Lobos' Strong Start Leads To First Winning Season Since 2003
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  06/16/2006
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

June 16, 2006

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2006 NEW MEXICO BASEBALL RECAP: The 2006 baseball season could have turned out better for the Lobos but New Mexico fans had to be happy with the team's performance, which was visibly greater than the previous two years.

Ending a 23-game losing streak to the University of Arizona just two weeks into the season gave the Lobos a huge lift in momentum, sending them on a season-high eight-game win streak. Then the Lobos pounded 12th-ranked Oregon State, winning 13-2 as junior lefty Danny Ray Herrera struck out a career-high nine batters, including five in the first two innings.

UNM stumbled slightly over the next two weeks, losing its first home series of the season to San Francisco. Then at the Mountain West Conference Preseason Tournament in San Diego, Calif., the team dropped three straight after getting a huge 3-2 win over host San Diego State in extra innings.

Taking a break from collegiate action, the Lobos played the Albuquerque Isotopes in an exhibition game on April 4. The Lobos scored first but the Isotopes scored more thanks to a five-run third innings that lifted them to a 6-2 win. Junior center fielder Matt Foote and junior designated hitter Chris Carlson made a lasting impression, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored and 2-for-3 with a RBI, respectively.

The great outing against the Isotopes revived the Lobos spirits heading back into MWC action. The Lobos won the next eight of nine conference games, sweeping Air Force and Utah. With just a month left in the season, UNM was sitting at 27-13 overall and second place in the MWC race.

But things took a drastic turn for the worse after that as the Lobos went on a two seven-game losing streaks, winning just one of their final 16 games to end the season. Their position in the MWC dropped, leaving them 28-27 overall and 10-12 in the MWC, giving them a fifth seed heading to the tournament in Las Vegas.

The Lobos kicked off the MWC Tournament with a convincing upset of fourth-seeded host UNLV, downing the Rebels 17-2. Eventual tournament champion TCU defeated the Lobos, sending them into the loser's bracket where they held on for a win over Utah. The way the bracket was set up turned out unfair for New Mexico, pitting a rematch between the Lobos and Rebels of UNLV. The unfair part was that the game was the fourth of the tournament and second of the day for UNM while it was just the third game of the tourney for UNLV. The Lobos put forth every effort to win but fell just shy, ending their season with a 30-29 record, giving them their first winning season since 2003.

Early-season success is not the only thing the team and fans can look back on with fond memories. Herrera was the quintessential underdog who beat the odds, posting a perfect 10-0 record with a 2.24 ERA while standing just 5 feet and 7 inches off the ground and weighing in at roughly 145 pounds. Even more astonishing was that he accomplished all of this predominantly in Albuquerque with an elevation over 5,000 feet. Herrera was rewarded for his season performance with a spot on the Louisville Slugger All-America second-team, the all-MWC first team and the MWC all-tournament team. He was named MWC Co-Pitcher of the Year and was one of 10 finalists for CSTV's National Player of the Year honor.

Carlson also gave Albuquerque something to talk about. He earned a spot on the Louisville Slugger All-America first team, ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America first team, all-MWC first team and the MWC all-tournament team. He pounded out 21 home runs with 79 RBI for the season, hitting .366. Carlson ranked sixth in the nation in RBI per game, 10th in home runs per game and 17th in slugging percentage.

Next season could be even better for the Lobos, who only lose five seniors (shortstop Ryan Barba, outfielder Brandon Bingham and pitchers Darren Coltrinari, Nate Melek and Jesse Perez. It is likely that they will also lose Carlson, who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 29th round but should return eight of nine starters and 12 pitchers, including Herrera. The coaching staff has also signed 17 talented athletes for next year, including three who were also picked in the draft.

