Lobo Baseball - at Earl E. Wilson Stadium
When: Friday - 7:05 p.m. (MT), Saturday - 2:05 p.m. (MT), Sunday - 2:05 p.m. (MT)
Who: UNLV Rebels
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
Mountain West Standings
|Place||School||MW record||Overall record|
|4||San Diego St.||10-8||29-12|
|6||San José St.||6-15||
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - UNM finally entered the national rankings on Monday, and the 24th-ranked Lobos backed up that ranking with a 4-3 win over No. 21 Texas Tech Monday afternoon at Lobo Field. The Lobos (31-11-1, 14-4) have now won nine straight, which is the third longest current winning streak in the nation. They've also won six straight on the road, and 11 of their last 12 away from home. UNM is not scared of playing away from home, but they might be heading into an angry hornet's nest in Las Vegas, Nev., this weekend to face UNLV.
The Rebels’ current five-game losing streak is the team’s longest since dropping six straight between April 17-27, 2010. UNLV (25-15, 13-8) entered last week ranked as high as No. 16 in the nation, but a midweek loss at Arizona State was followed by the Rebels’ first sweep at the hands of Air Force since 1970 and UNLV tumbled out of the rankings.
The Rebels remain a talented team, so, if anything, their current losing streak makes them even more dangerous. The Lobos now own a four-game lead in the loss column in the Mountain West over both the Rebels and the Nevada Wolf Pack, and the Rebels know they can’t afford to fall any further behind in the standings. They’re also extremely dangerous at home, posting a 15-2 record at Earl E. Wilson Stadium in 2014.
The two teams met in Albuquerque March 7-9 and UNLV handed the Lobos their first conference loss since May 2012 by taking two of the three games. Each game was close into the late innings, though, and all three games could have gone either way. In game one the Rebels scored six runs, five of which were unearned, in the last three innings to pull away for an 8-2 victory. In game two, the Rebels again benefitted from sloppy Lobo defense and scored an unearned run in the eighth to break a tie and earn a 3-2 win. In the finale the Lobos tied the game in the eighth and, after the Rebels tallied one in the top of the 12th, scored a pair in the bottom of the frame to walk off with the victory.
"UNLV can't wait for us to get there, and we can't wait to get there," head coach Ray Birmingham said. "We want to play them. They played us early when we were young and dumb. We're a lot better now. We want to play them."
• SCOUTING UNLV ... UNLV is a solid offensive team, with seven qualifiers batting .295 or better and an overall team batting average of .288. Similar to the Lobos, there is no one player who carries the lineup. Everyone in the lineup is dangerous, as six players are slugging .400 or better and nine have homered. They do tend to strike out, however, having punched out 247 times in 40 games. (That is 21 more times than UNM in three fewer games.)
The real strength of the Rebels, though, is the pitching staff, particularly the starting pitchers. The staff owns a 2.82 ERA and is holding opponents to a .239 batting average against. All three weekend starters (Erick Fedde, John Richy and Brian Bonnell) own an ERA 2.96 or better. One place where the Rebels might be vulnerable, though, is the bullpen. While Joey Lauria (2.01, 12 appearances) and Brayden Torres (2.95, six saves) have been phenomenal, the rest of the bullpen is largely untested. The Rebels depend on their starters to get them seven or eight innings each time out. Due to the enormity of this series for UNLV, don’t be surprised to see midweek starter Kenny Oakley (3-3, 2.36, eight starts, four relief appearance) become available out of the bullpen for the Rebels.
• 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.
• 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 17 relief appearances and owning a 1.40 ERA over 19.1 innings. Sophomore Taylor Duree has been the workhorse, leading the team with 21 relief appearances and 25.2 innings out of the pen. He is 2-0 with one save and a 2.45 ERA. Junior Jake Cole is 2-0 with three saves and a 2.70 ERA in 15 relief appearances spanning 26.2 innings. He is the Lobos’ strikeout leader out of the pen, fanning 26 batters on the year.
• CHASING HARRIS ... With all the offensive talent UNM lost from last season’s team, the Lobos needed Chase Harris to become The Man for them in 2014, and that is exactly what he has done. He currently leads the nation in at bats with 187 (followed closely by Sam Haggerty tied for fourth with 182) and and is fourth in hits with 69. He also ranks third in the country with 51 RBIs. Meanwhile his 102 total bases is tops in the Mountain West, as are his 21 multi-hit games and 12 multi-RBI games, while his .369 average ranks second. He also leads the Lobos in home runs with six, triples with four, slugging (.545) and stolen bases (10).
Also, on April 18 at San Jose State he became the first Lobo since Mitch Garver on May 5, 2013, to record six RBIs in a game as UNM defeated the Spartans 14-4.
• WE WERE ONLY FRESHMEN ... The Lobos have received key contributions from many first-year players in 2014, but Danny Collier and Andre Vigil stand above the rest. Despite not starting when the season began, they now rank third and fifth on the team in batting at .342 and .325, respectively. Collier has reached base in all 28 of his starts while walking more than he has struck out. He has also leads the team with three outfield assists, including two at home plate: one against SJSU on March 22 and one at Stephen F. Austin on April 9.
Vigil, meanwhile, is third on the team with seven multi-RBI games, and had a 10-game hitting streak from March 14 to March 28. He hit .450 (18-for-40) during that stretch with nine runs, 12 RBIs and three doubles. He had five multi-hit games and struck out just three times in 44 plate appearances. He also second in the Mountain West in batting in conference games, hitting a crsip .417 (25-for-60).
• THE MAGIC NUMBER ... Six appears to be UNM’s magic number for both the offense and pitching staff this season. The Lobos are 22-0 when scoring at least six runs and 25-2-1 when holding the opponent under six runs.
• ‘BOS KNOW PITCHING ... If the UNM pitching staff can maintain its current 3.86 ERA over the rest of the season, it will post the fourth lowest ERA in the history of the program, and the lowest since 1975. 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 excellent at home, posting a 3.03 ERA while holding opponents to a .259 batting average at Lobo Field.