Lobo Baseball - at Lobo Field
When: Tuesday - 6 p.m. (MT), Wednesday - 1 p.m. (MT)
Who: No. 18 Kansas Jayhawks
GoLobos.com: Live stats, live stream, box score, postgame recap and stats
Video: Both games will be streamed live on GoLobos.com
Radio: ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM will broadcast both games live
Mountain West Standings
|Place||School||MW record||Overall record|
|2||San Diego St.||4-2||15-4|
|5||San Jose St.||3-6||
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Coming off a three-game sweep at Fresno State, the University of New Mexico baseball team returns home playing as well as it has all season. Against the Bulldogs the Lobos got key two-out hits with men on base to drive in runs that had been eluding them all season. They'll need to continue getting those hits if they're to beat the 18th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, who come to Lobo Field for a two-game set.
KU took two of three at then-No. 10 Texas last weekend and is road-tested early in the season. The Jayhawks (14-5) have played just one game at home, an 8-7 loss to Oral Roberts on March 11. They've played six road games and 12 neutral-site games already, so they should not be fazed by a trip to Lobo Field, no matter how successful the Lobos have been at their new home.
The Jayhawks, who own a 2.97 staff ERA, will turn to junior righty Drew Morovick on Tuesday and freshman right-hander Jon Hander on Wednesday. Morovick has made five appearances, four starts, and is 3-0 with a 3.04 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 23.2 innings. Hander, on the other hand, has only thrown one inning this season.
UNM will counter with freshman righty Preston Ryan on Tuesday. Ryan made his first career start in his hometown of Tempe, Ariz., against Arizona State last week and has only appeared in two games thus far. UNM's Wednesday starter has not yet been determined.
• SCOUTING KANSAS ... The Jayhawks have enjoyed a solid start to their 2014 campaign, posting a 14-5 record with wins over Stanford and Texas. Before posting a 6-1 win in its series finale at Texas on Sunday, KU had played five straight one-run games, and been on the wrong end of the outcome four times. The Jayhawks have spent most of their season on the road, having played just one home game (an 8-7 loss to Oral Roberts on March 11), six on the road and 12 at neutral sites.
The offense is solid across the board, with six regular posting batting averages of .288 or better. Junior shortstop and leadoff man Justin Protacio leads the squad with a .326 average and 20 runs. The main power threat is junior outfielder Connor McKay, who has four homers, three doubles, two triples and a team-high 28 RBIs. The Jayhawks are a very patient club with 72 walks drawn, and they don’t strike out much either (only 86 on the season).
The pitching staff boasts an ERA of 2.97 and has only allowed 69 runs (57 earned) in 19 games. Tuesday starter Drew Morovick has appeared in five games, including four starts, and owns a 3.04 ERA and 3-0 record. He has struck out 23 in 23.2 innings and walked just six. Freshman righty Jon Hander will start Wednesday. He has thrown just one inning this season and allowed one hit as he earned a save. Closing duties are primarily handled by senior righty Jordan Piche’, who is 3-0 with three saves in nine appearances. He has a 2.84 ERA in 19.0 innings and has struck out 18.
• ‘BOS KNOW PITCHING ... If the UNM pitching staff can maintain its current 3.76 ERA over the rest of the season, it will post the third lowest ERA in the history of the program. The 1968 team posted a 2.87 ERA and in 1969 the Lobos had a 3.40 ERA. The 2014 staff is doing this despite being on pace to set a school record for most innings pitched.
Despite pitching a mile above sea level, UNM has been particularly dominant at home, posting a 1.92 ERA while holding opponents to a .224 batting average at Lobo Field.
Colton Thomson currently owns a 2.16 ERA. He’s looking to become just the fourth Lobo since 1977 to finish a season with an ERA under 3.00. Danny Ray Herrera posted a 2.24 mark in 2006, Austin House had a 2.74 ERA in 2012, and last season Sam Wolff recorded a 2.90 ERA.
• SANCHEZ EARNS MW HONOR ... Victor Sanchez was instrumental in UNM’s three-game sweep at Fresno State March 14-16, and he was rewarded with Mountain West Pitcher of the Week honors. He earned his first career save in UNM’s 9-7 come-from-behind victory Friday night. He only needed 11 pitches to set down the Bulldogs in order. Then on Sunday he earned the win by striking out three and keeping Fresno State off the scoreboard over the final 2.1 innings.
• WALKER IS JUST A NAME ... Josh Walker has always had good control, but in 2014 he has taken it to a next level. He currently has thrown the most innings in the nation without having issued a walk (37.0). In fact, he has faced 102 batters in his three home starts this season and reached only nine three-ball counts.
• BAD LUCK WITH BASES LOADED ... UNM has uncharacteristically struggled with the bases loaded this season, hitting just .190 (8-for-42). Chase Harris (2-for-6) and Andre Vigil (2-for-2) are the only Lobos with more than one hit with the bases juiced in 2014. For comparison’s sake UNM hit .333 in such situations last season, .364 in 2011 and .345 in 2010.
• 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0 ... Sixteen. That’s how many straight scoreless innings Josh Walker threw over his two starts on Feb. 23 and March 2. Walker actually made it 16.2 innings before allowing a sacrifice fly to break the streak. It was the longest scoreless innings streak for a UNM pitcher since Bobby LaFromboise threw 20 straight without allowing a run from Feb. 16 to March 2, 2007.
• HOLLEY HBP ... AGAIN ... It’s amazing that the smallest player on the Lobos, 5’6 Jared Holley, led the team with 15 HBP as a freshman in 2013, and he’s currently leading the team with five this season. That gives him 20 over the first 70 games of his career, and he’s already sniffing the top 10 in UNM history. With two more he’ll catch Scott Gracey in 10th place, and he’s already more than halfway to the school record of 38 set by Joe Salas from 2001-04.
• FOLLOW MY LEAD ... The Lobos have had their leadoff man reach in 71 of 183 innings this season for an inning-starting OBP of .388.
• NO WEAK SPOTS IN THIS LINEUP ... The Lobo offense rolls nine deep, and nothing proves that more than the production they get out of the No. 9 spot in their order. Five Lobos have combined to hit a team-high .365 (27-for-74) while occupying the last place in the lineup. Jared Holley leads the group with a .409 average (18-for-44) while batting ninth and Aaron Siple is hitting .364 (4-for-11).
• FANS FLOCK TO LOBO FIELD ... There’s no denying that UNM is becoming a baseball school with a loyal fan base. That was evidenced during the Lobos’ first home weekend of the season when 2,965 fans came to the Lobo Invite: the largest three-day crowd in Lobo Field history.