Louisville Slugger All-America
Chris Carlson, DH/UT - first team
Danny Ray Herrera, P - second team

ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America
Chris Carlson, DH/UT - first team

ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District VI
Chris Carlson, DH/UT - first team
Ian Hollick, 3b - first team

CSTV's Baseball Player of the Year - Finalist
Danny Ray Herrera, P

Mountain West Conf. All-Tournament team
Chris Carlson, DH/UT
Danny Ray Herrera, P

Mountain West Conference first team
Jordan Pacheco, 2B
Ian Hollick, 3B
Chris Carlson, DH
Danny Ray Herrera, P

Mountain West Conf. second team
Daniel Stovall, 1B

MWC Co-Pitcher of the Year
Danny Ray Herrera

Louisville Slugger Player of the Week
Chris Carlson - April 17

MWC Player of the Week
Matt Foote - Feb. 20
Daniel Stovall - Mar. 6
Chris Carlson - April 17
Ryan Barba - April 24

MWC Pitcher of the Week
Danny Ray Herrera - Feb. 27
Danny Ray Herrera - Mar. 13

Preseason Louisville Slugger All-Americans
Chris Carlson, DH
Jordan Pacheco, 2B

Preseason All-MWC team
Chris Carlson, DH
Jordan Pacheco, 2B

Collegiate Baseball's Projected MWC Player of the Year
Jordan Pacheco, 2B

2006 Wallace Watch List
Jordan Pacheco, 2B

Double Plays Per Game - 1st - 1.27
Scoring - 7th - 8.6
Slugging Percentage - 10th - .499
Batting Average - 15th - .324
Doubles Per Game - 22nd - 2.2

Jordan Pacheco - Scoring - 3rd
Chris Carlson - RBI - 6th
Chris Carlson - Home Runs Per Game - 10th
Daniel Stovall - RBI - 12th
Daniel Stovall - Doubles Per Game - 13th
Chris Carlson - Slugging Percentage - 17th

IN THE NATION: Once again, the Lobos are one of the best teams in the nation statistically. Through June 14, New Mexico leads the nation in double plays, turning 75 total for a 1.27 per game average. The Lobos are seventh in runs per game, averaging 8.6. UNM is also ranked in slugging percentage (.499, 10th), batting average (.324, 15th), home runs per game (1.18, 18th) and doubles per game (2.2, 22nd).

Individually, the Lobos are thriving as well. Junior first baseman/designated hitter Chris Carlson is ranked in the most categories for New Mexico. Carlson is sixth in RBI (1.34 pg), 10th in home runs (0.36 pg) and 17th in slugging percentage (.711). Junior first baseman/designated hitter Daniel Stovall makes the list in two spots, 12th in RBI (1.27 pg) and 13th in doubles (0.42 pg). Sophomore second baseman Jordan Pacheco also appears, ranking third in the nation in runs per game (1.34).

Head coach Rich Alday has continuously placed his team in the top-10 nationally in at least one category. This is the first year since 2003 that the Lobos have led the nation in a statistic, taking the crown for doubles that season. This season unfortunately ended the Lobos' four-year streak of ranking in the top-11 in batting average.

THE BEST IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST: As a team, the Lobos ranked No. 1 in the Mountain West Conference in 12 different categories. They had the best batting average (.324), slugging percentage (.499) and on base percentage (.406) and the most runs scored (507), hits (696), RBI (471), doubles (130), total bases (1,071), times hit by a pitch (71), times grounded into a double play (50), most assists (732) and most double plays turned (75).

Individually, the Lobos claim the top spot in 14 statistical categories. Junior first baseman/designated hitter Daniel Stovall leads the most with five, holding the top spot in doubles (25), at bats (266), double plays ground into (9), putouts (483) and double plays turned (57). Junior designated hitter/first baseman Chris Carlson holds four No. 1s while junior lefty Danny Ray Herrera holds three. Carlson leads the MWC in RBI (79), home runs (21), total bases (167) and sac flies (10) while Herrera leads in ERA (2.24), innings pitched (128.1) and games started (17). Sophomore second baseman Jordan Pacheco led the MWC in runs (79) and senior shortstop Ryan Barba topped the MWC in assists with 202.

