May 22, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - University of New Mexico sophomore third baseman DJ Peterson and junior catcher Mitchell Garver were named Mountain West Co-Players of the Year Tuesday as voted on by the conference's baseball coaches. They were two of 11 Lobos named to the first and second all-conference teams as the Lobos dominated the voting. UNM head coach Ray Birmingham was also named Coach of the Year.
Garver is also a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award, while Peterson is on the Golden Spikes Award watch list and was named a Dick Howser Trophy semifinalist.
There was not much separation between Garver and Peterson during conference play in 2012. The pair ranked 1-2 in nine offensive categories including batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, runs batted in, doubles, total bases and total plate appearances. They tied for first in home runs with eight apiece and tied for second in triples with two each.
Peterson edged out Garver in batting average by .001 with a .446 clip at the plate. Peterson, a product of Gilbert, Ariz., topped the league with a .812 slugging percentage, .533 on-base percentage and 40 RBI. Garver, an Albuquerque, N.M., native, led the league with 42 runs scored, 49 hits, 11 doubles, 88 total bases and 123 total plate appearances.
Counting all games overall, Garver and Peterson finished 1-2 in eight offensive categories. Peterson became the third player in Mountain West history to claim the overall triple-crown title with a .422 batting average, 14 home runs and 68 RBI. UNLV's Eric Nielsen earned the title in 2004 and Utah's C.J. Cron took the crown in 2011. Each Lobo also won Mountain West Player of the Week Award three times throughout the season.
Joining Peterson and Garver on the All-MW first team were junior shortstop Alex Allbritton, junior outfielder Josh Melendez, junior starting pitcher Austin House, and senior DH/utility player Ben Woodchick. Garver, Peterson, Melendez and House were unanimous first-team selections.
Three seniors highlighted the Lobos on the second team. First baseman Trey Porras, second baseman Kyle Stiner, and starting pitcher Gera Sanchez were all honored. Joining them were freshman outfielder Ryan Padilla and sophomore starting pitcher Josh Walker.
The all-conference honors were the first for all 11 Lobos. The six players on the first team and 11 players named overall set new school records for UNM. The previous high was five on the first team in 2009 and eight overall in both 2000 and 2008.
Birmingham led the Lobos to a share of the team's first Mountain West regular season title since 2000, the league's inaugural year. UNM recorded an 18-6 conference record, tying TCU for the crown. The Lobos finished the regular season with a 33-22 overall record and will be the No. 1 seed in the 2012 Mountain West Baseball Championship, which takes place Thursday through Sunday, at Earl E. Wilson Stadium in Las Vegas.
Rich Alday won the only previous MW Coach of the Year Award for UNM back in 2000.
The Lobos' first game of the tournament is at 8 p.m. (MT) when they face host UNLV. House will take the mound for UNM while freshman Erick Fedde will start for the Rebels.