March 23, 2004
NEXT IN LOBO BASEBALL
New Mexico Lobos (5-13-1) at New Mexico State Aggies (19-6-1)
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24 * 6 P.M. * PRESLEY ASKEW FIELD *LAS CRUCES, N.M.
MEDIA COVERAGE: Gametracker
SERIES INFORMATION: This will be the 203rd meeting between the two schools, dating back to 1948. New Mexico leads the all-time series, 134-68. The Aggies took four of five games from the Lobos last year, and are riding a two-game winning streak over UNM. NMSU beat the Lobos in the last meeting, 16-14, on April 22, 2003. The teams will only play each other twice this season.
PROJECTED PITCHING MATCHUP:
UNM: RH So. Darren Coltrinari (0-1, 6.43 ERA, 7.0 IP, 5 K) vs. NMSU: LH Jr. Joe Hampel (0-0, 5.12 ERA, 19.1 IP, 13 K)
STORYLINE: The Lobos are coming off their best week of the season after posting a 3-1 record during last week's action. UNM upset Texas Tech, who entered the game with an RPI of 20, 4-1 on March 16, and took two of three games over Utah to open Mountain West action over the weekend.
The Lobos will look to continue their recent solid play at arch-rival New Mexico State (19-6-1) this Wednesday, March 24 in Las Cruces. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Presley Askew Field. Live stats of the game will be available at www.NMStateSports.com on the right side of the front page in the events calendar box.
New Mexico State won four of five last year over the Lobos, but New Mexico leads the all-time series that dates back to 1948, 134-68. The two teams will meet again Tuesday, March 30 at Isotopes Park.
After playing the Aggies, the Lobos will turn their attention back to conference play as they host San Diego State this weekend (March 26-28) at Isotopes Park. Friday and Saturday's game will start at 6 p.m., and Sunday's finale will be at 12 p.m. On Saturday night, the Lobos will look to "Pack the Park" in trying to set the all-time attendance record for a UNM baseball game. The current record is 5,430 set on April 28, 2001 vs. Air Force.
PACK THE PARK NIGHT SET FOR MARCH 27: The New Mexico baseball program is looking to "Pack the Park" on March 27 vs. the San Diego State Aztecs, beginning at 6 p.m. All tickets for the event are only $2, and there will be a fireworks extravaganza after the game.
Help UNM set the all-time Lobo single-game attendance mark on "Pack the Park" Night March 27! Game starts at 6 p.m., followed by a post-game fireworks show!
The Lobos are looking to break the all-time attendance mark for the program, which is currently 5,430, set on April 28, 2001, vs. Air Force. UNM is hoping the lure of the Aztecs will help them in its quest - earlier this season, SDSU set an NCAA baseball record with 40,106 fans attending the March 11 game against Houston in the city's brand new PETCO Park.
DON'T LEAVE FOR THE BALLPARK WITHOUT THEM - CAN'T MISS NOTES:
* The Lobos have won three of their last four games...UNM upset Texas Tech, who had an RPI of 20, 4-1 on March 16, and took two of three games from Utah to open the MWC with a 2-1 record.
* Fourteen of the Lobos' first 19 games have come against teams with a winning record, and eight of those games were against teams either ranked in the Top 25 or receiving votes in the national polls. Texas A&M is ranked No. 10 in the country, while Nebraska is ranked 20th. Arkansas and Texas Tech are receiving votes. UNM's schedule is currently rated the 25th-toughest in the nation.
*The Lobos have won four of their last five games at Isotopes Park. After getting off to a tough start at "The Reactor" with a 0-7-1 record in the first eight games, UNM is now 4-8-1 all-time in its new home.
* The Lobos' first 12 conference games are at home...11 of UNM's 15 games in March are at home...UNM will play only four of 17 games at home in April.
*The Lobos hit .306 as a team last week with 41 hits and 27 runs...it held opponents to a .224 batting average with only 18 runs...the Lobos scored a season-high 11 runs in their 11-6 win over Utah March 21.
