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Baseball Looks To Move Up MWC Standings With Three-Game Series At Air Force
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/14/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 14, 2004

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NEXT IN LOBO BASEBALL:

New Mexico (12-19-1, 8-4 MWC) at Air Force (5-27, 0-8)

APRIL 16-18 *COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. *FALCON FIELD (1,000)

SCHEDULE (TIMES LISTED):

Friday, April 16 - 2 p.m.
Saturday, April 17 - 1 p.m.
Sunday, April 18 - 12 p.m.

MEDIA COVERAGE: Live audio available at www.AirForceSports.com for Saturday and Sunday's games. A phone broadcast is also available free of charge. For more information, visit Phone Broadcasts via Teamline

Gametracker for all games available at www.AirForceSports.com and www.GoLobos.com.

Gametracker for Friday's Game

Gametracker for Saturday's Game

Gametracker for Sunday's Game

SERIES INFORMATION: The Lobos lead the all-time series, 78-35. UNM won all six games last year over the Falcons.

PROJECTED PITCHING ROTATION:

Friday: UNM: #28 RH Jr. Jason Fernanez (4-3, 4.22 ERA, 49.0 IP, 28 K, OBA - .269) vs. AF: #23 RH So. Clayton Couch (2-2, 3.69 ERA, 31.2 IP, 23 K, OBA - .244)

Saturday: UNM: #2 LH Fr. Danny Ray Herrera (2-4, 4.34 ERA, 47.2 IP, 26 K, OBA - .270) vs. AF: #28 RH So. Kyle DePierre (0-1, 8.05 ERA, 19.0 IP, 9 K, OBA - .282)

Sunday: UNM: TBA vs. AF: #37 RH Fr. Mitch Brown (0-3, 8.16 ERA, 28.2 IP, 25 K, OBA - .333)

STORYLINE: New Mexico, currently in third place in the Mountain West with an 8-4 mark, will look to move up the standings this weekend with a three-game series at Air Force. The series opens Friday at 2 p.m., followed by Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m. The Falcons enter the weekend with a 5-27 record, 0-8 in the MWC. They fell at No. 18 Oklahoma on Tuesday, 16-2.

The Lobos (12-19-1) took two of three games at Utah last weekend. UNM won on Thursday, 15-4, and on Friday, 7-4, before falling on Saturday, 10-2. San Diego State is atop the conference with an 8-2 record, while UNLV is in second at 9-3.

NOTES FROM THE UTAH SERIES: The Lobos took two of three games at Utah last weekend...New Mexico won the season series over Utah, 4-2...the Lobos crushed the Utes, 15-4, in the opener behind 16 hits...Josh Mader went 3-for-5 with three runs and four RBI, including two homers in the UNM nine-run third inning...he batted .462 in the series with a 1.077 slugging percentage...freshman Matt Foote had a season-high four RBI in the opener...Ryan Barba collected three hits and two runs in the opener at hit .545 in the series...Jason Fernandez threw seven innings in the 15-4 win, defeating the Utes for the second time this season...UNM won game two of the series, 7-4 in 11 innings, for its first extra-inning victory of the season...Barba hit a solo homer in the top of the 11th and Mader and Salas added RBI doubles in the inning...Salas threw the final three innings, striking out six, to pick up the win...the Utes claimed the series finale, 10-2, on Saturday afternoon.

Jason Fernandez is fifth in the MWC with a 4.22 ERA.


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

* The Lobos have won six of their last nine games and five out of their last six Mountain West games...their season-best four-game winning streak was snapped April 5 at No. 13 Nebraska

* Eighteen of the Lobos' first 32 games have come against teams with a winning record, and 12 of those games were against teams either ranked in the Top 25 or receiving votes in the national polls. As of April 12, Texas A&M is ranked No. 13 in the country, Nebraska is ranked 19th and Arkansas is at No. 21. UNM's schedule is currently rated the 42nd-toughest in the nation.

*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.

* After playing 11 of 15 games at home in March, the Lobos will play only three of their 15 games in April at home...the Lobos do not play at home until May 14...UNM is in the midst of an 18-game road swing...the April 20 home game vs. Texas Tech set for 6 p.m. at Isotopes Park has been cancelled and will not be made up.

