April 17, 2013
New Mexico Lobos Baseball - at Lobo Field
Wednesday: New Mexico Lobos 13, New Mexico State 6
Up Next: New Mexico at Nevada - April 19-20-21
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
That's the first five of seven pitchers that Birmingham trotted out to the mound in New Mexico's wind-blown 13-6 pounding of the error-prone (six) New Mexico State Aggies.
And all five of those Lobo arms are products of New Mexico high schools.
"The big thing for me today was we went Sandia, Piedra Vista, Carlsbad, Roswell and Volcano Vista, in succession," said Birmingham. "We wanted to throw the New Mexico kids on the mound today and we did it. New Mexico kids were on the field."
Of course, there was another big deal for the Lobos Wednesday at Lobo field. They beat the Aggies.
"We can go with that," Birmingham said of his Lobos being extra motivated to beat the team that beat UNM 10-5 in Las Cruces earlier this season.
Said UNM"s Mitch Garver, who left his spot behind the plate to play left field: "There are a few guys on that team that I've played with in high school and I've known for a while. It's tough going down to Las Cruces (and losing) and it's always fun when they come up here and we can put a beating on them.
"It was important how we came out and ended this game."
The Lobos ended the game the way they started the game - cleanly. The Aggies played too much like the sloppy weather that whipped around Lobo Field from start to finish. The Aggies had six errors which helped UNM plate six unearned runs.
"Our focus was good today, defensively, that's for sure," said Alex Allbritton. "With this weather, nobody wants to be out there too long and the defense really appreciates it when the pitchers are throwing strikes.
"I think it was important that we capitalized on their mistakes and kept the game clean for us."
The Aggies had to earn all six of their runs without any UNM help. Two of those NMSU runs came off solo homers by Tanner Rust.
It definitely was a day that both clubs decided to clean out their bullpen. The Lobos threw seven pitchers and NMSU threw seven. Duree was the only pitcher out of the 14 who threw more than two innings and he went 2.1 frames. McCasland got the win for UNM and had three strikeouts in 1.2 innings of work.
"Today was a day we wanted to get some people some mound time. It worked out," said Birmingham.
Said Garver: "It was important for a lot of guys to get in the game and get their reps. We had the opportunity to give more people some playing time."
Aggies jumped out 1-0 in the first on Rust's first shot - a deep blast over the right-center wall that got a little push from the wind. UNM came back to take a 2-1 lead after one inning. UNM was up 4-1 after two, 6-2 after three and 9-4 after six.
The Lobos, now 21-16, scored in all but one inning of the eight innings in which they batted. UNM had 14 hits and NMSU had 11.
Chase Harris led UNM in RBIs with three and Garver and Alex Allbritton had two RBIs each. Garver scored three runs while Harris, Allbritton and Jared Holley each scored twice. NMSU's arms walked six Lobos and UNM gave seven Aggies a free pass to first base.
"We always talk about the Rio Grande rivalry and it's a big deal, a good deal, a friendly deal. It's cool," said Birmingham. "But the conference games are the most important."
A midweek game with the Aggies is a tough thing for a manager to, well, manage. As a Lobo, you want to beat down on the Aggies. But in baseball, you have to manage - and save - pitchers' arms for the more important league battles - and the stretch run of a season.
"It feels great (to beat the Aggies)," said Allbritton, a senior. "We never seem to put together a win when we go down to their place, but my last time beating them here, it feels real good."
The Lobos are at Nevada Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a three-game Mountain West series. The Lobos are in first place in the Mountain at 11-4. San Diego State is at 10-5. The Lobos close their MW slate at San Diego State and UNM plays its final six league games on the road. The Lobos could use a series win over Nevada.
"It's a big deal," Birmingham said of the series at Nevada. "They have everybody back. We are playing well right now and hopefully we can continue it through the months of April and May. Every game is important from here on out."
Of course, the Lobos' win over NMSU on Wednesday was important, too. You could see it in the Lobo smiles.