GET OUT THOSE BINOCULARS - LOBOS TO WATCH:
* Junior centerfielder and leadoff hitter Matt Young is the team's offensive spark. Young leads the team in batting (.333), hits (24), RBI (11) and runs (20). He batted .429 last week with six hits, five runs and five RBI, including a two-run triple that gave UNM a 2-1 lead in its win over Texas Tech March 16. Young's four triples this season already establish a career-high and is tied for tops in the Mountain West.
* Junior right-hander Cooper Eddy is 2-0 with a 2.91 ERA and 14 strikeouts in his last three starts (21.2 innings). He leads the team in innings (31.2) and strikeouts (23). He was named Mountain West Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season on March 22.
* Junior left fielder Garrick Haymore leads the team with a .443 on-base percentage (sixth in the MWC) and is batting .291 with eight RBI. Haymore batted .333 last week and had an on-base percentage of .556. He currently has a five-game hitting streak.
* Freshman Jay Russell led the team with a .600 (6-for-10) batting average and .667 on-base percentage last week. He also had two RBI and scored the tying run in Sunday's win over Utah.
NOTES FROM THE UTAH SERIES
The Lobos batted .320 as a team in the series with 23 runs...UNM scored a season-high 11 runs in Sunday's 11-6 win...Jay Russell batted .700 in the series (5-for-7) with a run and an RBI...Matt Young went 5-for-11 (.455) and scored four runs...he also had an on-base percentage of .600 with three RBI...Sean Murray hit his first homer of the season in Friday's win and batted .357 with five RBI in the series...Josh Mader drove in four runs and hit .417 (5-for-12)...Lefty reliever Joe Salas pitched three innings of scoreless ball, striking out two and only allowing one hit.
WEEKEND UPDATE - UTAH SERIES RECAP: The Lobos opened the Mountain West season by winning two of three games over Utah last weekend (March 19-21) at Isotopes Park.
The New Mexico baseball team opened the series with a 7-5 win over Utah Friday night for its third consecutive win at home.
UNM broke a 4-4 tie with three runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a commanding 7-4 lead. With two outs and no runners on base, Josh Mader singled to right, and then stole second. Joe Salas, the next batter, drove in Mader with a single to left, giving the Lobos a one-run advantage. Sean Murray extended the lead with a two-run shot over the left-field wall for his first homer of the season.
Utah countered with one run in the top of the eighth, but with the bases loaded and two outs, Petr Pacas limited the damage by striking out Ryan Khoury on three pitches. Salas closed the ninth for his second save in as many games.
Jason Fernandez threw a solid seven innings in the start, allowing four runs and four hits while striking out six. He improved to 2-2 for the season. Jason Price of Utah gave up six runs on 10 hits in 6.2 innings of work to drop to 1-3.
On Saturday, UNM scored three runs in the seventh and two in the eighth, but it wasn't enough as Utah outlasted the Lobos, 6-5, before a season-high crowd of 1,764. UNM out-hit the Utes, 12-8, and four Lobos had at least two hits, including Josh Mader, who went 3-for-5 with two RBI and a stolen base.
The Lobos got things going in the bottom of the seventh, scoring three runs to cut the lead to 5-3. Matt Young hit a single through the right side to score Jay Russell, and Mader nailed a shot up the middle to plate Young and Ryan Barba. The Utes countered with one run in the top of the eighth to make it 6-4.
In the eighth, the Lobos scored two runs on two bases-loaded walks. Young and Haymore walked back-to-back with the bases filled to cut the margin to one run. The rally was cut short when Mader ended the inning on a popout with the bases still loaded.
UNM couldn't muster a rally in the ninth off Ute reliever Clay Westmoreland, who picked up his second save of the season after firing two scoreless innings.
