Lobo Baseball Hosts Louisiana Tech In Four-Game Homestand
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/11/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 11, 2010

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico Lobo baseball team will host Louisiana Tech this Friday-Saturday in a four-game homestand at Isotopes Park. The Lobos (9-5) are coming off a midweek split with New Mexico State, losing on March 9, 14-10 and winning on March 10, 13-4. Louisiana Tech (8-4) fell to Baylor on March 9, 12-4. This will be the first meeting between the Lobos and Bulldogs.

Lobo head coach Ray Birmingham picked up career win No. 898 against NMSU on March 10 and will look to grab No. 900 this weekend against the Bulldogs.

New Mexico finishes up a nine-game homestand and opens up Mountain West Conference play when Utah visits Isotopes Park on March 19-21.


• The Bulldogs are currently 8-4 on the season and lost 12-4 to Baylor on March 9.

• Louisiana Tech is coached by Wade Simoneaux, who is in his eighth-year coaching the Bulldogs. Simoneaux has an overall record of 182-217-1.

• The Bulldogs return five starting position players, 11 pitchers with starting experience and 22 letterwinners from last years squad.

• Louisiana Tech is led at the plate by junior Will Alvis, who is hitting .469 with three doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs.

• The Bulldogs are hitting .308 as a team.

• The Bulldogs are led on the mound by sophomore left-hander Mike Jefferson, who is 1-0 on the season and has a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings pitched. Jefferson has 14 strikeouts on the season with 12 walks.

• Louisiana Tech has a 6.77 ERA as a staff.

• The Lobos will likely face sophomore right-hander Jeb Stefan on Friday, senior left-hander Jamey Bradshaw in game one on Saturday and Jefferson in game two on Saturday. Sunday's pitcher is yet to be determined. Stefan is 1-2 on the season with a 5.54 ERA in 13 innings pitched. Bradshaw is 1-0 on the season with a 5.60 ERA in 17.2 innings pitched and has 20 strikeouts on the season.


This will be the first meeting between the Lobos and Bulldogs.


Lobo baseball head coach Ray Birmingham earned his 898th career victory in a 13-4 decision over New Mexico State on March 10. Birmingham has a chance to get win No. 900 at home with a seven-game homestand on tap for the Lobos over the next two weeks.


Senior Justin Howard continues to lead the Lobos in batting average with a .475 clip. Howard was 5-for-10 in a two-game series against in-state rival New Mexico State on March 9-10. Howard drove in four RBIs and had a two-run home run on March 10. He also leads the team in RBIs (19), doubles (7) and on base percentage (.535).


Junior Ryan Honeycutt went 6-for-8 in two games against New Mexico State on March 9-10. Honeycutt had one double and two RBIs in the two-game series with State. The Las Cruces, N.M., native is now hitting .362 on the season.


Junior Mike Lachapelle scattered nine hits over eight innings and earned his second win of the season in a 13-4 victory over New Mexico State on March 10. Lachapelle fanned eight batters and gave up two runs on the day. This was the longest outing for Lachapelle this season.


Sophomore left-hander Rudy Jaramillo picked up his first win of the season, scattering five hits over eight innings to lead the Lobos to a 3-2 victory over USC on March 5. Jaramillo gave up two runs on three hits in the first inning but only allowed two hits over the next seven innings to thwart the Trojan attack. Jaramillo struck out one batter.


The Lobos are ranked 22nd in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, 27th in Ping!baseball's top-30 poll and are receiving votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top-30 poll and the USA Today Coaches top-25 Poll.

This is the earliest a Lobo baseball team has been ranked and only the third season in school history. Last season, the Lobos were ranked No. 21 on March 23 by Baseball America and moved as high as 18th. The Lobos first broke the top-25 and were ranked as high as No. 14 in 1985 by Baseball America.

The Lobos are also ranked No. 31 in boydsworld.com's RPI index.


The Lobos are tied for the lead in the Mountain West Conference with a .351 batting average and lead the league in doubles with 38. The Lobo pitching staff is fourth in the conference with a 4.86 ERA, ranked second in strikeouts (97) and ranked third in opponent's batting average (.282).

Several Lobo hitters are making their presence known in the MWC rankings. Senior Justin Howard is second in the league with a .475 batting average and senior Chris Juarez is ranked seventh, hitting .415. Howard also ranks second in on-base percentage with .535, is tied for the lead in doubles with seven and is second with 19 RBIs. Sophomore Ben Woodchick and senior Max Willett are tied for fourth in doubles with five.

The pitching staff is just as impressive in the MWC rankings. Junior Kenny Toves is ranked fourth with a 2.93 ERA. Sophomore Rudy Jaramillo is ranked eighth with a 3.86 ERA. Senior Edwin Carl is tied for second in the league with nine batters stuck out looking and is ranked eighth in strikeouts with 15. Senior Willy Kelser ranks ninth with 14 strikeouts.

On defense, Howard is tied for the lead in fielding percentage (1.000) and is ranked first in putouts with 118.


The underclassmen on the team keep coming up with veteran plays. Freshman Mitchell Garver came up big on Feb. 26, in a 7-5 win over Northern Colorado. Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Garver was at the plate with the bases loaded and went opposite field down the right field line for a bases-clearing triple to put the Lobos on top, 6-5. Garver got his first career start at catcher in the second game of the Feb. 27 doubleheader with Northern Colorado.

