Stevens: Birmingham Not Happy With Lobos 9-0 Loss To TCU
May 19, 2011
Lobo Baseball - At Isotopes Park
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The good thing about playing baseball for Coach Ray Birmingham is that the fiery Lobo has your back - when you deserve it. If your efforts aren't backed by passion, focus, energy and hard work - well, Birmingham has a backhand.
The Lobos got a taste of that backhand Thursday afternoon at Isotopes Park when the Lobos sleepwalked through a 9-0 rollover to the No. 7 TCU Horned Frogs. Birmingham understands the impressive talent that the Frogs come with on the mound and at the plate. He doesn't understand incomplete effort.
"If you don't want to wear the (Lobo) cherry and silver, I'll find someone who does," Birmingham said after the Mountain West Conference loss to the TCU club which already has clinched the MWC regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in next week's MWC tourney in San Diego.
"That effort wasn't good enough for me," Birmingham continued. "That bothers me. As time goes on, I'll make adjustments."
The Frogs are in Albuquerque for a three-game series with UNM. The MWC tourney begins Tuesday at San Diego State's Tony Gwynn Stadium. All MWC tourney games will be telecast live on MountainWest Sports Network - The Mtn. The Lobo games at the MWC tourney can be picked up on the radio waves of ESPN Radio 101.7 (FM) The TEAM.
TCU methodically rolled to the shutout behind 13 hits, three home runs, and solid pitching from four Horned Frogs: Matt Purke (W), Kyle Winkler, Teddy Nowell and Tyler Duffie. UNM's Rudy Jaramillo (4-8) took the loss for UNM. He got relief work from Bobby Mares and Austin House, who combined to give up six TCU runs.
UNM scattered six hits with Alex Allbritton and Quay Grant each getting two hits. Birmingham wasn't pleased with UNM's hitting performance, but also blamed the loss on non-aggression, little mistakes, lack of focus and "taking pitches and plays off."
"It's been that way all year," said Birmingham. "Maybe this schedule has beaten them up. But we've played No. 7-type teams all year and I was hoping they would rise to the competition. Maybe the travel has gotten to them. I don't know. "
The Lobos were looking at the TCU series to form some momentum to carry into the MWC tourney, which offers an automatic bid to the survivor. That bid is UNM's only path to the NCAA postseason. The young Lobos are 16-37 on the year and 10-12 in MWC play. TCU is now 38-15 and 18-3 in league.
Losing to TCU shouldn't hurt any team's confidence as the Frogs went into the season as preseason No. 1 picks in several polls. But Birmingham says his Lobos need to show more energy and passion for the game - and for the uniform on their backs.
The Frogs struck first and early by punching in two runs in the top of the first inning. TCU's Jantzen Witte pounded a double to left field and was plated by Jason Coats' double. Coats scored on a single by Joe Weik, who reached second when UNM's Luke Campbell bobbled the ball. Weik was stranded on second.
TCU added a run in the fifth on a Jimmie Pharr blast over the left-field wall to go up 3-0. The Frogs went up 4-0 in the top of the sixth. It could have been worse for the Lobos. TCU had the bases jammed with no outs and loaded again with one out.
UNM's Bobby Mares, relieving for starter Rudy Jaramillo, worked himself into the jam giving up two singles, a hit batter, and a walk. He worked himself out of the jam by getting two Frogs to pop out for the second and third outs.
The game was delayed in the bottom of the seventh inning when a DJ Peterson foul down the third-base line bounced up into that umpire's face. The ump stayed down for several minutes and eventually left the field.
Mares wasn't so fortunate in the seventh inning. He got two quick outs and then put two Frogs on the bag with a walk and another hit batter. TCU's Taylor Featherston made Mares pay for those mistakes with a three-run blast to left.
Mares then gave up a double and lost the mound to Austin House, who inherited two outs and a Frog on second. House got a strikeout to end the frame. UNM left the inning down 7-0.
The Frogs weren't finished with the scoreboard. Coats led off the top of the ninth with a grounder into the hole to the right of UNM shortstop Alex Allbritton. Coats was safe on a bang-bang play at first. UNM's House got a strikeout and then TCU's Joe Weik sent a two-run bomb over the left field wall.
UNM went into the bottom of the ninth down 9-0 and it stayed that way.