April 7, 2010
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico Lobo baseball team hosts the BYU Cougars for a three-game Mountain West Conference series at Isotopes Park April 8-10. The Lobos are currently ranked second in the MWC with a 6-3 record and are 19-10 overall. New Mexico is 5-1 in their last six MWC games. BYU is ranked fourth in the conference with a 3-3 record and are 13-14 overall.
All three games will be broadcast live on 101.7 FM The TEAM. Scott Galetti and former Lobo baseball player Rick Ronquillo (1978-83) will call the action live from Isotopes Park.
Friday night is Youth Night at Isotopes Park. All youth tickets are $2. Friday's game against BYU is also Little League Baseball Night. All tickets for current Little League baseball players around the state are only $2. Friday's game is sponsored by 97.7 FM OMG and 106.7 FM.
The Lobos will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on No. 5/10 Arkansas on April 13-14. On April 16-18, New Mexico will host Coppin State to Albuquerque for a three-game weekend series. The game on April 18 will be played at Lobo Field.
SCOUTING BYU The Cougars are 13-14 on the season, 6-4 in their last 10 games and 8-12 away from home this season.
BYU is coached by Vance Law, who is in his 11th year coaching the Cougars with a 330-277-2 (.542) record.
The Cougars return four players with starting experience, 22 letterwinners and five starting pitchers from last year's squad.
BYU is led at the plate by senior infielder Brandon Relf, who is hitting .380 on the season. Relf is ranked eighth in the MWC in batting average, seventh in hits (41) and fifth in runs scored (29).
The Cougars are ranked third in the MWC with a .328 team batting average.
BYU is led on the mound by sophomore right-handed pitcher Matt Neil, who is 3-2 on the season and has an ERA of 5.26. He is ranked second in the MWC in ERA, seventh with 31 strikeouts and tied for second with four saves.
The Cougars are ranked fifth in the MWC with a 6.82 team ERA.
The Lobos will likely face Neil on Thursday, freshman right-hander Chunner Nyberg on Friday and freshman right-hander Chris Capper on Saturday. Nyberg is 0-2 on the season with a 7.98 ERA in seven starts this season. He has 12 strikeouts on the season with 15 walks. Capper is 2-0 on the season with a 3.25 ERA, 14 strikeouts and five walks. Capper will make his third start of the season on Saturday against the Lobos.
SERIES HISTORYBYU leads the all-time series against the Lobos, 74-49-1 and hold slim a 30-29 advantage in Albuquerque. The Lobos and Cougars split last season's series with each team picking up three wins. The Cougars bounced the Lobos from the Mountain West Conference tournament in Fort Worth, Texas with a 5-1 win on May 21, 2009.
JUAREZ HITS OVER .500 AGAINST UNLVSenior Chris Juarez went 7-for-12 (.583) last weekend against UNLV. Juarez improved his batting average by 23 points to a .406. He is one of two Lobos to currently have a batting average above .400.
OLSON AND KESLER GET IT DONE AGAINJunior Richard Olson and senior Willy Kesler each picked up wins in consecutive starts for the second time this season. Olson pitched 5.2 innings in a 7-3 victory over UNLV on April 2. Olson had four strikeouts on the day and is now 3-2 on the season. Kesler scattered six hits over 7.1 innings and had five strikeouts in a 6-2 series-clinching win over UNLV on April 3. Kelser has now thrown at least five strikeouts in his last five appearances and is 2-1.
IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGSAs a team the Lobos rank fifth in the nation in doubles (75) and 10th in hits with 364. New Mexico also is ranked 15th in the NCAA with a .345 batting average. The Lobos are tied for 21st in the nation with 12 triples on the season.
Senior Justin Howard is ranked eighth in the nation with 53 hits, No. 76 with a .421 batting average and tied for 16th with 14 doubles. Junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda is tied for 79th in the nation with 11 doubles.
Sophomore Gera Sanchez is tied for 27th in the NCAA with five saves.
LEADERS OF THE PACKSenior Justin Howard continues to lead the Lobos in batting average at a .421 clip. He also leads the team in on-base percentage (.479), doubles (14), runs scored (31) and hits (53). All-America candidate Rafael Neda is hitting .352 on the season and leads the team in RBIs (28).
The Lobo pitching staff is led by junior Richard Olson, who has an ERA of 3.53 and is 3-2 on the season. Olson has pitched 35.2 innings this season and has 34 strikeouts to just 14 walks. Senior Willy Kesler has a 4.17 ERA, is 2-1 on the season and leads the team in strikeouts with 42.
TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST STATISTICSThe Lobos lead the Mountain West Conference with a .345 batting average and in doubles with 81. The Lobo pitching staff is tied for the most strikeouts in the conference with 211 and is fourth in the conference with a 5.42 ERA.
Several Lobo hitters are making their presence known in the MWC rankings. Senior Justin Howard is second in the league with a .421 batting average and is ranked first in on-base percentage (.479). Senior Chris Juarez is ranked fourth in batting average hitting .406. Howard leads the league in doubles with 14 and junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda is tied for fifth with 11. Howard is ranked fourth in the league with 30 RBIs and Neda is tied for seventh with 28.
The pitching staff is just as impressive in the MWC rankings. Junior Kenny Toves is ranked first in the conference with a 2.12 ERA and junior Richard Olson is ranked sixth with a 3.30 ERA and seventh with 34 strikeouts. Senior Willy Kesler is ranked fourth in the conference with 42 strikeouts. Senior Edwin Carl is tied for seventh in the league with 13 batters stuck out looking. Sophomore Gera Sanchez is tied for the league in saves with five.
On defense, Howard is tied for the lead in fielding percentage (1.000) and is ranked first in putouts with 252.
LOBOS IN THE NATIONAL POLLSThe Lobos are receiving votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top-30 poll and the USA Today Coaches top-25 poll.
The Lobos are also ranked No. 32 in boydsworld.com's RPI index. The Lobos are the highest ranked Mountain West team. No. 38 TCU, joins New Mexico as the only two MWC teams in the top-100. The Lobos have two victories over No. 12 Texas, No. 46 USC and No. 90 New Mexico State. The Lobos face three more teams this season in the top-100, Arkansas (5), TCU (38), and Texas Tech (52).