UNM Heads to Regionals
May 29, 2012
Lobo Baseball - NCAA Regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The Lobos travel to Los Angeles, looking to earn a trip to their first-ever Super Regional. To do so they must get through a regional with the national No. 2 overall seed in UCLA, No. 23 (USA Today/ESPN) University of San Diego, and Missouri Valley Conference Tournament champions Creighton. This is the third straight postseason appearance for UNM, and this year's squad is one of the most complete teams in school history. The Lobos currently rank fourth in the nation in team batting average at .333, and they have the lowest team ERA the school has had since 1977. They are currently on a nine-game winning streak, their longest of the season, during which they have outscored their opponents 115-39.
LOBO BASEBALL QUICK HITS
• Mountain West Champs ... The Lobos clinched a share of their first regular-season championship since 2000 with their 11-5 win over Air Force on May 19. The Lobos also won their second straight MW Tournament Championship when they defeated San Diego St. 22-3 in the championship game on Saturday, May 26. The Lobos' 36 wins ranks as seventh-most in a single season at UNM. They have now won at least 30 games in four of the past five seasons. It is their best stretch since they won at least 31 games every year between 1977 and 1980.
• Scouting San Diego ... The Toreros are coming off a 1-2 weekend series at West Coast Conference foe Pepperdine. San Diego lost 5-1 on Sunday to the Waves, which cost them the WCC championship. The Toreros finished the regular season with a 40-15 overall record and a 15-9 mark in conference play for a second-place finish. The 2012 San Diego squad is only the third team in the program's history to win 40 games in a season. Seven players hit .307 or better with third baseman Kris Bryant pacing the Toreros with a .359 average. The sophomore has 74 hits, 16 doubles, two triples, 14 home runs and 57 RBIs. San Diego was ranked No. 20 in last week's Collegiate Baseball Top 25 poll, was No. 21 in the Baseball America's Top 25 poll and was No. 23 in the USAToday/ ESPN Top 25 Poll. The pitching staff boasts a 3.25 ERA with five hurlers boasting ERAs under 3.40: Michael Wagner (2.50), James Pazos (1.53), Paul Sewald (2.83), Clavin Drummond (3.33) and Dylan Covey (3.38).
• Scouting UCLA ... The Bruins are the No. 2 overall seed, having earned their 18th NCAA Tournament berth and sixth in the last seven seasons. This is the third straight NCAA Regional held at UCLA. The Bruins (42-14, 20-10 Pac-12) are coming off a three-game sweep of USC and posted a 14-2 record in the month of May. UCLA has not lost more than two consecutive games while recording six series sweeps in 2012. Junior outfielder Jeff Gelalich paces the Bruins at the plate with a .367 batting average. Gelalich has 79 hits, eight doubles, one triple, nine home runs and 39 RBIs. Adam Plutko leads the Bruins' pitching staff. The sophomore right-hander has a 9-3 record and a 2.97 ERA in a team-high 96.2 innings pitched.
• Scouting Creighton ... The Bluejays earned an automatic bid to postseason play by winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament with victories over Indiana State, Illinois State and Southern Illinois. This is Creighton's 10th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history and the second consecutive for the Jays. Creighton is 26-28 and is led by Nick Judkins who boasts a team-best .308 average. The first baseman was one of five Bluejays named to the all-MVC Tournament Team. Mike Gerber was named tournament MVP. The sophomore outfielder has 48 hits on the season and a .247 average. Creighton's Ty Blach leads the pitching staff. Blach, a junior and preseason All-American is 6-5 with a 2.64 ERA. The left-handed hurler ranks in the top-10 in program history in strikeouts, innings pitched and ERA. The Bluejays have a deep bullpen with four men with experiences as a closer, and all have made 30 or more appearances this spring.
• We really are New Mexico ... The 2012 New Mexico baseball team has 13 players from the state of New Mexico. It is no secret coach Ray Birmingham wants to take local kids all the way to Omaha. Ever since he got to UNM, he has been a big advocate of recruiting the best local talent New Mexico has to offer.
• UNM top 40 in attendance ... The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association released its 15th weekly attendance report of the season and the New Mexico Lobos have come in at No. 38 following their last home series of the season against Air Force.
• National leaders ... As of May 29, DJ Peterson leads the nation in total bases (174), while Mitchell Garver leads all catchers in the NCAA in hits (100), batting average (.391), runs (68), total bases (163), and is tied for the lead in doubles (27).
• Golden Spikes Award semifinalist ... Sophomore DJ Peterson has been named a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist by USA Baseball. The award is given annually to the top amateur player in the country, and DJ is one of only 30 semifinalists. He currently leads the nation in total bases, is second in slugging percentage and RBIs, fourth in hits, and sixth in batting.
• Best in the (Mountain) West ... The Lobos are stacked with some of the top players in the league and nation and they've got regular-season and postseason hardware to prove it.
Eleven Lobos received All-Conference honors for their performance in league play during the regular season, including DJ Peterson and Mitchell Garver who were named MW Co-Players of the Year. Head coach Ray Birmingham collected Coach of the Year distinction. The selections were voted on by the conference's baseball coaches.
The Lobos also landed five players on the MW All-Tournament team for their performance last weekend in Las Vegas, Nev., with junior Josh Melendez being named Tournament MVP.