UNM also led the MWC in single-game team highs, cranking out nine doubles vs. Northern Colorado on March 5 and turning four double plays vs. New Mexico State on Feb. 21. Individually, junior center fielder Matt Foote stole a game-high four bases vs. NMSU on Feb. 21 and Pacheco was hit three times in a single game on Feb. 28 vs. the Aggies.

A SEASON OF RECORDS: As a team, the 2006 Lobos produced some of the best numbers in the program's history. Their .969 fielding percentage is the best season percentage ever, topping 2004's .967. Their 71 batters hit by a pitch and their 524.2 innings pitched are the second most ever with the record held by the 2003 team. The team racked up 2,147 at bats, 471 RBI and 399 strikeouts, the fourth most of an season. Their 696 hits was the fifth most recorded.

Several team performances made the single-game record list too. UNM cranked out nine doubles on March 5 vs. Northern Colorado, the second most in a single game ever. They blasted six home runs in one game on April 13 vs. Air Force, tying the third most and hit five vs. Air Force on April 14 and at Texas Tech on April 11. The team's 25 RBI vs. Air Force on the 14th is sixth most and their 25 hits and 26 runs on the 14th vs. AFA ties for the eighth most in a single game. The team played a 12-inning game vs. BYU on March 31, 2006, marking the sixth longest game ever. Overall, they played nine extra-inning games, the most of a season.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR WATCH: Junior Danny Ray Herrera is one of 10 finalists in the CSTV Player of the Year race. Currently Herrera, who is one of seven pitchers on the list, is in seventh place with 19 votes thanks to one first place vote. Keep track of the race on the Lobos' official website: www.GoLobos.com.

GOING OUT SWINGING: Seven Lobos ended the season with multi-game hit streaks in tact. Sophomore Ian Hollick had the longest at nine games while junior Chris Carlson was right behind with an eight-game streak. Senior Ryan Barba ended his career with a six-game hit streak, a season high. Junior Matt Foote hit in five consecutive games to end the season while Jordan Pacheco hit in three straight. Junior Jay Russell and freshman Zach Arnett hit in both games on May 25 for a two-game streak.

TWO (OR MORE) FOR THE SHOW: Of the 19 Lobos who had at least one at bat this season, 13 had at least two multiple-hit games and 13 also produced multiple-RBI games. Overall, the team had 131 two-hit, 48 three-hit, 16 four-hit and two five-hit games for a total of 197 multi-hit games. The Lobos had 58 two-RBI, 31 three-RBI, 16 four-RBI and 10 five-RBI games for a total of 115.

Sophomore Jordan Pacheco and junior Chris Carlson produced a team-high 26 multi-hit games. Pacheco's comprised of 16 two-hit games, six three-hit games and four four-hit games while Carlson pounded out 17 two-hit games, seven three-hit games, one four-hit game and one of the team's two five-hit games. Junior Daniel Stovall, who had 23 multi-hit games, was the other Lobo to have five hits in a single game.

Carlson also led the team in multi-RBI games with 21. He produced a team-high nine two-RBI games and three five-RBI games. Stovall, who had 20 multi-RBI games, led the team in four-RBI games with five. Sophomore Ian Hollick, recording 14 multi-RBI games, had a team-high seven three-RBI games.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: With senior Ryan Barba at shortstop, sophomore Jordan Pacheco at second base and junior Daniel Stovall at first, New Mexico opponents have run into trouble against arguably the best infield in the MWC and quite possibly the nation.The Lobos' 75 double plays fielded are more than any other MWC school's production with UNLV's 60 the next closest. Not to mention Stovall leads the conference in most double plays turned with 57. Pacheco and Barba are right on his heels, with 55 and 52, respectively.

KEYS TO SUCCESS: In order for New Mexico to win, they need to score early and score often, at least according to the statistics. The Lobos are 0-7 when scoring less than three runs and they are 0-23 when trailing after seven or eight innings. On the flip side, they are 15-3 when scoring 10 or more runs and 27-4 when leading after seven innings and 25-1 when leading after eight innings.

