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Baseball Heads To Las Vegas For Mountain West Tournament
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  05/24/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

May 24, 2004

MWC Championship Guide in PDF Format
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Mountain West Tournament Bracket in PDF Format
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NEXT IN LOBO BASEBALL

No. 2 New Mexico (24-27-1, 20-10 MWC) at Mountain West Championship

ALL GAMES AT EARL E. WILSON STADIUM (3,000) - LAS VEGAS, NEV.

TOURNAMENT SEEDS:

No. 1 San Diego State 33-27 (19-9 MWC)
No. 2 New Mexico 24-27-1 (20-10)
No. 3 UNLV 33-22 (20-10)
No. 4 BYU 28-28 (18-12)
No. 5 Utah 21-34 (11-19)
No. 6 Air Force 5-47 (0-28)

TOURNAMENT FORMAT (ALL TIMES LISTED - PACIFIC): The tournament is double elimination and the first two seeds receive a first-round bye. New Mexico, the No. 2 seed, will play the highest seed remaining (No. 3 UNLV, No. 4 BYU or No. 5 Utah) in the winner's bracket Thursday at 11 a.m. PT. The tournament begins Wednesday and the title game will be Saturday. The winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

MEDIA COVERAGE:

RADIO: All UNM games will be broadcast on KDEF 1150 AM and GoLobos.com with Henry Tafoya, Dan Rivera and Mike Foote calling the action.

LIVE STATS: Gametracker of all games available at the Mountain West website at www.TheMWC.com; Lobos games also available at GoLobos.com

Official Tournament Website

STORYLINE: After coming up just short for the Mountain West regular season title, the New Mexico baseball team will shift its focus toward the MWC Championship and a chance for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament this week in Las Vegas. The Lobos (24-27-1) enter the double-elimination, six-team tournament as the No. 2 seed after finishing conference play with a 20-10 record. San Diego State (19-9) finished percentage points ahead of UNM to earn the No. 1 seed, but the Lobos owned the tiebreaker over third-seeded UNLV (winning the season series, 4-2) to receive a bye in the first round of the tournament.

A.J. Spitaleri


New Mexico begins tournament play at 11 a.m. PT against the highest remaining seed in the winner's bracket. The tournaments gets underway Wednesday as No. 4 BYU plays No. 5 Utah at 11 a.m., and No. 3 UNLV plays No. 6 Air Force at 3 p.m. If the Lobos win their first game, they will play Friday at 3 p.m.; if they lose, they will play Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Lobos will be looking for their first Mountain West Tournament championship. UNM only has a 3-8 record in their four previous appearances at the MWC Tournament, and has never reached the championship game. New Mexico's best showing came at the 2001 tournament, when it reached the semifinals. The Lobos' lone NCAA Tournament appearance came in 1962.

All Lobo games this weekend can be heard on KDEF 1150 AM and on www.GoLobos.com. Live stats of all tournament games will be at www.TheMWC.com.

QUICK LOOK AT THE LOBOS (24-27-1, 20-10 MWC):

-- UNM is 21-15 in its last 33 games after starting 3-12-1...the Lobos defeated UNLV two out of three games last weekend at Isotopes Park to earn the No. 2 seed in the tournament...New Mexico took the series opener on Thursday, 14-12, before falling on Friday, 13-4...UNM scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth in the 5-4 comeback win on Saturday...the Lobos' second-place finish in the MWC is the best since they won the title in 2000...UNM took two out of three games at UNLV earlier this season (April 23-25).

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 runs (56) and on-base percentage (.448), and is fifth in the MWC in batting (.364). His 11 triples rank sixth in the nation and lead the MWC. Young is also hitting a phenomenal .491 (26-for-53) with runners in scoring position, which leads the Mountain West.

-- Senior DH Joe Salas is the team's most explosive hitter at the plate. Salas leads the team with 12 homers and 52 RBI. He is also the team's closer with a 4-1 record, five saves and a team-best 3.98 ERA.

-- Junior shortstop Josh Mader was named the MWC Co-Player of the Week May 24 after batting .538 with two homers and seven RBI in the UNLV series. Mader went 4-for-4 with two homers, including a grand slam, to go along with a career-high six RBI in the 14-12 win on May 20. The Albuquerque native leads the team and is second in the Mountain West with a .373 batting average.

