The Lobo Beat

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UNM Baseball: Lobos lose two of three against Washington

The Lobos were scheduled to take on UNLV at home this past weekend in a three-game series that was canceled due to a covid-19 issue with the Rebels. 

Instead of playing against a conference foe at home, the Lobos pivoted to a last-minute series on the road against a talented Washington Huskies team. 

In addition to the schedule change, UNM players learned earlier in the week that coach Ray Birmingham, the winningest coach in New Mexico baseball history and the manager for the school for the past 14 seasons, will retire following the conclusion of the 2021 campaign.

All things considered, the Lobos should not have been much of a match for a Washington team that took two of three games against the No.10 ranked UCLA Bruins earlier this month.

Don’t tell that to coach B and the Lobos.

UNM battled the Huskies in all three games of the series, taking Washington to extra innings in two of the three games.

Washington won the opening game of the weekend with a 4-3 victory in ten innings on Friday in Seattle. 

New Mexico would respond with their own extra-inning victory on Saturday, highlighted by three consecutive RBI hits by Connor Mang, Mack Chambers, and Kyler Castillo to plate three Lobos in the top of the 12th. Washington would rally with a run in their half of the inning, but it proved to be not enough as the Lobos held on to a 5-3 win.

The Lobos jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the rubber match of the series on Sunday, with a run in the top of the third and fourth innings. The Huskies responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game, capped by an RBI single by infielder Will Simpson.

The two teams played three more innings of scoreless baseball before the Huskies won the game in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off single by Simpson, who drove in two of the three Washington runs on the day.

“These kids battle their butts off and just need a break,” said head coach Ray Birmingham in a quote to GoLobos.com

“Washington came off of beating UCLA in a series, and we had our chances to take this one. Not an easy week for us as Texas Tech is loaded, and then we get back home for Fresno State. We have to keep fighting.”

With the loss, the Lobos fell to 9-16 on the year. They continue the 2021 season against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Wednesday before heading home for a four-game series against Fresno State at Santa Ana Star Field. 

Ray Birmingham to reitre

Coach Ray Birmingham to retire after the 2021 season

University of New Mexico head baseball coach Ray Birmingham will step down at the conclusion of the 2021 season, ending an impressive 43-year coaching career, including 14 seasons at the helm of the Lobos baseball program.

A 2015 inductee into the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame, Coach Birmingham is the winningest coach in New Mexico baseball history, with 1,224 wins over his illustrious career.

“I want to thank the people of New Mexico for being so good to me for so long,” said Birmingham in a release from the school.

“I have always believed that New Mexico kids can do just as much as anybody else in the country, and I have committed my entire life to prove that and helping them prove that. I have always believed in leaving it better than you found it, and I feel good that I have done that”

One hundred sixty-seven different players who played under coach Birmingham went on to play at the professional level, including 39 Lobos.

In addition to his time coaching in New Mexico, Birmingham spent the summer of 2014 as the hitting coach for USA Baseball’s Colligate National Team and has coached at numerous baseball clinics in the USA and abroad.

A legend on the diamond and in the community, Birmingham will be greatly missed by Lobo fans and the many members of the New Mexico baseball community he touched over the years.

Paul Weir Article Image

A New Turn Should Heed College Sports Fans

Too many college sports fans here in Albuquerque and our state of New Mexico aren’t paying enough attention to the recently passed Student Athlete Endorsement Act that goes into effect on July 1. I know it’s not a sexy topic like the New Mexico United about to kick off their season or the transactional nature of a new player or coach joining or leaving the Lobos or Aggies. But the developments we discussed yesterday on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM are incredibly powerful conversations that can become seriously impactful to the college sports we all love so much.

Why is this suddenly big news? Because here in New Mexico, Republican Senator Mark Moores is spearheading a bipartisan effort, and on a national scale, Justice Brett Kavanaugh has demonstrated harsh criticism towards the NCAA from his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Though the comments being made aren’t anything new, this conversation has been going on for decades – it is who it is coming from that is important.

Research will suggest to you that more of the college athletics donors and local politicians that are supportive of the college sports programs we love are Republican. On the other hand, those that are more likely to question intercollegiate athletics and its systems are Democrat. DISCLAIMER: I did not say always (for some of you please take a breath), just more likely

The questioning of the power and money of the NCAA and its member institutions has gone on far enough under the radar that you, the casual or even serious sports fan, didn’t know or care much about it. You have been largely informed that the athletes get more than enough compensation, and how dare they ask for more. They should appreciate what they get! That type of conversation has been perpetuated for decades to ward off any kind of significant change to the current college sports system. As long as that support was being upheld by the right people with money and power, there was little athletes or advocates could do about it.