The Lobos are 12-19 when an opponent scores first and 8-14 when their opponent scores in the first inning. But, they are 12-10 when they score in the first and 18-10 when they score first. The Lobos are also 22-2 when they out-hit their opponents but 6-25 when they are outhit.

STEADY STARTERS: The Lobos relied heavily on their starting rotation for innings and wins. The starters, 22-15 with a 5.83 ERA, threw 343.0 innings with 227 strikeouts. The bullpen, 8-14 with a 9.02 ERA, tossed 181.2 innings with 96 strikeouts.

BULLPEN BY COMMITTEE: Head coach Rich Alday used 13 different Lobos in relief this season. Junior Damon Miller made the most appearances (22), getting two wins with a team-high 18 strikeouts in 32.1 innings. Miller had three losses with a 8.35 ERA. Freshman Chad Itokazu, who had 16 stirkeouts from the bullpen in 25.2 innings, was 3-5 with a 8.42 ERA in 20 appearances. Freshman Chace Lankford posted the lowest ERA from the bullpen, going 2-1 with a 3.77 ERA in nine appearances. Freshman Jordan Salazar produced the second best ERA in the pen at 4.76 in 17 innings (10 appearances) with 12 strikeouts.

Lankford, Miller, Itokazu and junior Quentin Andes all have wins out of the bullpen while Miller (3), Lankford (2) and Salazar (1) all have at least one save.

REWRITING THE RECORDBOOKS: In just his third season at UNM, junior Danny Ray Herrera started etching his name throughout the program's season and career recordbooks. In the season books, he tied the best win percentage (1.000) in a single season, going 10-0. His 128.1 innings pitched was the second most ever in a single season and tied for the second most stars and wins in a single season. In the career book, Herrera moved up to third in starts (44) and needs just four next season to break the record, fourth in wins (22) and needs just six to break the record, fourth in innings (294.0) and needs just 172/3 to break the record and fifth in strikeouts (222) and needs 135 to set that record.

Junior Chris Carlson left his name in the recordbooks before leaving the program for a professional career. He set a new career record for slugging percentage (.736) and placed fifth in the career book for batting average (.380) and home runs (36). In the season book, his 21 home runs from the 2006 season places him third.

Also in the career book, junior Daniel Stovall moved into a three-way tie for fifth in doubles (60) and needs just 10 next season to set a new record.

Also in the season book, Stovall's 266 at bats ranked the third most in the program's history. Sophomore Jordan Pacheco's 79 runs scored placed fourth while junior Matt Foote's 18 hit by pitches was the second most ever in a single season.

DRAFT DAY: Three Lobos were selected on the second and final day of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Junior Chris Carlson (Topeka, Kan./Kansas State) was the first Lobo selected, drafted in the 29th round (No. 862 overall) by the Detroit Tigers. Senior Nate Melek (Minnetonka, Minn./Oklahoma State) was selected in the 43th round (No. 1,289 overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays and junior Danny Ray Herrera (Odessa, Texas/Permian HS) was taken by the Texas Rangers in the 45th round (No. 1,345 overall). As of June 15, Carlson and Melek had signed with the clubs, ending their collegiate careers.

The Lobos have had at least one player selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft 13 of the last 14 straight years. The trio are the 32nd, 33rd and 34th athletes selected in head coach Rich Alday's 17-year tenure.

ANOTHER ALL-AMERICAN FOR ALDAY: Junior designated hitter Chris Carlson and left-handed junior Danny Ray Herrera were named to the Louisville Slugger NCAA Division I All-American baseball first and second teams, respectively, announced by "Collegiate Baseball" newspaper. The 17-man first team, chosen by performances up to regional playoffs and picked by the staff of "Collegiate Baseball" newspaper.

