It will be a fitting finale for the New Mexico baseball team’s senior class this upcoming weekend.
Of course, they would prefer if their season continues a little while longer this time around.
Three years ago as freshmen they took part in an NCAA Regional in Fullerton, Calif., for the Lobos’ first postseason trip in over 40 years.
This weekend they will head back to Southern California to open the 2013 postseason against Arizona State on Friday at 5 p.m.
“Honestly it feels good,” said senior third baseman Alex Allbritton (.321, 2 HR, 38 RBI). “I had a great time at Fullerton my freshman year. I thought it was a lot of fun playing there. We played well. We didn’t get the result we wanted, that’s for sure but I’m excited to go back again.”
UNM defeated Stanford 9-5 back in 2010 but lost 6-4 to Minnesota and 11-3 to host Cal State Fullerton. This time around they will face a perennial Pac-12 power in ASU (35-20-1).
The Lobos do have one advantage as junior first baseman D.J. Peterson (.411, 18 HR, 70 RBI) said he is familiar with the Sun Devils’ projected starter, right-hander Trevor Williams (5-6, 4.17 ERA).
“I played with their guy that we’re going to see, Trevor Williams, on Team USA (last summer) so I’ve got a good feel for him,” Peterson said.
The Lobos (37-20) earned an at-large bid to the tournament based upon their regular-season Mountain West title. They could not repeat as MWC Tournament champions after losing to San Diego State 8-7 on Saturday and 9-4 on Sunday.
“We thought we should have easily won that tournament but it turned out we didn’t,” Peterson said. “So San Diego State played well, they deserved it, they outplayed us in the last days. Congratulations to them.”
Senior catcher Mitch Garver (.387, 5 HR, 65 RBI) said the Lobos were not caught off guard by the Aztecs, they were just unable to strike for their usual big innings against a good pitching staff.
“They were able to minimize damage,” Garver said. “In one game we lined out seven times, I think it was, with the bases loaded or runners in scoring position. We left an obscene amount of runners on base.”
That bitter disappointment is something the team wants to use as motivation.
“The lessons learned are we have to just keep fighting,” Allbritton said. “We had a lot of good moments in the tournament, that’s for sure. We pretty much dominated two of the games.
“We’ll take away that we got the losses out of the way at this point and I think we’re still playing well.”
UNM lost 4-3 to Arizona State back on March 13 but it is hard to take much from a midweek contest.
“I think we have a good chance of beating them,” Allbritton said. “It’s hard to tell on a midweek game pitching-wise.”
The biggest question facing the Lobos is clearly on the mound. After junior Josh Walker (11-0, 3.91) and senior Sam Wolff (7-3, 3.05), the rotation has been shaky at best. In a double-elimination regional, depth is a major key in terms of a team’s chances of advancing.
“The depth is a tough one to talk about,” Garver said. “We have two or three guys out of the bullpen we can trust most of the time and we have two starters that are as good as anybody.”
Big West champion and host Cal State Fullerton (48-8) will take on Ivy League champion Columbia (27-19) in the other opening game at 8 p.m. on Friday.