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Lobo Baseball Headed to 2010 Conoco Mountain West Confernece Baseball Championship
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  05/24/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

May 24, 2010

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico Lobo baseball team travels to the 2010 Conoco Mountain West Conference Baseball Championship hosted by San Diego State this Tuesday-Saturday, May 25-29, 2010. The Lobos (35-18, 14-8 MWC) earned the No. 2 seed with a first-round bye. UNM will play its first game on Wednesday, May 26 at 4 p.m. MT. The Lobos will play the highest-seeded winner from Tueday's games. On Tuesday, May 25, No. 4 BYU will play No. 5 UNLV at 4 p.m. MT, followed by No. 3 San Diego State and No. 6 Utah. No. 1 TCU will play the lowest-seeded team that advances on Wednesday at 8 p.m. MT.

Every game of the 2010 Conoco Mountain West Conference Baseball Championship will be televised nationally on The Mountain Sports Network. The trio of James Bates, Todd Christensen and former Colorado Rockies pitcher Roger Bailey will call every inning of the championship. The Mtn. can be seen on Comcast channel 276 and on DirecTV channel 616.

SCOUTING THE MWC TOURNAMENT

• No. 1 TCU (43-11, 19-5), No. 2 New Mexico (35-18, 14-8), No. 3 San Diego State (28-26, 13-11), No. 4 BYU (25-29, 12-12), No. 5 UNLV (27-27, 11-13), No. 6 Utah (22-26, 10-13).

HISTORY AT THE MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT

New Mexico is 12-20 all-time at the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The Lobos have never won a MWC Tournament but did win the league's first regular-season title in 2000.

NEW MEXICO AS A NO. 2 SEED

For the third-straight year the Lobos are the No. 2 seed in the 2010 Conoco Mountain West Conference Tournament. New Mexico is 4-6 as a second-seeded team. The Lobos fell victim to San Diego State's ace Stephen Strasburg in a 2-1 opening-round loss in 2009. The Lobos were ushered out of the 2009 edition of the Conoco MWC Tournament with a 5-1 loss to BYU. In 2008 the Lobos forced TCU to a best 2-out-3 situation for the championship but fell to the Horned Frogs, 15-2 on May 24, 2008.

IN THE NATIONAL STATS RANKINGS (as of May 22)

As a team the Lobos are ranked fifth in the nation with a .352 batting average, seventh with 690 hits and are eighth with 150 doubles.

Senior Justin Howard is second the nation with 111 hits, and a .463 batting average and is ranked third with 29 doubles.

SENIOR Justin Howard, ONE OF THE BEST HITTERS IN THE NATION

Senior Justin Howard is currently tied for the lead in the NCAA for batting average (.463) and ranks second in hits (111) and is ranked third in doubles with 29. Howard moved into second place all-time at UNM for hits in a single-season with hit No. 107 on Sunday, May 16 against Delaware State. Howard went 12-for-14 (.857) on the weekend and wrapped up a new milestone almost every at-bat. The Ennis, Texas native became the first player in Division I to reach 100 hits this season with his third hit of the day on May 15. On May 16, in his fourth at-bat of the day, Howard doubled to left-center field for hit No. 107. Howard added hit No. 108 with a single to the pitcher in his last at-bat of the day.

LEADERS OF THE PACK

Senior Justin Howard leads the Lobos in batting average at a .463 clip. Howard also leads the team in on-base percentage (.511), RBIs (68), doubles (29), runs scored (71) and hits (111). Senior Chris Juarez is hitting .414 with 10 doubles and 30 RBIs. Junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda is hitting .382 on the season and is second on the team in RBIs (60).

The Lobo pitching staff is led by senior Willy Kesler, who has a 3.51 ERA, is 6-2 on the season, leads the team in strikeouts with 88 and has three complete games. Junior Kenny Toves is 5-2 with a 4.08 ERA. Junior Richard Olson is 4-3 with a 4.19 ERA on the season and is second on the team with 48 strikeouts.

TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST STATISTICS

The Lobos lead the Mountain West Conference with a .352 batting average. New Mexico also leads in hits (690), runs batted in (423) and strikeout less than any team in the league. The Lobos are also ranked second in doubles (150) and runs scored (458). The Lobo pitching staff is third in the conference with a 5.48 ERA and in strikeouts with 377.

Several Lobo hitters are making their presence known in the MWC rankings. Senior Justin Howard is on top of the Mountain West standings in batting average at a .463 clip. Howard also ranks first in runs scored (71), hits (111), doubles (29) and is ranked second in RBIs (68). Senior Chris Juarez is third in the conference with a .414 batting average. Junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda is sixth in the MWC with a .382 batting average, fifth with 60 RBIs, ranked third with 22 doubles, tied for 10th with 10 home runs and is ranked eighth with 78 hits.

The pitching staff is just as impressive in the MWC rankings. Senior Willy Kesler is ranked fifth in the conference with a 3.51 ERA and is ranked third in the conference with 88 strikeouts. Junior Kenny Toves is ranked seventh with a 4.08 ERA and junior Richard Olson is ranked eighth with a 4.08 ERA. Sophomore Gera Sanchez is third in the league in saves with five.

On defense, Howard is ranked second in putouts with 489.

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