percentage (.451), and his eight triples are sixth best in the nation (0.19 per game). He is batting an impressive .525 (21-for-40) with runners in scoring position, which leads the Mountain West.

The fiery and competitive Young, who is hitting .359, is also moving up the career charts at New Mexico in his third year. He collected his 200th career hit in UNM's win over Utah April 9 and needs just seven runs to become the fifth player in school history to reach the 200-run and 200-hit plateau.

Young was named the Mountain West Player of the Week Feb. 23 after an impressive opening weekend at the Baseball Fiesta Tournament in which he went 6-for-11 with two triples, four RBI and six runs. He was also named to the Aggie Classic All-Tournament Team. In one of his best career performances at the plate, Young went 4-for-6 with a career-high six RBI in UNM's win over New Mexico State March 30, including a two-run homer.

A dynamic defensive player, Young owns a perfect fielding percentage and has made some spectacular plays in center field this season.

The Murphy, Texas, native put together a .466 on-base percentage and led the MWC in walks (54) and runs (76) in 2003 while batting .320. Young is second all-time in the UNM record books with 128 career walks and leads the MWC in league games with 23 free passes.

MADER RETURNS TO NATURAL POSITION: After playing two years at third base, junior Josh Mader finally returns to his natural position at shortstop this season following the departure of All-American Dusty Young. The Albuquerque native is once again putting up excellent numbers, ranking among the top 10 in the MWC in five offensive categories.

Mader, a two-time first-team All-MWC selection, polished his game over the summer playing shortstop in the Alaskan Summer Wooden Bat League. A lifetime .368 batter, Mader is fourth in the Mountain West with a .361 average.

He was named the MWC Player of the Week April 12 after batting .409 with three homers, and in UNM's win over Utah that same week, he went 3-for-5 with three runs and four RBI, including two homers in one inning.

CAPTAIN PROVING HIS WORTH: Senior right-fielder Sean Murray, one of two co-captains on this year's team, is batting .323 with 27 runs driven in. He is seventh in league play with 36 hits. A career .342 hitter, Murray has started at first base, left field and right field for the Lobos this season. An outstanding student off the field, Murray recently earned the prestigious Truman Scholarship at UNM for his 4.20 GPA in Mechanical Engineering.

BARBA SOLID AT SECOND: Sophomore Ryan Barba has put together another productive offensive season from second base, typically a non-power position. Barba is batting .329 with six homers and 31 RBI to go along with 35 runs. In league play, he batting .375.

Ryan Barba


Barba drove in five runs in one game for the third time in his career in the Air Force series, going 5-for-7 with a homer, five RBI and four runs on April 17. He tied his career high with a five RBI performance in UNM's 6-3 win over UCSB on March 7, blasting a grand slam in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and propel the Lobos to victory.

He earned all-tournament honors at the Aggie Classic with a .368 average in the six games. A native of Van Nuys, Calif., Barba earned the starting spot at second at the end of his freshman season with his strong bat (.366 BA).

SALAS DOES DOUBLE DUTY: Senior lefty Joe Salas has always possessed an explosive bat in his career at UNM, but this season he is also focusing on being the Lobo closer. He has four saves this season and 10 for his career, which is second all-time in New Mexico history. Salas, who also has two wins on the mound, has 43 strikeouts in 32 innings pitched. His 25 appearances are second in the Mountain West.

Offensively, he broke out last year with 16 homers and 56 RBI in addition to a .366 batting average to earn first-team All-MWC honors. The primary designated hitter in the lineup, Salas has nine homers and 46 RBI this season to lead the team in both categories.

The senior is climbing up the career charts at UNM, as he is fourth all-time in homers (35), fourth in doubles (62) and fifth in RBI (175). He tied a school and Mountain West record with four doubles at Air Force on April 17, a game in which he went 5-for-6 with five runs and three RBI.

FERNANDEZ PROVIDING CONSISTENCY ON THE MOUND: Right-hander Jason Fernandez leads the team with six victories on the mound this season and is 5-3 in MWC games. Fernandez leads the league in conference games with 56.1 innings pitched.