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 (36) and on-base percentage (.446), and is second in batting (.370). He is batting .419 in his last 10 games with 12 RBI. His seven triples this season already establish a career high and is tied for second in the nation.

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Matt Young is second in the nation in triples.
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* Junior shortstop Josh Mader, the team's No. 3 hitter, leads the team in batting (.375, fourth in Mountain West) and RBI (29). Mader hit two home runs in one inning in UNM's 15-4 bashing of Utah on April 8. He is batting .409 in his last 10 games with three homers and 12 RBI. He was named the Mountain West Player of the Week April 12.

* Senior Joe Salas has been a run-producing machine at the plate over his last 10 games, driving in 17 runs with four homers, including a grand slam in UNM's 17-13 win over New Mexico State on March 30. He is batting .378 during that span, and is second on the team with 27 RBI overall.

MILESTONE WATCH:

*Matt Young collected his 200th career hit in Friday's 7-4 win over Utah. He now has 202 for his career. He is also 11 walks away from being second all-time in the UNM record books (currently: 115) and 13 away from being fifth all-time in runs (currently: 176).

*Joe Salas is eight homers away from tying third all-time in the UNM record books. He is currently fourth with 30 dingers. He is also 10 away from being fifth all-time in RBI (currently: 160).

WEEKEND UPDATE - UTAH SERIES RECAP: New Mexico claimed two of three games in Salt Lake City last weekend (April 8-10) to remain in third place in the league standings.

Josh Mader went 3-for-5 with three runs and four RBI and homered twice in the nine-run Lobo third inning as the New Mexico baseball team crushed Utah, 15-4, in the series opener on Thursday.

The Lobos pounded out 16 hits in the win, keyed by a nine-run third inning on seven hits. Mader, the second batter of the inning, hit a solo shot to left-center to start the onslaught. Joe Salas then scored on a double by Sean Murray, and Jeff Grady hit a sacrifice fly to plate Murray. Freshman Matt Foote, who went 2-for-4 with a season-high four RBI in the game, knocked in his first two runs on a double. Ryan Barba also added a run-scoring single. Then, with runners on first and third, Mader hit his second homer of the inning, a three-run blast to left field.

UNM plated four more runs in the fourth inning to go up 15-0. Foote drove in two more runs on a single, Young hit his league-leading seventh triple to bring in a run, and Barba again hit an RBI single. Barba went 3-for-5 in the contest with two runs and two RBI. Salas, Murray, Foote and Daniel Stovall all collected two hits.

Jason Fernandez (4-3) threw seven innings to pick up his fourth win of the year, scattering seven hits while allowing three runs. Jason Price of Utah fell to 2-5 for the season.

On Friday, New Mexico scored three runs in the top of the 11th inning to pull out a 7-4 win for its fifth straight MWC victory.

With the score knotted at 4 in the 11th, sophomore second baseman Barba cracked his fourth homer of the season, a solo shot to right field, to give the Lobos a 5-4 lead. UNM added insurance runs on run-scoring doubles by Mader and Salas, putting the Lobos up 7-4.

Salas, who entered as a reliever in the ninth after starting as the DH, struck out two batters in the bottom of the 11th and retired the Utes in order to earn his second win of the season. Salas (2-1) struck out six batters in his three innings while only allowing one hit. He also went 3-for-5 at the plate with three RBI.

UNM took an early 1-0 lead in the first on a Salas RBI single. Utah tied it in the second, but the Lobos went ahead 3-1 on another Salas RBI hit and a Sean Murray groundout in the third.

After the Utes scored a run in the fifth, Barba hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth to put New Mexico back up two runs at 4-2. Barba went 2-for-4 in the game with two RBI.

Utah tied the game at 4 in the bottom of the sixth on a two-run Ryan Khoury homer.

The Lobos collected 14 hits in the contest, including three off the bat of freshman third baseman Jay Russell and two from Matt Young and Daniel Stovall.

Freshman Danny Ray Herrera threw six solid innings in the start for UNM, scattering nine hits and three strikeouts on four runs, three earned.