The Lobos collected 12 hits in the game, but left 10 runners on base, including four in the last three innings. Young, Russell and Daniel Stovall each had two hits apiece.
In Sunday's finale, the Lobos used a six-run eighth inning to rally and defeat Utah, 11-6.
Down 6-5, the Lobos (5-13-1) exploded for six runs in the eighth on five hits and two Ute errors to take a commanding 11-6 lead. Jay Russell, who collected a season-high three hits in the game, started the comeback effort with a leadoff infield single. He advanced to second on a Tim Grady sacrifice bunt, and scored on a Joe Salas pinch-hit single that tied the game at 6.
Salas, the go-ahead run, then took an interesting adventure around the bases to put the Lobos up for good. He advanced to second on his single after the throw to home plate, sneaked his way to third without even drawing a throw from the Utes after the tying run scored, and then trotted home on a Clay Westmoreland (1-2) balk. After taking the lead, the Lobos never looked back.
UNM scored four more runs in the inning on four hits and two Ute errors, including RBI hits by Garrick Haymore and Sean Murray. Haymore went 1-for-3 with two runs and two walks, while Murray went 2-for-5 with two RBI.
ON DECK: The Lobos host San Diego State in a three-game series this weekend (March 26-28) at Isotopes Park.
AROUND THE HORN...
OFFENSIVELY: The Lobos, traditionally a powerful offense force, are starting to heat up at the plate after struggling in their first few games. UNM hit .306 as a team last week and hit .320 in the Utah series, including a season-high 11 runs and eight RBI in Sunday's 11-6 win. In the Mountain West, the Lobos are third in batting (.267) but tied for fifth in runs (88).
DEFENSIVELY: The Lobos have commited 31 errors for a .957 fielding percentage (opponents - 20 E, .973 pct.), but are improving in the field every game. In the win over Texas Tech March 16, UNM put on a fielding clinic, highlighted by several diving stops and catches that propelled the Lobos to victory. Second baseman Ryan Barba is tied for second in the MWC with 16 double plays turned.
PITCHING: Opponents are batting .287 against UNM pitching and have scored 131 runs - although 27 of them are unearned. UNM's staff ERA is 5.60 (fourth in the MWC) compared to opponents' 4.04. The staggering difference is the walk-to-strikeout ratio (UNM - 115 K, 88 BB; Opponents - 122 K, 49 BB). The starter's ERA is 4.91 compared to the bullpen's 6.82.
LOBOS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS: While it's a little early in the season to be looking at strength ratings, it's always nice to know where a team stacks up nationally.
The Lobos are ranked 125th in the nation in the Boyd's World College Baseball ISR rankings and 155th nationally in the Boyd's World College Baseball Pseudo-RPI rankings released March 21. The ISR (Iterative Strength Rating) measures the quality of a team's season to date by combining their winning percentage with the difficulty of their schedule. The Ratings Power Index (RPI) is the official NCAA formula designed to aid the selection committee for each sport in choosing the tournament field. It is based on a combination of a team's winning percentage, their opponents' winning percentage, and their opponents' opponents' winning percentage, with bonuses and penalties involved for road wins against top teams or home losses to lower-ranked teams.
According to Boyd's World, the Lobos have played the 25th-toughest schedule in the nation. Lobo opponents have a combined 191-142 (.574) record and the non-conference opponents are an impressive 143-69 (.676) thus far.
The Mountain West Conference is currently ranked 20th in the nation out of 31 leagues. UNLV is the highest rated team in the MWC with a Pseudo-RPI of 127. San Diego State sits at 146.
PLAYER NOTES -
A GLANCE AT THE LOBO STARTING PITCHER: Wednesday's probable starter at New Mexico State is sophomore right-hander Darren Coltrinari. Coltrinari has not seen action since his Feb. 28 start against Arkansas. He lost his first two outings of the season (Feb. 22 - Northwestern; Feb. 28 - Arkansas) and will look to get back on track against the Aggies.
