The University of New Mexico baseball team will play its first game at Santa Ana Star Field this season, hosting Niagara in a four-game slate which features a doubleheader on Saturday.
The Lobos (2-2) are coming off a series in Surprise, Arizona in which they split their four appearances. Both losses came against No. 7 Oregon State -- first in the series opener, which they led all the way up until the bottom of the ninth inning, when the Beavers scored three runs to take a 6-5 victory; and again on Monday, in the series finale, when the Lobos were shutout 5-0 by Oregon State.
But their wins were impressive. On Saturday against Minnesota, a team then ranked No. 24, the Lobos dominated in every aspect, defeating the Gophers 11-1. The Lobos had 15 hits in the game, and no players were more impressive at the plate than Jared Mang and Tanner Baker, who both went 4-for-5 at the plate. Nathaniel Garley started on the mound for UNM and pitched seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits. Both he and Mang were honored with MW Player of the week and MW Pitcher of the Week, respectively.
Against Gonzaga on Sunday, the Lobos bullpen was able to shutout the Bulldogs in the last five-and-two-thirds innings. Most notably, Chad Smith pitched in relief in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings and shutout the Zags. Malachi Emond came in as the closer in the ninth inning and retired the side. UNM went on to win 6-4.
Meanwhile, Niagara has had a tougher go of things, losing all three of its games to North Carolina A&T State University in the teams first and only series this season.
The Eagles (0-3) produced just four runs over the weekend, and no player had more than one RBI. But there has been a hot bat on the team in Max Giordano, a freshman who both pitches and plays shortstop. At the plate, however, Giordano has batted .400 and has produced one RBI in three starts this season.
For New Mexico, the Preseason All-MW team nominee Mang has been the Lobos best player at the plate. In four starts this season, he's averaging a .429 batting average; over the weekend, Mang also produced five runs, a home run, two doubles and seven RBI.
But others have produced, too.
Tanner Baker And Connor Mang, Jareds younger brother, have produced better batting averages. In three starts, Baker has led the Lobos with a .462 average, while Mang, in four starts, has a .438 average.
On the mound, both Garley and Slaten UNMs ace have shown signs of improvement this season. While Garley was awarded for his appearance over the weekend, Slaten was brilliant and methodical against Oregon State in the season opener. Slaten, in five innings against the Beavers, allowed just one hit, zero runs and struck out five batters in the process.
A time change in the series was announced prior to the start of it, and three games including the first game of the doubleheader and both Friday and Sunday games--were moved to noon, due to forecasted cold temperatures, according to a release from UNM Athletics. Game two of the doubleheader on Saturday will begin approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of game one.