April 5, 2006
UP NEXT FOR THE LOBOS: New Mexico, 18-10 overall and 1-2 in the Mountain West Conference, return to San Diego State for the second consecutive weekend. The Lobos will play the Aztecs in a three-game series starting Friday night at 6 p.m. at Tony Gwynn Stadium. The teams will play two matinees, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, both at 1 p.m. PT. CSTV's Gametracker is available at UNM's official athletic website, www.GoLobos.com.
Friday night's opener should pit right-handed senior Nate Melek (3-3, 5.19 ERA) vs. righty Justin Masterson (2-5, 3.95 ERA). Junior south paw Danny Ray Herrera (5-0, 1.51 ERA) is slated to pitch against righty Bruce Billings (1-2, 4.58 ERA) on Saturday. Neither team has announced a pitcher for Sunday.
NEW MEXICO VS. SAN DIEGO STATE, THE SERIES: The Lobos and the Aztecs met seven times in 2005 with SDSU winning four, including the match-up at the Mountain West Conference Tournament in Salt Lake City. Over the seven games, New Mexico scored 54 runs on 77 hits while San Diego State scored 72 runs on 83 hits. Below are some series notes:
SCOUTING THE AZTECS: San Diego State, 9-24 overall, is hitting just .272 with a 6.86 ERA. However, the Aztecs are 3-1 vs. the members of the Mountain West Conference with their sole loss coming at the hands of the Lobos in extra innings to open the conference's preseason tournament. Against the MWC teams, they aren't hitting much better (.287), but their ERA more than makes up for it, allowing just 3.96 earned runs per contest.
Offensively, Paul Smyth leads San Diego State in hitting (.363 avg.), runs scored (24), hits (45), doubles (9), triples (3) and RBI (23). Tim O'Brien has a team-high six home runs while Quintin Berry has stolen a team-high 15 bases.
The Aztecs' ace is righty Justin Masterson. Masterson has a team-low 3.95 ERA, going 2-5 with three complete games. Masterson has struck out a team-high 56 batters and walked just 16 in 66 innings. Righty Bruce Billings is also a solid starter for SDSU, posting a 1-2 record and a 4.58 ERA, the second lowest on the team. Billings has fanned 39 batters in 35.1 innings. Justin Lynch (1-2, 5.89 ERA), Jared Suwyn (0-0, 6.97 ERA) and Brett Douglas (1-1, 7.91 ERA) are the most used out of the bullpen. All three have made at least 10 starts and thrown over 10 innings.
ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN: The Lobos are 18-10 overall, which is the best record in the Mountain West Conference to date. TCU has won 16 games, with a winning percentage of .516 and shares the lead in the conference standings with San Diego State at 3-1. The Aztecs are 9-24 overall. New Mexico is 1-2 in the MWC.
The Lobos lead the conference in batting average (.306), slugging percentage (.458), on base percentage (.393), RBIs (204), doubles (61), home runs (24), wins (18), fewest losses (10), fewest extra base hits allowed (68), fielding percentage (.972) and fielding double plays (45).
Individually, the Lobos are dominating as well. New Mexico has at least three ranked in the top-10 in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, RBIs, doubles, home runs and total bases. Sophomore Ian Hollick stands out for the Lobos, ranking in the top-10 in batting average (.346, 7th), slugging percentage (.607, 2nd), on-base percentage (.437, 9th), runs scored (25, T4th), hits (37, T6th), RBI (25, 5th), doubles (9, T5th), triples (2, T2nd), home runs (5, T3rd) and total bases (65, 3rd).
Junior Danny Ray Herrera has etched his name throughout the pitching categories, holding the best ERA (1.51), opposing batting avg. (.218), most innings pitched (71.1), most games started (9), fewest runs allowed (14), fewest earned runs allowed (12) and fewest doubles allowed (3) for pitchers who average at least 1 inning per game. Herrera is also in the top-10 in stikeouts (57, 4th), strikeouts looking (17, 4th), wins (5, T2nd), fewest walks allowed (16, T7th) and fewest triples allowed (1, T4th).