Wednesday, March 24 - #21 So. RH Darren Coltrinari (0-1, 6.43 ERA)
* One of only three returning pitchers for UNM from last season
* Only returning starter
*Suffered losses in his two starts this season against Northwestern (Feb. 22) and Arkansas (Feb. 28)
* Has struck out five in 7.0 innings of action
PUT ME IN COACH - YOUNG IN CENTER FIELD: Junior Matt Young is the starting center fielder this season for the Lobos after two years in left. Young, the team's leadoff hitter, is the offensive leader in batting (.333), hits (24), runs (20) and RBI (11), and has already has established a new career high with four triples. Young ranks among the top 10 in the MWC in five offensive categories, including first in triples.
Young was named the Mountain West Player of the Week Feb. 23 after an impressive opening weekend at the Baseball Fiesta Tournament in which he went 6-for-11 with two triples, four RBI and six runs. Young was also named to the Aggie Classic All-Tournament Team.
A dynamic defensive player, Young is one of seven players in the Mountain West to own a perfect fielding percentage and has made some spectacular plays in center field season. The Murphy, Texas, native put together a .466 on-base percentage and led the MWC in walks (54) and runs (76) in 2003 while batting .320.
MADER RETURNS TO NATURAL POSITION: After playing two years at third base, junior Josh Mader finally returns to his natural position at shortstop this season following the departure of All-American Dusty Young.
Mader, a 2003 first-team All-MWC selection, polished his game over the summer playing shortstop in the Alaskan Summer League. A lifetime .363 batter, Mader is batting .314 with 10 RBI this season. He also leads the team and is fifth in the MWC with five stolen bases.
Mader is starting to heat up at the plate after .417 with five RBI last weekend against Utah.
BARBA SOLID AT SECOND: Sophomore second baseman Ryan Barba is second on the team with 10 RBI after his career-tying five RBI performance in UNM's 6-3 win over UCSB on March 7. Barba hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, breaking a 2-2 tie to propel the Lobos to victory. Defensively, he is tied for second in the conference in double plays turned (16) and is eighth in assists (48).
Barba is also second on the team in runs with 12. He earned all-tournament honors at the Aggie Classic with a .368 average in the six games. A native of Van Nuys, Calif., Barba earned the starting spot at second at the end of his freshman season with his strong bat (.366 BA).
SALAS SPELLS R-E-L-I-E-F: Senior lefty Joe Salas has always possessed an explosive bat in his career at UNM, but this season he is focusing more on being the Lobo closer. Salas has two saves this season and eight for his career, which is tied for fourth all-time in New Mexico history. In his last six appearances (6.0 IP), he hasn't allowed a run and has only given up three hits to go along with six strikeouts. He leads the team with a 3.29 ERA.
Offensively, he broke out last year with 16 homers and 56 RBI in addition to a .366 batting average to earn first-team All-MWC honors. Although he struggling as the DH this season (.176 BA, 0 HR, 7 RBI), he does have 205 hits, 140 RBI and 26 homers for his career.
FERNANDEZ PROVIDING CONSISTENCY ON THE MOUND: Right-hander Jason Fernandez is 2-2 on the mound this season and has looked very impressive at times. He is 10th in the league with a 4.56 ERA.
The junior was named the MWC Pitcher of the Week March 1 after firing a six-hit complete game in UNM's 3-1 win over Arkansas Feb. 27. Fernadez limited the Razorbacks, who were previously undefeated and ranked No. 28 in the Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches Poll, to one run and only eight base runners. He took the loss in his next start against UCSB, but responded with a solid seven-inning effort in a win over Utah March 19, including a season-high six strikeouts.
HOT BAT AT THE HOT CORNER: Freshman Daniel Stovall is seventh in the Mountain West in slugging (.500) and ninth in batting (.321). He has started at first base in six of the last seven games after playing at third base at the beginning of the year.