MW Co-Players of the Year Peterson and Garver ranked No. 1 and 2 in nine offensive categories at the conclusion of the regular season, including batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, runs batted in, doubles, total bases and total plate appearances. They tied for first in home runs with eight apiece and tied for second in triples with two each.
Peterson edged out Garver in batting average by .001 with a .446 clip at the plate. The sophomore topped the league with a .812 slugging percentage, .533 on-base percentage and 40 RBI. Garver led the league with 42 runs scored, 49 hits, 11 doubles, 88 total bases and 123 total plate appearances.
Counting all games overall, Garver and Peterson finished in the top two of eight offensive categories. Peterson became the third player in MW history to claim the overall triple-crown title with a .422 batting average, 14 home runs and 68 RBI.
Joining Peterson and Garver on the All-MW first team were junior shortstop Alex Allbritton, junior outfielder Josh Melendez, junior starting pitcher Austin House, and senior DH/utility player Ben Woodchick. Garver, Peterson, Melendez and House were unanimous first-team selections.
Three seniors highlighted the Lobos on the second team. First baseman Trey Porras, second baseman Kyle Stiner, and starting pitcher Gera Sanchez were all honored. Joining them were freshman outfielder Ryan Padilla and sophomore starting pitcher Josh Walker.
The all-conference honors were the first for all 11 Lobos. The six players on the first team and 11 players named overall set new school records for UNM. The previous high was five on the first team in 2009 and eight overall in both 2000 and 2008.
Melendez. hit .615 (8-of-13) during the MW Tournament with seven runs, four RBIs, two doubles, a triple and a stolen base to earn MVP honors.
He was joined on the All-Tournament team by Allbritton, Peterson, House and Bobby Mares.
Allbritton went 7-for-13 on the weekend for a .538 average. The Lobo shortstop scored three runs while driving in six.
Peterson recorded two home runs on the weekend, including a grand slam in the second inning of the Lobos' first game of the tournament against UNLV. His other long ball came in the first inning of the championship game against San Diego State. The sophomore posted a .357 average at the plate with a 5-for-14 performance.
House pitched a complete game against the Rebels, getting the 13-0 shutout --- his second of the year. The junior struck out seven and allowed only six hits and three walks to earn his seventh win and lower his ERA to 2.92.
Mares, the relief pitcher on the All- Tournament team, got the save in UNM's 5-2 victory over TCU. The junior came on in the seventh inning, allowing only one hit while striking out six in 2.1 innings. Mares leads the Lobos in saves this season with five.
• Historic season ... The Lobos had one of their best seasons ever in conference play. Their 18-6 record marks the second- best winning percentage in conference play, behind only 1953's 10-2 team. The six conference losses for UNM is also the fewest by the Lobos since 1979 (11-5).
• Team record-breakers ... The Lobos are threatening to break several team records this season. The team has pounded out 712 hits this year, which is the sixth-most for one season in school history. They have also recorded the sixth-most at bats in school history. One more win will tie them for the fourth-most in a single season. Their .967 fielding percentage is currently tied for fifth-best. If the Lobos win at least one game in the NCAAs they will set a new school record for most innings pitched in a single season. Their staff ERA (4.38) is also sixth-best, while they have produced the second-most strikeouts (450) in one season in UNM history. The team has also set a new school record for most saves in a season with 13.
The Lobos are also approaching several individual records. Mitchell Garver's 100 hits ranks seventh in school history. He needs seven more to move into third place. DJ Peterson's 174 total bases is tied for fifth-most in a single season, and he needs 12 more to move into second place. Rudy Jaramillo has appeared in 64 games in his Lobo ca- reer, and he needs two more to tie for fourth place all-time at UNM. One more win for both Gera Sanchez and Josh Walker will tie them for fifth-most in a single season at UNM. Bobby Mares' five saves tie him for seventh in a single season for the Lobos.
• National team ... Sophomore DJ Peterson was named to USA Baseball's National Collegiate Team on Thursday, May 24. The 22-man team is made primarily of non-draft eligible college players from across the country and based on their play from both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The team will play games in North Carolina, Cuba, and The Netherlands this summer.
• Watch out for Peterson and Garver ... Sophomore DJ Peterson has been named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the best amateur baseball player in the nation, by USA Baseball. He is also a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Award. Junior catcher Mitchell Garver has been named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List. The award is given annually to the nation's top collegiate catcher based on athletic ability, sportsmanship, team leadership and character.
• Late-inning mastery ... The Lobos have yet to lose a game this season when they have taken a lead into the seventh inning, posting a perfect 30-0 record. They have been particularly dominant in the seventh inning, outscoring opponents 64-20 in that frame.
• Situational hitting ... The Lobos are hitting an astonishing .681 (126-of-185) with a runner on third and less than two outs. They are also hitting .438 (35-of-80) with the bases loaded, and .353 (263-of-745) with two outs. As a team, they are batting .333 (712-of-2,141), and have been equally effective against lefties (.335, 183-of-547) as they have against righties (.332, 529-of-1,594).
• Follow my lead ... The Lobos have had their leadoff man reach in 215 of the 508 innings they've played so far this season. That is an on-base percentage of .423.