ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – UNM senior right-hander Josh Walker has enjoyed tremendous success during his three seasons as a Lobo: Second Team All-Mountain West in 2012, an 11-1 record with seven saves in 2013, and a Preseason All-American in 2014. Thursday night against Air Force he has a chance to add another accolade to his career: tying the record for most wins in both UNM and Mountain West history.
“If you would’ve asked me that I’d have an opportunity to hold the wins record when I first got here my sophomore year, I wouldn’t have guessed it,” he said. “I’m thankful for it and for everyone that has supported me. It’s a great honor.”
Rob Hoover, who pitched for the Lobos from 1976-79, owns the school mark with 27 wins. Kyle Winkler, formerly of TCU, won 27 games from 2009-11 to set the MW record.
“Mr. Hoover set a really high record,” Walker continued, “and as a pitcher you can’t be successful without your teammates behind you or a great offense. … I’m really thankful for this program, my coaches and my teammates.”
A native of Rio Rancho, N.M., Walker began his first two seasons as a Lobo in the bullpen and has also racked up eight career saves: one in 2012 and seven last season. That is tied for eighth most in program history. He has appeared in 60 games for the Lobos with 28 starts and 32 relief appearances. In those games UNM is a staggering 42-18 for a .700 winning percentage. His personal winning percentage is second all-time at UNM at .765 (26-8), and his .917 (11-1) winning percentage in 2013 is the third best in Lobo history.
Needless to say, Walker has been as vital to the success of UNM as any pitcher who has ever worn the Cherry and Silver. Below is a brief game-by-game look at all 26 wins of Walker’s career to date.
1. March 16, 2012 – After starting his career 0-2, Walker pitches four innings of relief at Isotopes Park against San Diego State with three strikeouts and no walks as UNM rallies for an 11-9 victory.
2. March 30, 2012 – In just his second career start Walker throws a complete game at Fresno State with five strikeouts as UNM defeats the Bulldogs 9-3.
3. April 6, 2012 – Settling into the Saturday starter role, Walker strikes out a career-high 10 batters in seven innings of two-run ball over Air Force. He does not walk a batter for his fifth straight appearance and UNM wins 17-2.
4. April 14, 2012 – In the second game of a doubleheader at San Diego State, Walker limits the Aztecs to two runs over six innings as the Lobos win 11-4.
5. April 21, 2012 – Walker ties a season high with nine hits allowed, but holds Florida Gulf Coast to just three runs in five innings to help guide the Lobos to a 12-6 victory.
6. April 28, 2012 – Walker wins his fifth straight start by pitching eight innings against UNLV at Isotopes Park. He strikes out seven as UNM wins 16-5.
7. May 18, 2012 – Walker starts the regular-season finale and earns the win as UNM clinches a share of its first regular-season conference title since 2000. He limits Air Force to one run in seven innings as part of a 9-1 Lobo victory.
8. May 26, 2012 – Starting in the championship game of the Mountain West Tournament, Walker holds San Diego State to one earned run in seven innings as the Lobos romp 22-3 and win their second straight Mountain West Tournament title.
9. March 5, 2013 – Beginning the season in the bullpen again, Walker earns his first win of 2013 by tossing three shutout innings of relief over LaSalle at Isotopes Park as part of a 16-3 UNM win.
10. March 19, 2013 – In the first game of a doubleheader, Walker throws two shutout innings in a 6-5, 11-inning victory over Missouri State.
11. April 14, 2013 – Walker allows two runs in 4.1 innings of relief against Fresno State to earn his first win at Lobo Field. The Lobos defeated the Bulldogs 4-3.
12. April 21, 2013 – Walker limits Nevada to one earned run in three innings of relief as the Lobos rally in the ninth to earn a 15-11 victor over the Wolf Pack in Reno.
13. April 27, 2013 – Walker allows three runs in 2.1 innings of relief but earns the win as UNM pulls out a 5-3 victory over UNLV at Lobo Field.
14. April 28, 2013 – Walker pitches a scoreless 10th inning as UNM walks off with a 14-13 victory over the Rebels at Lobo Field.
15. May 3, 2013 – Earns the win in his fourth straight appearance by pitching one inning against Air Force. He allowed two earned runs but got the victory when the Lobos rallied for an 11-10 win.
16. May 5, 2013 – Pitches three innings of relief against Air Force to earn his second win of the series. He allowed two runs as the Lobos won 14-7.
17. May 10, 2013 – For the second straight year he tosses a complete game at Fresno State in his first start of the season. He strikes out six, allows just three hits and doesn’t walk a batter as the Lobos win 9-0.
18. May 16, 2013 – Allows three runs in five innings at San Diego State as part of a 14-6 win in the last series of the regular season.
19. May 23, 2013 – Nearly pitches a complete game in the Mountain West Tournament against Nevada, but settles for 8.2 innings of work that saw him allow three runs and toss a season-high 115 pitches. He moves his record to an astounding 11-0 on the season.
20. Feb. 23, 2014 – Earns his first career win in the month of February by tossing a complete-game shutout over Missouri State at Lobo Field. He struck out three and did not walk a batter as UNM won 7-0.
21. March 2, 2014 – In the second game of a doubleheader against Northern Colorado, Walker nearly pitches his second straight complete game. He allowed just one run in 8.0 innings as the Lobos won 8-1.
22. March 23, 2014 – Allows three runs in 8.0 innings of work against San Jose State as the Lobos defeat the Spartans 9-4.
23. March 30, 2014 – Helps UNM earn the series win at Air Force by allowing three runs, two earned, in 7.1 innings against the Falcons. The Lobos held on for a 5-3 victory.
24. April 13, 2014 – Pitches the third complete game of his career against Fresno State and allows just one run on four hits while throwing a career-high 118 pitches. UNM defeats the Bulldogs 4-1.
25. April 19, 2014 – Earns his second win in a week by pitching 7.1 innings at San Jose State. He gives up six runs, his most ever in a win, but is backed by a solid offense and UNM wins 11-6.
26. May 9, 2014 – Tosses 7.0 innings at Nevada and allows three runs to move within one win of both the UNM and MW career record.
Walker’s wins the numbers:
Isotopes Park wins: 6
Lobo Field wins: 9
Road wins: 9
Neutral wins: 2
MW wins: 20*
Non-conference wins: 6
Wins by opponent: Air Force (5), San Diego State (4), Fresno State (4), UNLV (3), Nevada (3), Missouri State (2), San Jose State (2), Florida Gulf Coast (1), LaSalle (1), Northern Colorado (1)
* includes two Mountain West Tournament wins (UNM has won 56 conference games the last three seasons, including Tournament games – Walker has won over a third of them)