Stevens: Birmingham Lets His Lobos Chew On Vitamin C -- Confidence
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/27/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 27, 2010

Box Score

Friday: Lobos at SDSU, 7 p.m.
Saturday: Lobos at SDSU, 7 p.m.
Sunday: Lobos at SDSU, 2 p.m.

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

Lobo coach Ray Birmingham says Rudy Jaramillo's recent turnaround on the mound has a lot to do with an big dose of C vitamin.

Jaramillo will add a couple of Cs. He credits confidence, coaching and a change-up that actually is changing.

"I'm a big believer in the C vitamin and the C vitamin is called confidence," said Birmingham after New Mexico's 16-8 pounding of Texas Tech Tuesday at Isotopes Park.

"You give `em a C vitamin and you tell them that they are the greatest player since baseball began. You make them be bulldogs. You make them believe that they can get Derek Jeter and A-Rod out back-to-back.

"Rudy has had a whole bottle full of C vitamins -- chewables."

Jaramillo got a number of Red Raiders out back-to-back. He went five innings, scattered four hits and allowed three Tech runners to touch home plate. He left the mound with UNM up 12-3 and advanced his record to 3-1 on the season. UNM is 28-14.

"Earlier this season, I didn't have any confidence," said Jaramillo. "I thought I couldn't get guys out. It's nice pitching with confidence. It's been a big part of my success these last two outings."

Another big part of Jaramillo's success is complementing a precision fastball with a change-up that stops looking like a fastball somewhere near the plate.

"Earlier in the season, it (change-up) was basically a B.P. (batting practice) fastball that got hammered," said Jaramillo. "The change-up is starting to work. I'm able to spot my fastball now, but the change-up makes my fastball that much better."

Another thing that always helps pitchers -- and their pitches - is throwing out of a big lead. The Lobo bats provided that with three quick runs in the bottom of the first and nine runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Lobos had 16 hits while Tech wasn't shabby with 12 hits.

UNM got multi-RBI games from Adam Courcha (2), Justin Howard (2), Rafael Nada (3), John Michael Twichell (2) and Max Willett (2). Howard, Neda and Honeycutt each had three hits, and Courcha and Daniel Gonzalez had two hits apiece. Howard scored four times and Neda reached home three times.

Yes, it was another UNM slugfest with four Tech pitchers taking most of the beating.

"We beat Texas Tech. We hit the ball really, really well," said Birmingham. "Rudy pitched his tail off. That's a very offensive team. That team will probably end up second in the Big 12."

Birmingham stressed the positive after the win, but you could tell the Lobo coach was not happy with the finish he got off his mound. Tech scored four runs in the top of the eighth and a single run in the top of the ninth to form the final eight-run gap. Gera Sanchez gave up three runs in the eighth and Gabe Aguilar gave up the fourth run.

The Lobos were never in trouble, thanks to a big lead, but Birmingham knows you aren't always going to take a nine-run lead into the final two frames. He wants to see that bulldog finish.

When freshman Austin House gave up a single, followed by a wild pitch, followed by a balk, followed by a double, Birmingham strolled out in the ninth to have a chat with his Lobo pup. Birmingham was not carrying a bottle of vitamins.

"I can't tell you (what I said)," said Birmingham. "But it's about guts.

"It's about wanting to be the guy who wants to bat with two outs and the tying run at third and the winning run at second. You want to be the guy who takes the ball with a one-run lead to win the ball game. Some of the guys are getting it."

Birmingham says if enough of his Lobos get it, they just might win the Mountain West title and slip into the NCAA playoffs.

The Lobos return to MWC play on Friday with a visit to San Diego State. The Lobos play the Aztecs on Saturday and Sunday, too. "Everything from here on out is huge for us; all the way down the line," said Birmingham.