Freshman Alex Allbritton is sixth on the team in batting average at a .340 clip and has started all 14 games at third base. Freshman John Michael Twichell has made the most out of his appearances going 4-for-9 from the plate hitting, .444.

Freshman Bobby Mares picked up the first win of his collegiate career in a 13-5 win over Northern Colorado on Feb. 28. Mares pitched 5.0 innings giving up two runs on three hits.


New Mexico natives Mitchell Garver (Albuquerque), Gera Sanchez (Las Cruces), Austin House (Albuquerque) and Edwin Carl (Carlsbad) all had a hand in taking three of four from Northern Colorado on Feb. 26-28. Garver got a clutch bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the eighth on Feb. 26 in a 7-5 come-from-behind win. Sanchez came on in the bottom of the eighth in a Feb. 27, 5-2 game one win. Sanchez gave up one hit and shut the Bears down over the last two frames to earn the first win of his Division I career. Carl picked up his first win of the season pitching 2.2 scoreless innings, striking out four of the 12 batters he faced in the Feb. 26 7-5 win. House picked up the first save of his collegiate career in that game as well.


The University of New Mexico baseball team and Lobo Sports Properties are proud to announce 101.7 The TEAM (KQTM FM) as its radio partner for the 2010 season. For the first time in program history, Lobo baseball will be featured on FM radio. The TEAM will carry 30 games from Isotopes Park and on the road.

Calling the action for Lobo home games will be Lobo football and men's basketball play-by-play announcer Scott Galetti. Galetti has covered Lobo athletics for the last two years and previously called baseball for Long Beach State University and the High Desert Mavericks, the single-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

Of the 30 games to be broadcast on 101.7 The TEAM, 16 will be from the friendly confines of Isotopes Park. The broadcasts will feature key home series Louisiana Tech (March 14), Utah (March 19-21), San Diego State (March 26-28), BYU (April 8-10), San Francisco (April 20) and TCU (May 7-9).

Fans also will be able to follow the Lobos on the road. Series with San Diego State (April 30-May 2), Utah (May 20-22) and the Mountain West Tournament from San Diego, Calif. (May 25-29) also will be available.


Of the 33 rostered Lobo baseball players, 11 are from the Land of Enchantment. Oscar Almeida (Albuquerque) Devon Conley (Rio Rancho), Mitchell Garver (Albuquerque), Daniel Gonzalez (Mesquite), Austin House (Albuquerque, N.M.), Kenny Toves (Carlsbad), Edwin Carl (Farmington), Gera Sanchez (Las Cruces), Steven Florez (Mesilla), Cody Volker (Albuquerque) and Ryan Honeycutt (Las Cruces,) are all played their high school ball in New Mexico.


University of New Mexico junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda has been named to the 2010 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award delivered by Papa John's Pizza Watch List. Neda is one of 53 catchers up for the prestigious award given to the nation's top catcher. Neda is currently hitting .383 on the season with 13 RBIs, two home runs and four doubles.

Neda was selected for more than his ability behind the plate. The junior from Obregon, Sonora, Mexico is involved in community service projects including, Power Pals at Kirtland Elementary School, where Lobo baseball players adopt a child to read to once a week and Toys-for-Tots where UNM students provided needy children with gifts at Christmas.

Neda also participated in the La Familia Holiday Party where he helped serve food and signed autographs for children. He also took part in a free camp put on by Lobo baseball for children of U.S. soldiers serving in the military. Neda also helped with the UNM Back Pack Drive, where UNM student-athletes helped fill and distribute backpacks with school supplies to children in need.

The field will be narrowed down to ten semifinalists to be announced on May 19. The finalists will be announced June 2 with the winner being announced at the 13th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on July 1.


The University of New Mexico Lobo baseball team was picked to finish second in the Mountain West Conference Preseason Poll. TCU was picked to finish first and received all 10 first-place votes. San Diego State and Utah, 2009 NCAA Regional qualifiers, were picked third and fourth, respectively. BYU was picked to finish fifth, UNLV sixth and Air Force seventh.

In each of the last two seasons New Mexico has finished above its predicted finish in the preseason poll. New Mexico was picked fifth in the 2009 preseason poll and finished second for the second straight year. In 2008 the Lobos were picked to finish fourth in the conference and ended the season in second place.


Senior Max Willett, junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda and junior Ryan Honeycutt were selected to the All-MWC Preseason Team. The Lobos and San Diego State landed the most players on the All-MWC team with three each.


Head coach Ray Birmingham and his staff have put together one of the toughest schedules in school history for the 2010 season. The Lobos play three teams ranked in Baseball America's preseason top-25, two College World Series participants and five NCAA Regional participants. New Mexico took on preseason No. 1 Texas on Feb. 19-21 and will play preseason No. 17 Arkansas on April 13-14 and preseason No. 11 and favorite to win the MWC regular season championship TCU on May 7-9.


Junior catcher Rafael Neda has been named to the Louisville Slugger, Ping!baseball and Pro-Line Athletic Preseason All-American teams. Neda hit .415 last season with seven home runs and 49 RBIs. For the second straight season, Neda was named to the 2009 All-MWC team. Born in Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, Neda will be the anchor of the defense and a true leader on the team.


Seniors Max Willett and Adam Courcha and junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda were selected by their teammates as captains for the 2010 season. Willett is serving his second term as captain and along with Neda are the lone two returning All-MWC performers. Courcha is the definition of a utility player. Over his three-year career he has played viturally every position and will play third base this season.