But to have Moores and Kavanaugh speak out challenging this image and because of where they are making those comments from – the right side of the aisle – this is significant. It is rare to find voices of this orientation making comments that could be detrimental to the power structure that keeps the NCAA and its member schools going. Where this goes from here, no one can predict. Some see it as being the end of enormous coaching salaries, others as the long-term death of non-revenue generating sports, and there are those that believe this will benefit everyone in college sports because it’s making it a more equitable place for the kids we cheer on (and unfortunately sometimes boo). Regardless of the specific outcome, if you love college sports, this is a topic you should start to follow because it will eventually impact your favorite team whether you agree with the cause or not.

 

New Mexico State Senator Mark Moores joined Joe O’Neill, Paul Weir, and Sam Hauser on TEAM Talk to discuss the Student Athlete Endorsement Act. Below is the full interview.

UNM Lobo Baseball

UNM Baseball: Lobos and Wolf Pack spit double header

The University of New Mexico Lobos played host to the University of Nevada Wolf Pack in a doubleheader on Saturday at Santa Ana Star Field.

The 1000 or so fans in attendance were treated to 54 combined hits, 27 combined runs, and a pair of close games that included a walk-off win for the home team in game one of the three-game series.

UNM rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth to force extras, only then needing to plate another two runs in the bottom of the tenth to stay alive.

After Cody Dye held the Wolf Pack scoreless in their half of the 11th inning, the Lobos needed just one run to secure the win and walk off with another victory team selfie.

Willie Cano started the 11th off with a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Connor Mang to third base after Mang started the inning on second in accordance with extra-inning rules.

Catcher Jarrett Gonzales came up to the plate with a chance to drive in Mang and give the Lobos their seventh win of the season and their fifth win in Mountain West Conference play.

The 5-10, 195-pound senior from San Antonio, Texas, did not waste the opportunity for walk-off glory, with a single to left field that scored Mang in UNM’s 6-5 win.

Justin Armbruester took the mound in game two for the Lobos and continued his 2021 dominance with 11 strikeouts and three hits allowed over five and one-third innings. His 42 strikeouts over 31 innings pitched entering yesterday’s game placed him 16th in the nation in strikeouts.

Armbruester’s five solid innings gave the Lobos every opportunity to win, but the Wolf Pack offense managed to score seven of their nine runs in the final three frames of the game, including four runs in the top of the eighth to secure the win.

The Lobos would tie the game at seven in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run single by pinch hitter Connor Mang, giving UNM hope that they could replicate their late-inning magic from game one.

Unfortunately for Lobo fans, the Wolf Pack scored two runs in the top of the ninth off of UNM relievers Payton Strambler and Isaiah Campa. 

Strambler was tagged for the loss after hitting and walking the only two batters he faced in the inning. Both runners would eventually score. 

The two teams face off in the rubber match of the three-game series on Sunday at noon. Fans can listen to all of the exciting action on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM and streaming online on the TEAM App and at www.1017theteam.com.

Image Credit: UNM Lobo Baseball Twitter 

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Richard Pitino UNM contract details

Fans and players were introduced to new UNM men’s head basketball coach Richard Pitino today at an outdoor press conference at University Stadium.

Pitino outlined the type of program he plans on running at the university, stating that “My goal is offensively and defensively, they’re very similar in a lot of ways. Offensively, we want our team to play with great freedom but with great discipline. Defensively, we want to make teams uncomfortable. Most importantly, we came here to win championships”.

Pitino’s words were exactly what a starving fan base wanted to hear: A coach that wants to pack the Pit, recruit well, and bring a Mountain West Title back o UNM.

Before that can happen, the nuts and bolts of his contract needed to be worked out. The University just released the details of Pitino’s 6-year contract, although buyout language has not been agreed to at this time.

Base Salary: $400,000
Contract Term: Six (6) Years
Anticipated Start Date of Term: April 1, 2021

Media Relations: $200,00 per year
Program Promotion: $175,000 year one, $200,000 years 2-6
Relocation Expenses: One‐time payment not to exceed $25,000, plus applicable in‐kind or no cost services and accommodations (e.g., temporary housing) provided by University to Coach.
Courtesy Car
Country Club Membership Sports Tickets
Total Compensation: $4,975,000