The fielding is just as strong, leading the conference in three of the six categories. First basemen Daniel Stovall has turned a league-high 34 double plays and is third in chances (247) and putouts (240). Junior center fielder Matt Foote and junior designated hitter/first baseman Chris Carlson hold perfect fielding percentages to tie for the conference lead while sophomore second baseman Jordan Pacheco has dished out a conference-high 100 assists and is third in double plays turned (30) and 10th in chances (172). Senior shortstop Ryan Barba is third in the conference in assists (98) and has turned the second most double plays (33).
WINNING WAYS: The Lobos are 18-10 overall, which trails only the 1993 team for the best record through the first 28 games since head coach Rich Alday took over the program in 1990. The 1993 team went on to win 35 games, which is tied with the 2000 team for the fifth most wins in a single season in program history. The 2003 team, which was 18-10 through the first 28, went on to win 34. This season's team, which had an impressive eight-game win streak, is projected to win 35 of 55 games, which includes the two guaranteed games in the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
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.The Lobos' 45 double plays fielded are more than any other MWC school's production with UNLV and San Diego State the next closest with 33. Not to mention Stovall, Barba and Pacheco rank 1, 2 and 3 in the conference for most double plays turned with 34, 33 and 30, respectively.
SENSATIONAL STARTERS: The Lobos have relied heavily on their starting rotation for innings and wins. The starters, 12-6 with a 4.40 ERA, have thrown 174 innings with 126 strikeouts. The bullpen, 6-4 with a 5.92 ERA, has tossed 83.2 innings with 53 strikeouts.
New Mexico is also stronger at the plate with its starters. The Lobos have used 13 different pinch hitters with six getting at least one hit. Non-starters are hitting .270 compared to the starters' .307 average. In 28 games, the Lobos have pinch-hit in 16 games, but only four of them have come in the last 11 games.
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 0-3 when scoring less than three runs and they are 0-6 when trailing after seven innings and 0-7 after eight innings. The Lobos are 3-4 when an opponent scores first and 6-8 when their opponent scores in the first inning. But, they are 8-3 when they score in the first and 12-2 when they score first.
FAST FOOTE: Junior Matt Foote has been running all season and shows no signs of slowing down. His 15 stolen bases on 19 tries leads the team and is tied for the high in the conference. He has scored 31 runs, which is tied for the second most on the team and in the MWC.
HOT HITTING HOLLICK: Sophomore Ian Hollick has been offensively solid all season. He leads the team in triples and holds the team's longest hitting streak at 14 games. His career-high hit streak started in Arizona on Feb. 18 and didn't end until March 18 vs. San Francisco. During his streak, he accomplished a rare feat vs. 12th-ranked Oregon State, hitting a solo home run off of Dallas Buck, which was just the third off of Buck and the fourth against the team all season. At the MWC Preseason Tournament, he led the team in hitting with a .385 average while the team hit just .189. Hollick scored four of the team's nine runs, hit both of UNM's home runs, had two of the team's nine RBI and five of its 21 hits.
DOUBLIN' DAN: Junior Daniel Stovall has been a double-hitting machine this season, cranking out 16 to lead the Mountain West Conference. Stovall hit two in four different games this season, including each of the games in the series vs. Northern Colorado.
PUTTING PACHECO IN PLAY: Sophomore Jordan Pacheco is one of six Lobos to start and play in all 28 games this season. A constant defensive wizard at second, Pacheco has put out 66 batters, the third most on the team, and dished out a team-high 100 assists.When he isn't putting people out, he is putting himself on base. Pacheco is hitting .315, the fifth best average on the team, has scored a team-high 36 runs and is fourth on the team in hits (35). He has been hit by a pitch 11 times, drawn a team-high 20 walks and has stolen eight bases, the second most of any Lobo.
D-RAY DELIVERS: Junior Danny Ray Herrera has done nothing but deliver win after win for New Mexico. A perfect 5-0 in nine starts, Herrera holds a 1.51 ERA, the best in the MWC. Herrera has thrown two complete games, including one shutout, leading the conference in innings at 71.1. Herrera has allowed 55 hits, but only seven were more than singles. He has fanned 57 and walked just 16. Only 12 earned runs have scored with Herrera on the mound.
PUT ME IN COACH, I'M READY TO PLAY: Freshman Chad Itokazu has been ready to play anywhere head coach Rich Alday wants to put him. He's started four games in right field, pinch hit and thrown in relief and performed well each time. At the plate, he is hitting .188 (3-for-16) but has one of the team's nine triples and has three RBI and four runs scored. On the mound, Itokazu has made 10 appearances for 12 innings. He is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA, walked nine and struck out 12.
