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Lobos Visit Sunny California For Three-Game series with Southern California
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/04/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 4, 2010

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico Lobo baseball team finishes a five-game road trip with a three-game series at the University of Southern California on March 5-7. The Lobos (6-3) head to sunny California to face USC at Dedeaux Field for the first time since 1985. The Trojans (4-4) have a slim 3-1 series advantage over New Mexico with all four games being played in Los Angeles.

The Lobos return home for the start of a nine-game home stand. New Mexico will host New Mexico State on on March 9-10, Louisiana Tech for a four-game series on March 12-14 and will open Mountain West Conference play against Utah on March 19-21.

SCOUTING USC

The Trojans are currently 4-4 on the season and defeated Long Beach State on Tuesday, March 2, 10-5.

  • The Trojans are led at the plate by sophomore Matt Foat, who is hitting .406 with two doubles and one home run.

  • USC is hitting .293 as a team.

  • USC's top pitcher is senior right-handed pitcher Kevin Couture, who has an ERA of 3.12 in 8.2 innings pitched.

  • The likely pitching rotation for USC this weekend will be sophomore Andrew Triggs on Friday, March 5, sophomore Ben Mount on Saturday, March 6 and Couture on Sunday, March 7. Triggs (1-0) is thrid on the team with a 5.11 ERA. He has pitched 12.1 innings giving up seven runs and has dealt 11 strikeouts. Mount (0-1) is second on the team with a 4.05 ERA in 13.1 innings pitched with 11 strikeouts.

  • As a staff, USC has a 5.50 ERA.

    SERIES HISTORY

    This will be only the fifth meeting between the Lobos and the Trojans and the first since 1985. USC won 15-12 in 1960, 21-1 on April 12, 1963 and 4-2 on April 4, 1972. The Lobos won the last meeting on March 12, 1985, 7-1. All four games were played in Los Angeles, Calif.

    ALL-AMERICAN CANDIDATE Rafael Neda NAMED TO JOHNNY BENCH AWARD WATCH LIST

    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 .447 on the season with 10 RBIs, two home runs and two 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.

    895 AND COUNTING

    Lobo baseball head coach Ray Birmingham earned his 895th career victory in a 9-6 decision over his alma mater, New Mexico State. Birmingham has a chance to get win No. 900 at home with a nine-game homestand on tap for the Lobos over the next two weeks.

    JUAREZ HEATS UP IN LAS CRUCES

    Senior Chris Juarez went 6-for-10 hitting, .600 in two games in Las Cruces against New Mexico State. Juarez improved his batting average for the season to a team high .457. Junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda and Justin Howard both went 4-for-8 hitting, .500 in the two-game series. Neda hit his first two home runs of the season and had four RBIs.

    LOBOS IN THE NATIONAL POLLS

    The Lobos are ranked 20th 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.

    TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST STATISTICS

    The Lobos are second in the Mountain West Conference with a .354 batting average and lead the league with 24 doubles. The Lobo pitching staff is third in the conference with a 4.28 ERA strikeouts (67) and opponent's on-base percentage (.273).

    Several Lobos are ranked in the top-10 in MWC batting average. senior Chris Juarez is hitting .457 (3rd), junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda has a .447 clip (4th) and senior Justin Howard is hitting .471 (8th). Neda is tied for first in the league with 17 hits and is tied for fourth in RBIs with 10. Howard is ranked seventh with nine RBIs. Sophomore Ben Woodchick is tied for the MWC with five doubles. Juarez's four doubles on the season place him in a tie for third in the MWC rankings. Senior Cameron Smith's and Neda's two home runs are tied for fourth.

    The pitching staff is just as impressive in the MWC rankings. Three Lobo pitchers are ranked in the top-10 in the MWC. Junior Kenny Toves is sixth with a 1.64 ERA. Senior Edwin Carl's 2.45 ERA ranks him ninth and sophomore Mike Lachapelle's 2.70 ERA is good for 10th. Carl is tied for first in the league with eight batters stuck out looking.

    On defense, Howard leads the league with 71 putouts and in fielding percentage (1.000).

    NEDA HITS .500 ON LAST WEEKEND, KESLER FANS EIGHT

    Junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda hit .500 on the weekend going 9-for-18 with five RBIs and two doubles. Neda went 3-for-5 in this past Sunday's 13-5 win over Northern Colorado with three RBIs and one double.

    Senior right-hander Willy Kesler threw 6.0 innings in game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader, giving up two runs on three hits. Kesler tied a career high with eight strikeouts. The Thornton, Colo. native struckout eight against Northern Iowa on March 8, 2008.

    YOUNG GUNS

    The underclassmen on the team keep coming up with veteran plays. Freshman Mitchell Garver came up big in Friday night's 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 Saturday's doubleheader with Northern Colorado.

    Freshman Alex Allbritton is fifth on the team in batting average at a .346 clip and has started all seven games at third base. Freshman John Michael Twichell has made the most out of his appearances going 4-for-5 from the plate and is ranked second on the team with three doubles.

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

    NEW MEXICO BOYS GETTING THE JOB DONE

    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 this past weekend. Garver got a clutch bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the eighth in Friday's 7-5 come-from-behind win. Sanchez came on in the bottom of the eighth in Saturday's 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 Friday's 7-5 win. House picked up the first save of his collegiate career in Friday's game as well.

    LOBO BASEBALL ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH 101.7 THE TEAM

    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.

    Alongside Galetti will be former Lobo baseball player Mike Foote (1976-80). Foote lettered at UNM in baseball from 1976-80 and was an All-Western Athletic Conference shortstop in 1980. Foote led the Lobos in stolen bases in 1980 with 12 and triples in 1979 with seven.

    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 with in-state rival New Mexico State (March 9-10), 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 New Mexico State (March 2-3), 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.

    Television and radio broadcast legend Connie Alexander has been called on to pinch-hit for Galetti for several games this season including this week's midweek series at New Mexico State.

    HARVESTING NEW MEXICO TALENT

    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.

    LOBOS PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE

    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.

    THREE LOBOS NAMED PRESEASON ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE

    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.

    THE SCHEDULE

    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.

    NEDA NAMED PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN

    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.

    THREE LOBOS NAMED TEAM CAPTAINS

    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.
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