In the series finale Saturday afternoon, UNM fell to Utah, 10-2. Utah used a six-run fourth inning to pull away from the Lobos in building an 8-1 lead. Eric Chevalier and Matt Ciaramella each hit two-run homers in the inning for the Utes.

UNM could only manage six hits off of Ute starter Ben Buck, who fired a complete game for his first win of the season (1-1). Young and Mader each collected two hits while Murray and Ryan Barba tallied one.

ON DECK: The Lobos travel to Las Vegas to take on UNLV for a three-game series April 23-25.

AROUND THE HORN -

OFFENSIVELY: The Lobos, traditionally a powerful offense force, are starting to heat up at the plate after struggling in the first portion of the season. UNM is batting .330 with 80 runs (8.0 per game) and 122 hits (12.2 per game) in its last 10 games, including a season-high 17 runs vs. New Mexico State March 30. Overall, the Lobos are batting .295 with 26 homers and 193 runs (6.03 per game). In conference play, UNM is hitting .325 as a team.

DEFENSIVELY: The Lobos have commited 46 errors for a .962 fielding percentage (opponents - 41 E, .967 pct.), which is tied for second in the Mountain West. The Lobos are tied for first in the league in fielding double plays.

PITCHING: Opponents are batting .291 against UNM pitching and have scored 232 runs (7.25 per game). UNM's staff ERA is 6.29 (fifth in the MWC) compared to opponents' 4.93. The staggering difference is the walk-to-strikeout ratio (UNM - 158 BB, 208 K; Opponents - 91 BB, 206 K). The starter's ERA is 5.63 compared to the bullpen's 7.36.

PLAYER NOTES -

A GLANCE AT THE LOBO STARTING PITCHERS: Two of the three Lobo starting pitchers have been determined, while Sunday's starter will be decided later in the week. Jason Fernandez and Danny Ray Herrera will start Friday and Saturday's games, respectively.

GM. 1 - Friday - 2 p.m. - #28 RH Jr. Jason Fernandez (4-3, 4.22 ERA)

* Hard-throwing right-hander will be making his seventh start of the season...has also made three appearances out of the bullpen...second on team with a 4.22 ERA, which is fifth best in the MWC...leads team in innings pitched (49.0) and leads MWC in league games with 30.1 innings pitched...has tossed two complete games this season, both for victories (2/27 vs. Arkansas; 4/1 vs. BYU).

GM. 2 - Saturday - 1 p.m. - #2 LH Fr. Danny Ray Herrera (2-4, 4.34 ERA)

* Keeps hitters off balance with off-speed pitches, including an excellent changeup...seventh in the MWC with a 4.34 ERA...impressive in his first four starts against top-notch competition (Nebraska, Texas A&M and UC Santa Barbara, TCU)...picked up first collegiate victory with win over San Diego State (3/27)...retired his first 18 batters in six perfect innings in victory over BYU (4/2)...in front of over 7,000 fans at Olsen Field against Texas A&M on Feb. 27, he threw seven innings, struck out five, and didn't allow an earned run (two unearned) in a tough loss.

GM. 3 - Sunday - 12 p.m. - TBA

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 (36) and on-base percentage (.446), and his seven triples are second best in the nation (0.22 per game).

The fiery and competitive Young, who is batting .370, is hitting .419 with 12 RBI in his last 10 games and collected his 200th career hit in UNM's win over Utah April 9. He 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.

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. Young was also named to the Aggie Classic All-Tournament Team.

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 third all-time in the UNM record books with 115 career walks and leads the MWC in league games with 10 walks.

MADER FOURTH IN THE MWC IN BATTING: 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 six offensive categories.

Mader, a 2003 first-team All-MWC selection, polished his game over the summer playing shortstop in the Alaskan Summer Wooden Bat League. A lifetime .372 batter, Mader leads the team with a .375 batting average (fourth in Mountain West) and 29 RBI. Mader was named the MWC Player of the Week April 12 after batting .409 with three homers and 10 RBI. In UNM's win over Utah April 8, he went 3-for-5 with three runs and four RBI, including two homers in one inning. He is hitting .429 with 16 RBI in Mountain West games.