This is the sixth time in school history the New Mexico baseball program has produced two All-Americans in the same season and the first time in back-to-back seasons. The Lobos also had two All-Americans in 1980 (Duffy Ryan, Keith Hagman), 1985 (Jim Fregosi, Dean Duane), 1993 (Luke Ogelsby, Mark Gulseth), 2003 (Chris Alexander, Dusty Young) and 2005 (Carlson and Jordan Pacheco). Carlson and Herrera are the 11th and 12th All-Americans in UNM head coach Rich Alday's tenure.

CARLSON NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN: Junior designated hitter Chris Carlson was honored of the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America first team announced this morning by the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA). This is his second nomination to the All-America team, placing on the second team last season.

The Topeka, Kan. native maintained a 3.69 GPA in General Management while performing exceptionally on the field. He finished the 2006 season with a .366 batting average, 63 runs scored, 79 RBI and 21 home runs. Carlson ranks nationally in home runs (15th) and RBI (24th). He started all 59 games for UNM, seeing limited time at first base. He was also named to the All-MWC first team and the MWC All-Tournament team

LOBOS LAST TIME OUT: The Lobos looked like a rejuvenated team at the MWC Championships, hitting .397 with 41 runs on 62 hits in just four games. They had a chance to win every game but the pitching just couldn't hold out, producing a 9.53 ERA with 18 strikeouts and nine walks in 34 innings.

The Lobos snapped a eight-game losing streak to the Rebels and a seven-game losing streak overall, pounding on UNLV for a 17-2 win. New Mexico rallied from a 1-0 deficit to take the lead in the second, scoring four unearned runs on four UNLV errors and never looked back. Junior Chris Carlson went 5-for-6 with four runs scored and seven RBI. He set career highs in hits and RBI and tied his career high in runs scored and home runs in a single game. Junior Matt Foote went 4-for-6 with three RBI and two runs scored, tying his career high for hits in a game. Junior Danny Ray Herrera improved to 10-0 with the win, going 7 innings for five hits, one run, one walk and seven strikeouts. Freshman Jordan Salazar threw 2 innings of relief, allowing three hits and one run with three strikeouts in 2 innings.

Top-seeded TCU sent fifth-seeded New Mexico to the loser's bracket with a 18-6 win in game seven the following day. The loss, the Lobos seventh straight to TCU, came after UNM took a 5-4 lead to the bottom of the fourth. But the MWC champions fired back, putting six runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth en route to the win.

The Lobos stayed alive Thursday afternoon with a 12-10 win over Utah in the loser's bracket. UNM held a 12-7 lead heading into the ninth but the Utes refused to go quietly. Junior Daniel Stovall led the Lobos, going 4-for-6 with a RBI and a run scored. Sophomore Jordan Pacheco, senior Ryan Barba, Carlson and junior Chris Dabbs all collected three hits with Barba and Carlson scoring a team-high three runs. Carlson and Foote drove in a team-high two runs.

In an unbalanced bracket, the Lobos played their fourth game of the tournament and second of the day on Thursday evening. Up against UNLV , which was only on its third game of the tourney, the Lobos gave it their all but were just to drained, falling 8-6. The Lobos held a 6-5 lead heading through 51/2 innings. But UNLV's Zach Borba tied the game with his first home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth. One inning later, Barba broke to cover second, expecting a throw from freshman pitcher Brandon Hewett but he went to the plate, giving Chris Bonnell enough room to sneak a single back through the left side for the go-ahead run.

MWC ALL-TOURNEY HONORS: Juniors Chris Carlson and Danny Ray Herrera were named to the Mountain West Conference All-Tournament team for their performance at the MWC Championship last week in Las Vegas.

Carlson, a designated hitter, hit a team-high .667 (12-for-18) with eight runs scored and 11 RBI. He also had two home runs and three doubles. Carlson tied the MWC Championship record for most RBI in a single game with seven in the Lobos first game vs. UNLV, going 5-for-6 with seven RBI and four runs scored.

Herrera, one of three pitchers, two of which were left-handed, produced a team-low 1.29 ERA, allowing just one run, five hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in 7 innings vs. UNLV on May 23. Herrera was relieved after seven with the Lobos ahead 9-1.