Lobo Baseball Opens Mountain West Conference Play With Utah
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/17/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 17, 2010

Game Notes vs. Utah in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico Lobo baseball team starts conference play when it welcomes Utah to Isotopes Park on March 19-21. The Lobos (13-5) have won eight-straight games against the Utes (7-7) and are on a five game win streak this season. All three games will be broadcast on 101.7 FM (KQTM) The TEAM. Connie Alexander will call the action from Isotopes Park. Handling the color analysis will Lobo baseball alumnus Rick Ronquillo, who played from 1979-83.

The Lobos have partnered with the City of Albuquerque organization Read to Me to collect books for Albuquerque children. Lobo baseball fans who bring a new or gently used children's book to Friday's game at 6 p.m. MT get free admission.

The Lobos will hit the road for two games against Arizona on March 23-24. On March 26-28 New Mexico hosts San Diego State at Isotopes Park.


• The Utes are 7-7 on the season and are 6-6 away from Salt Lake City. Utah defeated Portland, 6-1 on March 14 but have lost five out of its last seven games.

• Utah is coached by Bill Kinneberg, who is in his sixth-year coaching the Utes with a 162-183 (.470) record. Kinneberg has 14-years of head coaching experience and has an overall record of 407-366 (.527) . • The Utes return 10 players with starting experience, 20 letterwinners and seven starting pitchers from last year's squad.

• Utah is led at the plate by sophomore catcher C.J. Cron, who is hitting .386 on the season. Cron has three doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs.

• The Utes are hitting .256 as a team.

• The Utes' ace is Rick Anton, who is 3-1 on the season in four starts and has a 3.31 ERA. Anton has 23 strikeouts on the season with just two walks.

• Utah has a 3.91 ERA as a staff.

• The Lobos will likely face senior-right hander Jordan Whatcott on Friday, senior right-hander Andrew Wilding on Saturday and Anton on Sunday. Whatcott is 1-3 on the season in four starts and has a 4.84 ERA. Wilding is 1-1 on the season in three starts and has a 3.31 ERA.


The Lobos lead the all-time series with the Utes, 81-48 and have won eight straight since 2007. The Lobos swept last season's series in dramatic fashion, winning all three games in extra innings. The last Utah victory was on April 20, 2007 in a 13-4 decision.


Lobo baseball head coach Ray Birmingham earned his 900th career victory in a 15-14 extra-innings win over Louisiana Tech in game one of a doubleheader on March 13. Down, 14-8 in the bottom of the 10th inning the Lobos got seven runs off seven hits to seal the come-from-behind victory. The Lobos swept the four game series over Louisiana Tech and Birmingham is now 902-378-2 (.704) in his 23-year career.


Senior Justin Howard continues to lead the Lobos in batting average with a .462 clip. He also leads the team in on base percentage (.543). All-America candidate Rafael Neda is hitting .395 on the season and is tied for the lead with Howard in RBIs (23) and doubles (9). Neda leads the team in home runs with three. Both Howard and Neda have reached base safe in 18 straight games.

The Lobo pitching staff is led by junior Mike Lachapelle, who has an ERA of 3.95 and is 3-0 on the season. Lachapelle has pitched 27.1 innings this season and has 15 strikeouts to just five walks. Out of the bullpen sophomore Gera Sanchez has been automatic in relief for the Lobos. Sanchez has a 0.00 ERA with a team high four saves with seven strikeouts and just two walks.


Senior Daniel Gonzalez had two walk-off singles in a doubleheader against Louisiana Tech on March 13. The Mesquite, N.M., native knocked in two RBIs with a shot to left center in the bottom of the tenth inning of game one. In the nightcap Gonzalez played the hero once more by hitting a single up the middle to score a runner from second. Gonzalez was 9-for-18 on the weekend with 11 RBIs. Coming into the series with Louisiana Tech, Gonzalez only had six RBIs.


