Lobo Baseball - at Lobo Field
When: Friday - 6 p.m. (MT), Saturday - 2 p.m. (MT), Sunday - 1 p.m. (MT), Monday - 1 p.m. (MT)
Who: San Diego State Aztecs (Friday-Sunday), Utah Valley (Monday)
GoLobos.com: Live stats,box score, live stream, postgame recap and stats
Video: Each game will be streamed live at GoLobos.com
Radio: ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM will broadcast all three games against the Aztecs but not the Monday game against Utah Valley
Mountain West Standings
|Place||School||MW record||Overall record|
|4||San Diego St.||12-9||31-14|
|6||San José St.||7-17||
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The home stretch. There's no better way to describe the final three weeks of the regular season for the University of New Mexico baseball team. The Lobos have 10 regular-season games remaining, seven of which are at home. They are currently tied in percentage points with UNLV for first in the Mountain West, but UNM controls its own destiny. If they win their nine remaining league games, they will be champions. (UNLV has only six conference games left.)
That won't be easy, though, especially this weekend when the Lobos welcome San Diego State to Lobo Field. It's the only meeting between the teams in the regular season, and the Aztecs enter the series with the best overall record in the conference at 32-14 (narrowly edging out UNM's 32-14-1 mark). Picked as co-favorites in the conference by the coaches in the preseason along with the Lobos, SDSU currently sits in fourth place in the conference, but only two games behind the Lobos. Although they're in first, the Lobos can finish as low as fifth, but UNM is determined to win its third straight regular-season title.
Despite their gaudy record, the Aztecs have struggled on the road this season, going just 9-10 away from home. In fact, they have only won one game outside the state of California all season, a 5-2 win at UNLV on March 22.
Following the series against SDSU, UNM will host Utah Valley for an afternoon game Monday at 1. The Wolverines are currently in third in the WAC and play at New Mexico State this weekend. For now, though, UVU will have to wait, as the Lobos' entire focus is getting back on track and winning a MW series against the Aztecs.
• SCOUTING SAN DIEGO STATE ... The Aztecs own the best overall record in the Mountain West at 31-14, slightly better than UNM’s 31-14-1 mark. SDSU has, however, struggled on the road. They are just 9-10 away from home, but have handed UNLV one of its two home losses on the season.
The offense is well rounded and the Aztecs have multiple weapons that can hurt you. Sophomore Ty France is the most dangerous hitter, leading the team with a .362 average and 18 doubles, but senior Tim Zier (.345, 11 doubles), junior Greg Allen (.322, 22 steals), sophomore Seby Zavala (.308, .420 slugging) and junior catcher Brad Haynal (.290, nine home runs) are all capable of big hits. The Aztecs are batting .286 as a team and are averaging 5.7 runs per game. They’re also very dangerous on the base paths, having stolen 59 bags in 83 attempts.
The rotation will feature sophomore righty Bubba Derby (5-2, 2.14, 70 Ks), junior lefty Michael RoBards (4-3, 4.60, 43 Ks) and another sophomore right-hander in Mark Seylar (7-3, 3.34, 63 Ks). The trio anchors a staff that owns a 3.54 ERA and is holding opponents to a .262 average. The bullpen is anchored by flamethrower and former starter Michael Cederoth. The big junior righty is 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA and 16 saves in 24 appearances this season. In 37.1 innings he has struck out 45, but control issues continue to plague him at times as he has walked 23, tied for most on the team.
As is typically the case, the Aztecs are once again one of the best defensive teams in the conference. They lead the way with a .971 fielding percentage. Allen covers a lot of ground in center and has a great arm, while Zier is one of the best defensive second basemen in the conference.
• SCOUTING UTAH VALLEY ... The Wolverines entered the weekend after just having a five-game winning streak snapped by BYU on Tuesday. They are third in the WAC heading into their series against New Mexico State.
UVU has struggled offensively at times this year, hitting just .248 as a team. They also strike out a lot (328 times) and don’t walk much (just 123 free passes). They’re averaging less than five runs per game as well. Sophomore first baseman Mark Krueger (.299, 11 doubles, four homers, 27 RBIs) and sophomore outfielder Craig Brinkerhoff (.287, 12 doubles, four triples, five homers) lead the way.
Projected starter Devin Nelson is 3-5 on the year with a 5.17 ERA in 13 games, including nine starts. He has walked 23 and struck out 23 in 55.2 innings. The Wolverine staff as a whole has walked nearly as many batters (172) as it has struck out (176). UVU owns a team ERA of 4.97.
The Wolverines have one of the better defensive outfields in the nation. They rank tied for sixth in the country in outfield assists with 14. Junior Jordy Hart is tied for third in the nation with eight outifeld assists.
• WATCH OUT FOR SANCHEZ ... UNM’s sophomore right-handed closer Victor Sanchez was named to the Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List by the NCBWA on Wednesday, April 23. He is one of 50 players on the list for the award, which is given annually to the top reliever in Division I. He is also one of just two pitchers from the MW to be named to the watch list.
• ... AND HOLLEY TOO ... Sanchez isn’t the only UNM sophomore on a major award’s watch list. Shortstop Jared Holley was named to the Brooks Wallace Award watch list on Firday, April 25. The award is given to the best shortstop in the nation by the College Baseball Foundation. It’s the second straight year a Lobos has been on the watch list as former Lobo Alex Allbritton was named to it in 2013.
• ENTERING THE RANKINGS ... On Monday, April 21, the Lobos were ranked No. 24 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 30 by the NCBWA. This is now the fifth year out of the last six that the Lobos have been nationally ranked by a publication at some point during the season.
• YOUTH IS SERVED... Of UNM’s top seven hitters, Chase Harris is the only senior and four of the seven are underclassmen: two freshmen (Danny Collier and Andre Vigil), two sophomores (Sam Haggerty and Jared Holley). Also, all of UNM’s top four relievers are either first- or second-year players.
• BULLPEN DOMINANCE ... Teams should be put on notice that if UNM takes a lead into the seventh inning, they are in trouble. UNM is an astounding 27-0 when leading after six and 28-0 when leading after eight thanks to an outstanding bullpen. Lobo relievers own a 3.09 ERA this season and is led by a quartet of performers, all of whom are in just their first or second year in the program. Closer Victor Sanchez is 1-0 with a team-leading seven saves in 14 relief appearances this season. He has struck out 18 and allowed just two runs in 20.2 relief innings for a microscopic 0.87 ERA. Freshman Carson Schneider is UNM’s go-to lefty out of the pen, having made 18 relief appearances and owning a 3.54 ERA over 20.1 innings. Sophomore Taylor Duree has been the workhorse, leading the team with 23 relief appearances and 27.1 innings out of the pen. He is 2-0 with one save and a 2.96 ERA. Junior Jake Cole is 2-0 with three saves and a 3.14 ERA in 16 relief appearances spanning 28.2 innings. He is the Lobos’ strikeout leader out of the pen, fanning 30 batters on the year.