LOBOS IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP:

-- All-time record: 3-8 (.375)

-- 2000 (Las Vegas, Nev.) No. 1 New Mexico 17, Air Force 3 No. 4 Utah 6, No. 1 New Mexico 4 No. 3 BYU 6, No. 1 New Mexico 3

-- 2001 (San Diego, Calif.) No. 4 New Mexico 7, No. 3 Utah 4 No. 4 New Mexico 5, No. 5 UNLV 2 No. 1 BYU 12, No. 4 New Mexico 7 No. 2 San Diego State 12, No. 4 New Mexico 5

-- 2002 (Provo, Utah) No. 1 San Diego State 8, No. 6 New Mexico 2 No. 2 Utah 9, No. 6 New Mexico 8

-- 2003 (Albuquerque, N.M.) No. 2 BYU 7, No. 4 New Mexico 6 No. 1 UNLV 12, No. 4 New Mexico 5

MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES PACIFIC):

Wednesday, May 26
Game 1: No. 4 BYU vs. No. 5 Utah, 11 a.m.
Game 2: No. 3 UNLV vs. No. 6 Air Force, 3 p.m.
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2

Thursday, May 27 Game 4: No. 2 New Mexico vs. Highest seed to advance from Wednesday, 11 a.m. Game 5: No. 1 San Diego State vs. Lowest seed to advance from Wednesday, 3 p.m. Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4

Friday, May 28 Games 7-9: (Game times 11 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m.)

Saturday, May 29 Championship, 3 p.m. (7 p.m. if necessary)

DON'T LEAVE FOR THE BALLPARK WITHOUT THEM - CAN'T MISS NOTES:

-- Thirty-three of the Lobos' 52 games have come against teams with a winning record, and 17 of those games were against teams either ranked in the Top 25 or receiving votes in the national polls

-- The Lobos have won five conference championships in their history (1953 - Skyline Eastern Division; 1958 - Skyline Eastern Division; 1962 - Skyline Eastern Division; 1985 - WAC Southern Division; 2000 - Mountain West)

MILESTONE WATCH:

-- Matt Young needs four more runs to become the fifth player in program history to collect 200 hits and 200 runs. His 130 walks are second best in the UNM record books.

Matt Young


-- Joe Salas needs one homer to move up to third all-time in the UNM record books (currently at 38). He needs two more saves to tie the all-time record of 13.

AROUND THE HORN - OFFENSIVELY: The Lobos are batting .317 as a team (second in the MWC) and are second in the league with 59 homers. The Lobos are averaging 7.5 runs a game and 11.5 hits a game.

DEFENSIVELY: The Lobos have committed 67 errors for a .966 fielding percentage, which leads the Mountain West.

PITCHING: Opponents are batting .305 against UNM pitching and have scored 385 runs (7.4 per game). UNM's staff ERA is 6.52 (fourth in the MWC). The starter's ERA is 6.24 compared to the bullpen's 6.97.

ANYWHERE, ANYTIME: According to Boyd's World (as of May 17), the Lobos have played the 72nd-toughest schedule in the nation. UNM's schedule was ranked among the top 20 entering the conference season. Thirty-three of the Lobos' 52 games have come against teams with a winning record, and 17 of those games were against teams either ranked in the Top 25 or receiving votes in the national polls

Lobo opponents have a combined 463-365 (.559) record and the non-conference opponents are an impressive 343-207 (.624) thus far. The Lobos have played 15 games against teams in the top 50 (Arizona State - 3rd; Arkansas - 13th; Texas A&M- 17th; Texas Tech - 31st; Nebraska - 35th), going 2-13 in those games.