CAPTAIN PROVING HIS WORTH: Senior right-fielder Sean Murray, one of two co-captains on this year's team, is fourth on the team with a .320 average and 20 RBI. A career .344 hitter, Murray has started at first base, left field and right field for the Lobos this season. Murray is batting .357 in MWC games and ranks fifth with 20 hits.

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 .317 with four homers and 18 RBI to go along with six doubles, and his three homers in conference play are tied for second best.

He tied his career high with a five RBI performance in UNM's 6-3 win over UCSB on March 7. Barba hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, breaking a 2-2 tie to propel the Lobos to victory. His fourth homer of the season came in the top of the 11th inning at Utah, a solo shot that propelled UNM to a 7-4 win.

Barba is also second on the team in runs with 24. 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 SPELLS R-E-L-I-E-F: Senior lefty Joe Salas has always possessed an explosive bat in his career at UNM, but this season he is focusing more on being the Lobo closer. He has three saves this season and nine for his career, which is tied for third all-time in New Mexico history. Salas, who also has two wins on the mound, leads the team with 38 strikeouts in only 27 innings pitched. His 19 appearances are first in the Mountain West, and his 2.45 ERA in league play is second in the MWC.

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 four homers and 27 RBI this season.

Joe Salas is fourth all-time at UNM with 30 career home runs.


The Albuquerque native is starting to heat up in his last games as a Lobo, batting .378 with three homers and 17 RBI in the last 10 games. He is fourth all-time in the UNM record books with 30 home runs.

FERNANDEZ PROVIDING CONSISTENCY ON THE MOUND: Right-hander Jason Fernandez leads the team with four victories on the mound this season. He is 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in his last two starts and is 3-1 with a 4.15 ERA in league play. Fernandez leads the league in conference games with 30.1 innings pitched.

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. Fernadez limited the Razorbacks, who are currently ranked No. 21, to one run and only eight base runners. He threw his second complete game in a win over BYU April 1, and in his last outing, he fired seven innings to take the victory over Utah April 8.

HOT BAT AT THE HOT CORNER: Freshman Daniel Stovall is batting .302 with two homers and eight RBI this season. He has started 18 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. The powerful hitter also blasted two doubles in his first collegiate start vs. No. 23 Nebraska. 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.

Yabba, DABBA, Doo: Freshman right fielder Chris Dabbs leads the team with a .444 batting average in conference play. Dabbs collected a season-high three hits at New Mexico State March 24, then followed that with a 2-for-5 effort vs. San Diego State March 27, including his second homer of the season and a season-high three runs. The Spring Branch, Texas, native, who was also recruited by several schools (including Texas A&M and Oklahoma) to play football, is batting .294 in all games.

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.

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 is third on the team in hitting with a .327 average and also has three RBI. A.J. was on fire at the plate in the UCSB series, collecting five hits in seven at-bats (.714) with three runs and an RBI. Spitaleri is batting .335 in his two years thus far at UNM.

SCOUTING THE OPPONENT - AIR FORCE (5-27, 0-8 MWC)

Air Force enters the weekend with a 5-27 record after falling at No. 18 Oklahoma on Tuesday, 16-2. The Falcons are winless in league play at 0-8 and have not won since March 16 against Northern Colorado.

Offensively, Karl Bolt leads the team with a .333 batting average. Nathan DeRohan is the team leader in homers with three and RBI with 20 to go along with a .304 average.

Clayton Couch is the team's best pitcher, but has been sidelined in his last two starts due to an injury. He is 2-2 with a 3.69 ERA (third in the Mountain West) in 31.2 innings this season.

HEAD COACH: Mike Hutcheon. Overall record: 244-167 (10th year). Record at AF: 5-27.

SERIES NOTES: New Mexico leads, 78-35. The Lobos swept the six-game series last season.

UNM Streak: Won six

Last meeting: New Mexico 19, Air Force 6 (May 4, 2003 at Colorado Springs)

Last AF win: Air Force 11, New Mexico 9 (2002)

Coach Alday vs. AF: 55-16 (Home: 31-3; Away: 23-13; Neutral: 1-0)

LOBOS VS. AIR FORCE: Several Lobos have outstanding numbers against Air Force. Sean Murray has a .462 average against the Falcons...In 18 games, Joe Salas has four homers, 22 RBI and 22 runs for a .373 average vs. Air Force.

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