Jason Fernandez


The junior was named the MWC Pitcher of the Week March 1 after firing a six-hit complete game in UNM's 3-1 win over Arkansas Feb. 27. Fernandez limited the Razorbacks, who are currently ranked No. 12 in the nation, to one run and only eight base runners. He threw his second complete game in a win over BYU April 1.

STOVALL NAMED NATIONAL CO-HITTER OF THE WEEK: Freshman Daniel Stovall exploded for 12 hits, three homers, three doubles and seven RBI in the first Air Force series to earn the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association National Co-Hitter of the Week Award along with MWC Player of the Week honors on April 19. Overall, he is batting .314 with five homers and 19 RBI. He has started 30 games at first base after getting seven starts at third in the beginning of the year.

Stovall hit his first career homer Feb. 28 vs. Arkansas and followed it with another shot the same day against Texas A&M. Perhaps his biggest hit of the season came against BYU on April 3, as he broke an 8-8 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning with a two-out, bases-loaded single that drove in two runs in UNM's 10-8 win. Stovall's most explosive day at the plate was at Air Force on April 17, as he went 5-for-6 with five RBI, two homers and two runs scored.

Yabba, DABBA, Doo: Freshman right fielder Chris Dabbs leads the team with a .444 batting average in conference play. Dabbs drove in a season-high four RBI April 24 at UNLV to go along with three runs scored and a three-run homer. On May 6 at BYU, he went 3-for-4 with three runs and a two-run homer. The Spring Branch, Texas, native, who was also recruited by several schools (including Texas A&M and Oklahoma) to play football, is batting .351 in all games with four homers and 14 RBI.

EDDY NAMED MOUNTAIN WEST PITCHER OF THE WEEK...AGAIN: Junior right-hander Cooper Eddy has earned Mountain West Pitcher of the Week honors twice this season. Overall, he is 4-4 with a 5.96 ERA. In his last victory, Eddy threw seven strong innings at UNLV April 25, allowing two runs on six hits to pick up the victory.

On March 16, Eddy limited a powerful Texas Tech offense to one run on four hits in seven innings of work, and for his efforts, he earned his second MWC Pitcher of the Week accolade of the season. In his first win of the season against UCSB, Eddy fanned seven Gauchos and only allowed one walk in a seven-hit complete-game effort to earn Mountain West Pitcher of the Week honors March 8.

SPIT THIS: Sophomore catcher A.J. Spitaleri leads the team with a .379 batting average after batting .442 (19-for-43) over his last 13 games with four homers and 11 RBI. A.J. was on fire in the first Air Force series, batting 7-for-9 with five runs, two homers and three RBI in his two games of action. Spitaleri is batting .357 in his two years thus far at UNM. He tied a career high with four hits at San Diego State May 2, going 4-for-6 with two homers, three RBI and three runs scored. The native of Raytown, Mo., is hitting .407 in Mountain West games.

SCOUTING THE OPPONENT - AIR FORCE

Air Force enters the weekend on a 24-game losing streak and winless in Mountain West play. The Falcons, 5-38 overall, last won on March 16 against Northern Colorado. They lost five games at Utah last weekend.

Karl Bolt leads the team with a .321 average, while Nathan DeRohan is the team leader with four homers and 29 RBI to go along with a .301 average.

Clayton Couch, who will start on Sunday, is 2-5 with a 6.20 ERA to anchor the pitching staff.

HEAD COACH: Mike Hutcheon. Overall record: 244-178 (10th year). Record at AF: 5-38 (First year).

SERIES NOTES:

New Mexico leads, 78-35.

Last UNM win: New Mexico 18, Air Force 6 (April 18, 2004)

Last AF win: Air Force 11, New Mexico 9 (2002 @ Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Last UNM series win: 2004 in Colorado Springs (April 16-18, 2004, Sweep)

Last AF series win: 2002 in Colorado Springs (Sweep)

Last AF win in Albuquerque: 2002, Air Force 8, New Mexico 4

LOBOS VS. AIR FORCE: Several Lobos have fared well against Air Force, anchored by Joe Salas, who is 30-for-92 (.373) lifetime against the Falcons with six homers, 14 doubles and 29 RBI...Ryan Barba is batting .448 (13-for-29) in eight games against AF with a homer and seven RBI...A.J. Spitaleri is 10-for-18 with seven runs in just five games.

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