PLAYER NOTES -

A GLANCE AT UNM'S STARTING PITCHERS: Junior Jason Fernandez will get the game ball for the first game of the tournament on Thursday at 11 a.m. PT. All other starters are TBA. Below is a look at UNM's regular starting rotation that was used during the conference season:

#28 RH JUNIOR Jason Fernandez (7-5, 4.99 ERA)

-- Hard-throwing right-hander will be making his 13th start of the season...has also made three appearances out of the bullpen

-- Second on the team with a 4.99 ERA, which is fourth best in the MWC...leads team in innings pitched (88.1) and leads MWC in league games with 69.2 innings pitched

-- Has tossed two complete games this season, both for victories (2/27 vs. Arkansas; 4/1 vs. BYU)

-- He was 6-3 with a 5.17 ERA in league play

#2 LH FRESHMAN Danny Ray Herrera (3-7, 5.72 ERA)

-- Keeps hitters off balance with off-speed pitches, including an excellent changeup

-- He was 3-4 with a 6.34 ERA in league play

-- Struck out a season-best nine in win at Air Force (4/17)

-- Picked up first collegiate victory with win over San Diego State (3/27)

-- Retired his first 18 batters in six perfect innings in victory over BYU (4/2)

-- In front of over 7,000 fans at Olsen Field against No. 14 Texas A&M on Feb. 27, he threw seven innings, struck out five, and didn't allow an earned run (two unearned) in a tough loss

-- Four of his seven losses have been one-run games

Danny Ray Herrera


#20 RH JUNIOR Cooper Eddy (5-4, 5.91 ERA)

-- Powerful pitcher who throws in the low 90's and has an excellent slider

-- Transfer from Tennessee Tech; threw his first year at Iowa Western Community College

-- Tossed seven solid innings in his last outing, striking out a season-best nine while allowing three runs and seven hits against UNLV (5/22)

-- Threw seven innings and only allowed two runs, one earned, in victory at UNLV (4/25)

-- Earned Mountain West Pitcher of the Week honors after firing a seven-hit complete game in win over UC Santa Barbara on March 7; he struck out seven and only walked one

-- Threw seven innings of one-run, four-hit ball in win over Texas Tech (3/16) to earn MWC Pitcher of the Week honors for the second time this season

-- He was 3-2 with a 6.75 ERA in league play

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 and offensive spark, is UNM's leader in runs (56) and on-base percentage (.448), and his 11 triples are sixth best in the nation. He is batting an impressive .491 (26-for-53) with runners in scoring position, which leads the Mountain West.

The fiery and competitive Young, who is hitting .364, is also moving up the career charts at New Mexico in his third year. He collected his 200th career hit in UNM's win over Utah April 9 and needs just four runs to become the fifth player in school history to reach the 200-run and 200-hit plateau.

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. He was also named to the Aggie Classic All-Tournament Team. In one of his best career performances at the plate, Young went 4-for-6 with a career-high six RBI in UNM's win over New Mexico State March 30, including a two-run homer.

A dynamic defensive player, Young owns a near-perfect fielding percentage (.993) and has made some spectacular plays in center field this 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. Young is second all-time in the UNM record books with 130 career walks.

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. The Albuquerque native is once again putting up excellent offensive numbers.

Mader, a two-time first-team All-MWC selection, polished his game over the summer playing shortstop in the Alaskan Summer Wooden Bat League. A lifetime .372 batter, Mader is second in the Mountain West with a .373 average.

He was named the MWC Player of the Week April 12 after batting .409 with three homers, and in UNM's win over Utah that same week, he went 3-for-5 with four RBI, including two homers in one inning. He garnered MWC Co-Player of the Week honors May 24 after hitting 4-for-4 with a career-high six RBI - including a grand slam - in New Mexico's 14-12 victory over UNLV May 20.

CAPTAIN PROVING HIS WORTH: Senior right-fielder Sean Murray, one of two co-captains on this year's team, is batting .337 with 30 runs driven in. A career .347 hitter, Murray has started at first base, left field and right field for the Lobos this season.

An outstanding student off the field, Murray was recently one of 77 student nationwide to earn the prestigious Truman Scholarship for his 4.20 GPA in Mechanical Engineering. He also garnered Academic All-District honors and is eligible to be an Academic All-American, which will be announced June 2. Murray missed four games last week due to his attendance at the Truman Leadership conference held in Liberty, Mo.

BARBA SOLID AT SECOND: Sophomore Ryan Barba has put together another productive offensive season from second base, typically a non-power position. Barba is batting .335 with seven homers and 36 RBI to go along with 46 runs. In league play, he hit .381.