Stovall hit his first career homer Feb. 28 vs. Arkansas and followed it with another shot the same day against Texas A&M. The powerful hitter also blasted two doubles in his first collegiate start vs. No. 23 Nebraska.
SPIT THIS: Sophomore catcher A.J. Spitaleri is fourth on the team in hitting (.306) and on-base percentage (.350). with a .306 average. A.J. was on fire at the plate in the UCSB series, collecting five hits in seven at-bats (.714) with three runs and an RBI.
Hay...MORE PRODUCTION IN LEFT FIELD: Junior left fielder Garrick Haymore is providing the Lobos with a steady bat in the No. 2 hole in the lineup. Haymore, who is batting .355 (11-for-31) in his last 10 games, leads the team with a .443 on-base percentage, which is sixth best in the Mountain West. Overall, he is hitting .291 with eight RBI, including a crucial run-scoring single in the Lobos' upset win over Texas Tech March 16.
CAPTAIN PROVING HIS WORTH: Senior right-fielder Sean Murray, one of two co-captains on this year's team, is tied for second on the team with 10 RBI. Murray, who hit .357 against in the Utah series, blasted his first homer of 2004 in last Friday's win over the Utes. A career .342 hitter, Murray has started at first base, left field and right field for the Lobos this season.
EDDY NAMED MOUNTAIN WEST PITCHER OF THE WEEK...AGAIN: Junior right-hander Cooper Eddy has showed why he was the projected number one starter at the beginning of the season in his last three outings, as he is 2-0 with a 2.91 ERA. The transfer from Tennessee Tech leads the team with 23 strikeouts and 31.2 innings pitched and is eighth in the league with a 4.26 ERA.
On March 16, Eddy (2-2) limited a powerful Texas Tech offense to one run on four hits in seven innings of work, and for his efforts, he earned his second MWC Pitcher of the Week accolade of the season. In his first win of the season against UCSB, Eddy fanned seven Gauchos and only allowed one walk in a seven-hit complete-game effort to earn Mountain West Pitcher of the Week honors March 8.
MARK McGWIRE USELESS STAT OF THE WEEK
"When I broke in, they didn't keep track of things the way they do now. These days they have a stat for how many times a guy goes for a cup of coffee." - Mark McGwire
The Lobos are 354-350 (.503) all-time when playing "State" schools, with the most wins coming against New Mexico State (134), and the most losses coming against Arizona State (100).
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT - NEW MEXICO STATE
New Mexico State enters the contest with a 19-6-1 record. The Aggies took two of three over Cal State Northridge over the weekend, but lost and tied in a doubleheader at Loyola Marymount on Monday.
The Aggies feature All-American first baseman Billy Becher, who leads the team with 13 home runs and 43 RBI. Becher was the NCAA Division I home run and RBI champion last season and was named the Sun Belt Player of the Year. He was a consensus first-team All-American, and topped every preseason All-American list in 2004.
Another powerful hitter in the lineup is Mark Aranda, who is batting .422 with 10 homers and 33 RBI. As a team, the offense is batting .330 and averaging 11.35 runs per game and 11.27 hits per game.
HEAD COACH: Brian Faison. Overall record: 143-159 (Fourth year). Record at NMSU: Same.
New Mexico leads, 134-68. The Aggies took four of five games from UNM in 2003.
UNM Streak: Lost two
Last meeting: New Mexico State 16, New Mexico 14 (April 22, 2003)
Last UNM win: New Mexico 6, New Mexico 2 (Feb. 21, 2003)
Coach Alday vs. NMSU: 32-33 (Home: 19-11; Away: 12-19; Neutral: 1-3)
LOBOS VS. NEW MEXICO STATE: Sean Murray has a .368 average (14-for-38) against Aggie pitching in 11 games with 11 RBI...Ryan Barba has five RBI and four hits in two games against NMSU...Matt Young is batting .361 (13-for-36) in 10 games against NMSU.