I was lucky enough to catch all three games between conference foes New Mexico and UNLV this weekend, and the teams were nice enough to share a little bit of everything. The two teams entered the weekend on a bit of a different note to start their years. While New Mexico was picked easily as a favorite to win the conference, they’ve had trouble holding on to leads and have stuttered out of the gates. As for UNLV, they seem to be ahead of schedule and coach Tim Chambers has them sitting at 16-5 (after Monday’s win over BYU). Friday night was a slow scoring ugly drag out game with the Lobo’s edging the Rebels in 10, 3-2. The bats we’re more alive Saturday, with a 8-7 UNLV final, that saw over half of the games runs scored in the 8th. Then Sunday provided the DJ Peterson show, as he displayed why he is the best bat in the MWC during a 12-7 Lobo series winner. And from a local boy, weather doesn’t get nicer than this around here. Impressive how they can play here come May, whew.
What I saw at Earl E. Wilson:
Friday Night – New Mexico 3 UNLV 2 F/10
Well, it was sloppy to say the least. In fact I feel that the starting pitcher’s might not get the tip of the cap they deserved from it, with both teams still at donuts through five. Lobo starter A.J. Carmen slung 6 innings and only allowing three hits, but two unearned runs hung around his neck, as the Lobo’s committed four errors on the day. UNLV starter Erick Fedde looking strong, and went 8 innings, only allowing five hits, but two runs to his tally as well.
- Who Impressed? – New Mexico Lobo’s
- A.J. Carmen – SP – A great outing, you couldn’t ask for more. He doesn’t have a lot to show for his effort, but he only walked one, and hit one, and gave up 0 earned runs. Carmen’s biggest hiccup was a throwing error of his own. Overall command was strong.
- Josh Melendez – OF – Melendez had a smooth swing and came up with big hits tonight. Two RBI’s including a big RBI double in the 10th, the game-winning run.
- Bullpen Bullpen Bullpen – Will Mathis, Taylor Duree, Gabe Aguilar, and Josh Walker came combined to only allow one hit in four innings of work. They controlled the Rebels walking none, the hit going to freshman Joey Armstrong in the 10th.
- Who Impressed? – UNLV Rebels
- Erick Feddie – SP – Like I said, he didn’t get the support he needed and tossed 8 very strong innings. His weakness was free bases that came back to bite him big time, four walks and two hit batters. Other than that, at times he seemed to work smoothly and pitch where he wanted to. Didn’t let DJ Peterson hurt him either.
- Matt McCallister – 2B – Now his official stat line isn’t something that pops out, he had one of UNLV’s season low 4 hits in 2 AB. What stood out to me was McCallister’s approach at the plate and his glove. He attacks the ball at second and has a strong arm for the position.
Game Two, Saturday – UNLV 8 New Mexico 7
Who Impressed? – UNLV Rebels
- Mark Shannon – CF – I’m putting Shannon here, because he is pretty damn good. Two-for-three on the day including a huge 2-run eighth inning homerun, all of which was needed as the Rebels barely held on.
- Erik VanMeetren – C – Coming in to the year, this wasn’t even outright his job. The now sophomore looked overwhelmed at the plate last year. This year, much more confident and seems to be swinging at good pitches. Saturday he went 2-for-4 with two RBI’s. He has a lot of room to grow, but good to see he is taking ownership of the job behind the dish.
Who Impressed? – New Mexico Lobo’s
- Ryan Padilla – DH – Padilla had himself a nice afternoon, going 2-for-4 with two RBI’s. Padilla makes it here because of his two-run shot in the 2nd inning. I mean, this was an instant no doubt blast. Padilla turned on a inside pitch and displayed his power.
- Alex Real – 1B – Real isn’t the prettiest player, but who needs to be? He was just a thorn in the Rebel pitchers sides, getting on base four times, adding two hits and an RBI.
Game Three, Sunday – New Mexico 12 UNLV 7
Who Impressed? – New Mexico Lobos
- DJ Peterson – 3B – Shame on me for waiting so long to talk DJ Peterson, right? Holy smokes, this kid can hit. He is a swinger, that’s for sure, but he doesn’t go down on strikes often, in fact he’s 1/2 K/BB this season. He put up eight RBI’s on the Rebels Sunday, large in part to two home runs, (Three run, Grand Slam). Don’t make mistakes against this kid, just don’t. The first one I think was still going up when it cleared the wall. I could hear it screaming. The 2nd one took it’s sweet time to be deposited over the left-center wall.
- Chase Harris – RF – Not the best day ever, 2-for-5 with one RBI, but three runs scored from the leadoff spot. Harris gives them good at bats, and handles the leadoff spot very well. Also has the ability to go the other way when he wants to, does a good job taking what pitches he gets.
Who Impressed? – UNLV Rebels
- Joey Armstrong – 3B – I’ll do my best to keep this short, I’ll try. A freshman from Woodbridge, CA, I think Joey Armstrong will be one of the most all around players on this team. Two-for-four on Sunday, with an RBI and a run scored. Also, 5-for-10 on the weekend. He was charged an error but it was a nasty hop that caught him under the chin Saturday, so I don’t hold it against him. He only is at 4 E’s on the year through Monday, while shortstop starter T.J. White is up to 20. I felt I could have put him anywhere in this, he stood out that much. I think the Rebels have something strong at the hot corner.
- Mark Shannon – CF – From a freshman (above) to this senior (again). Shannon is that good. In fact, I’m a little upset I haven’t seen any video of his catch in center from Sunday. Full sprint layout, and one of the nicest grab’s I’ve ever seen. Especially live. I’d say it rivals N.C. State Brett Williams grab from earlier this year. On top of the defense, Shannon went 2-for-4 for another 2 RBI’s, currently leading the team with 17.
Rebels and Lobos Wrap Up-
All in all, I think these two teams are up at the top to contend for the MWC title this year. Nevada will have something to do with it, but I’m very impressed with the Rebels and surprised at how well the young players are performing. Should be a great year to follow this conference.
Also, if you’d like another look, college baseball beast Eric Sorenson at Easton Baseball was also there (Wish I knew, would have loved to talk to him). You can also follow him on Twitter, @Stitch_Head (also takes great pictures!)