ROLE REVERSAL: Freshman Chace Lankford began the season as UNM's closer but has recently made the switch to starter. In his first three appearances, Lankford came in to close a game, compiling a 1-1 record with a save. His following three appearances as the Sunday starter resulted in a 3-0 record. Overall, Lankford has been successful no matter when he throws, posting a 5.33 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 27.0 innings. At the MWC Preseason Tournament, he earned his fifth win in 1.2 hitless innings of relief against San Diego State and he started Sunday's game vs. Utah, which was not completed.
BULLPEN BY COMMITTEE: Head coach Rich Alday has 13 different Lobos in relief so far this season. Junior Damon Miller has made the most appearances (12), going 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA in 17.1 innings. Miller, with 10 strikeouts, trails freshman Chad Itokazu for the team-high with 12. Itokazu has made 10 appearances, the second most on the team, going 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in 12 innings pitched.
Three relievers, juniors Jackie Smith and Sean McKee and freshman Tim Sloan, have yet to give up a run. Of the three, Sloan has made the most appearances (2), allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out two.
LOBOS LAST TIME OUT: The New Mexico baseball team scored first but the Albuquerque Isotopes scored more thanks to a five-run third inning that lifted them to a 6-2 win over the Lobos in front of 3,171 fans at the exhibition game played at Isotopes Park Tuesday night.
Junior center fielder Matt Foote got the Lobos started in the top of the first with a one-out chopper to short. Foote moved to third on a double from junior first baseman Chris Carlson and then scored on a grounder from sophomore third baseman Ian Hollick.
Senior Jesse Perez, making his first start of the season, looked like a pro, allowing just one hit in 2 innings.
The Isotopes finally came alive in the third, plating five runs on five hits, including a grand slam from first baseman Jason Stokes. With the bases loaded and one out, designated hitter Mike Kinkade lined out to senior shortstop Ryan Barba. Barba flipped to sophomore second baseman Jordan Pacheco, turning the double play at second, catching third baseman Jason Wood to far off the bag.
One inning later, catcher Tom Wilson led off with a triple and scored on a single to left from shortstop Drew Niles for a 6-1 lead.
With one out in the sixth, Foote singled through the left side to stay perfect at the plate. Foote, who was caught stealing to end the third, swiped second and scored on a double from Carlson.
Foote completed the evening 3-for-3, scoring both of New Mexico's runs. Carlson was 2-for-3 with a RBI. For the `Topes, Niles was the only player with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored.
Yuseiro Petit earned the win, allowing one hit while striking out one in 1 inning. Junior Quentin Andes suffered the loss, allowing five hits, five earned runs and three walks in 1/3 of an inning. Junior Damon Miller threw a hitless inning and recorded the Lobos' only strikeout of the night. Miller fanned center fielder Mark Little to end the seventh.
It's the second consecutive year the Lobos played an exhibition game with the Isotopes, Triple-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins. The two met for the first time in an exhibition game at Isotopes Park on Tuesday, April 5, 2005 before 3,692 fans, with the Isotopes coming out on top in seven innings, 17-4. All tickets for the event benefited UNM Athletics.
KDEF 1150 AM TO BROADCAST LOBO BASEBALL FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE SEASON: For the third straight season, Albuquerque radio station KDEF will supply exclusive broadcasts of Lobo baseball on 1150 AM and throughout the world at www.GoLobos.com. All of the team's 29 home games will be broadcast live.
Henry Tafoya will call the play-by-play for the Lobos, while Dan Rivera and Mike Foote will provide analysis. It also marks the third straight season for the trio calling Lobo baseball. Prior to each broadcast, there will be a 15 minute pre-game show. A post-game show with interviews will follow at the conclusion of each game.
In addition to the broadcasts, all of New Mexico's home games can be followed live on the internet at www.GoLobos.com with Gametracker. Gametracker takes official statistics from the press box and provides up-to-the-minute information for users, including updated team and individual stats, an updated box score, and play-by-play. Gametracker can be accessed on the right side of UNM's home page in the upcoming events box.