Junior Mike Lachapelle scattered nine hits over eight innings and earned his second win of the season in a 13-4 victory over New Mexico State on March 10 and scattered five hits over 5.1 innings in relief against Louisiana Tech on March 14 for his second win of the week.. Lachapelle fanned 13 batters on the week. His outing against New Mexico State was the longest outing for Lachapelle this season.


Junior Ryan Honeycutt went 6-for-8 in two games against New Mexico State on March 9-10. Honeycutt had one double and two RBIs in the two-game series with State. The Las Cruces, N.M., native is now hitting .349 on the season.


Sophomore left-hander Rudy Jaramillo picked up his first win of the season, scattering five hits over eight innings to lead the Lobos to a 3-2 victory over USC on March 5. Jaramillo gave up two runs on three hits in the first inning but only allowed two hits over the next seven innings to thwart the Trojan attack. Jaramillo struck out one batter.


The Lobos are ranked 23rd in Ping!baseball's top-30 poll, 24th in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper 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.

The Lobos are also ranked No. 20 in boydsworld.com's RPI index. This is the highest RPI in school history. The Lobos are the second highest ranked Mountain West team and only three spots behind No. 17 TCU. The Lobos have two victory's over No. 4 Texas and No. 45 USC. The Lobos face six more teams this season in the top-100, TCU (17), Arkansas (26), Texas Tech (61), Arizona (65), Utah (70) and San Diego State (86).


The Lobos lead the Mountain West Conference with a .354 batting average and lead the league in doubles with 53. The Lobo pitching staff is fourth in the conference with a 5.28 ERA, ranked second in strikeouts (129) and ranked fourth in opponent's batting average (.301).

Several Lobo hitters are making their presence known in the MWC rankings. Senior Justin Howard leads the league with a .462 batting average and in on-base percentage (.543), junior All-America candidate Rafael Neda is ranked fifth, hitting .396 and senior Chris Juarez is ranked ninth, hitting .391. Howard and Neda are tied for the league lead in doubles with nine and are also tied for the lead in RBIs with 23.

The pitching staff is just as impressive in the MWC rankings. Junior Mike Lachapelle is ranked 10th in the conference with a 3.95 ERA. Junior Edwin Carl is tied for second in the league with 11 batters stuck out looking and is ranked seventh in strikeouts with 19. Senior Willy Kelser also is ranked seventh with 19 strikeouts. Sophomore Gera Sanchez is tied for the league lead in saves with four.

On defense, Howard is tied for the lead in fielding percentage (1.000) and is ranked first in putouts with 157.


The underclassmen on the team keep coming up with veteran plays. Freshman Alex Allbritton is fourth on the team in batting average at a .379 clip and has started all 18 games at third base. Allbritton was a home run shy of hitting through the cycle on March 14. The Aurora, Colo., native had a single, two doubles and a triple on the day with one RBI.

Freshman Mitchell Garver came up big on Feb. 26, in a 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 the Feb. 27 doubleheader with Northern Colorado.

Freshman Bobby Mares picked up the first win of his collegiate career in a 13-5 win over Northern Colorado on Feb. 28. Mares pitched 5.0 innings giving up two runs on three hits.


New Mexico natives Mitchell Garver (Albuquerque), Gera Sanchez (Las Cruces), Austin House (Albuquerque) and Edwin Carl (Farmington) all had a hand in taking three of four from Northern Colorado on Feb. 26-28. Garver got a clutch bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the eighth on Feb. 26 in a 7-5 come-from-behind win. Sanchez came on in the bottom of the eighth in a Feb. 27, 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 the Feb. 26 7-5 win. House picked up the first save of his collegiate career in that game as well.


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.

Of the 19 games left to be broadcast on 101.7 The TEAM, 13 will be from the friendly confines of Isotopes Park. The broadcasts will feature key home series 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 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.


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.


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 .395 on the season with 23 RBIs, three home runs and nine 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.