Barba drove in five runs in one game for the third time in his career in the Air Force series, going 5-for-7 with a homer, five RBI and four runs on April 17. He tied his career high with a five RBI performance in UNM's 6-3 win over UCSB on March 7, blasting a grand slam in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and propel the Lobos to victory.

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 DOES DOUBLE DUTY: Senior lefty Joe Salas has always possessed an explosive bat in his career at UNM, but this season he is also focusing on being the Lobo closer. He has five saves this season and 11 for his career, which is second all-time in New Mexico history. Salas, who also has a 4-1 record on the mound, has 51 strikeouts in 40.2 innings pitched. His 30 appearances are second in the Mountain West.

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. The primary designated hitter in the lineup, Salas has 12 homers and 52 RBI this season to lead the team in both categories.

The senior is climbing up the career charts at UNM, as he is tied for all-time in homers (38), third in doubles (64) and fifth in RBI (185). He tied a school and Mountain West record with four doubles at Air Force on April 17, a game in which he went 5-for-6 with five runs and three RBI.

FERNANDEZ PROVIDING CONSISTENCY ON THE MOUND: Right-hander Jason Fernandez leads the team with seven victories on the mound this season and is 6-3 in MWC games. Fernandez leads the league in conference games with 69.2 innings pitched.

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. Fernandez limited the Razorbacks, who are currently ranked No. 8 in the nation, to one run and only eight base runners. He threw his second complete game in a win over BYU April 1.

STOVALL NAMED NATIONAL CO-HITTER OF THE WEEK: Freshman Daniel Stovall exploded for 12 hits, three homers, three doubles and seven RBI in the first Air Force series to earn the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association National Co-Hitter of the Week Award along with MWC Player of the Week honors on April 19. In the second Air Force, he continued his hot hitting against the Falcons, blasting three more homers. Overall, he is batting .326 with 10 homers and 29 RBI. He has started 37 games at first base after getting seven starts at third in the beginning of the year.

Stovall has provided several clutch hits this season. On April 3 against BYU, he broke an 8-8 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning with a two-out, bases-loaded single that drove in two runs in UNM's 10-8 win. In the last game of the regular season, Stovall blasted a first-pitch solo homer to lead off the bottom of the ninth, sparking a four-run rally in the Lobos' 5-4 comeback win over UNLV. Stovall's most explosive day at the plate was at Air Force on April 17, as he went 5-for-6 with five RBI, two homers and two runs scored.

Yabba, DABBA, Doo: Freshman right fielder Chris Dabbs has earned his way into the starting lineup the second half of the season with strong hitting at the plate. Dabbs drove in a season-high four RBI April 24 at UNLV to go along with three runs scored and a three-run homer. On May 6 at BYU, he went 3-for-4 with three runs and a two-run homer. The Spring Branch, Texas, native, who was also recruited by several schools (including Texas A&M and Oklahoma) to play football, is batting .312 in all games with four homers and 14 RBI.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Freshman Matt Foote worked his way in becoming the starting third baseman late in the season with a solid glove and timely hitting. Foote, whose father played at UNM from 1976-80 and currently broadcasts Lobo games, led the team in conference games with a .429 batting average. In his 19 MWC games, Foote also hit an astounding .619 (13-for-21) with runners in scoring position. Overall, he is fourth on the team with a .351 average and 16 RBI.

EDDY NAMED MOUNTAIN WEST PITCHER OF THE WEEK...AGAIN: Junior right-hander Cooper Eddy has earned Mountain West Pitcher of the Week honors twice this season. Overall, he is 5-4 with a 5.91 ERA. Against UNLV earlier this season, he threw seven strong innings on April 25, allowing two runs on six hits to pick up the victory.

On March 16, Eddy 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.

SPIT THIS: Sophomore catcher A.J. Spitaleri is second on the team with a .366 batting average to go along with four homers and 16 RBI. A.J. was on fire in the first Air Force series, batting 7-for-9 with five runs, two homers and three RBI in his two games of action. Spitaleri is batting .352 in his two years thus far at UNM. He tied a career high with four hits at San Diego State May 2, going 4-for-6 with two homers, three RBI and three runs scored. The native of Raytown, Mo., hit .382 in Mountain West games.

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