FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – If the University of New Mexico baseball team is going to return to the NCAA postseason for a fourth consecutive year in 2013, it will have to traverse yet another difficult schedule. Head coach Ray Birmingham released the team’s schedule for the 2013 season, and, like always, there are many tough, quality opponents, including 11 games against teams that made an NCAA regional in 2012.
The Lobos also play eight games against teams that had a top-40 RPI in 2012, only three of which are at home. They include one game at Arizona State (RPI 15 in 2012) on March 13 and one against Oklahoma (24) in the Whataburger Classic, and two each against Arkansas (9, April 9 and 10), Missouri State (37, March 19) and Rio Grande Rival New Mexico State (40, April 1 and 16).
Birmingham, however, makes no bones about the difficult schedule the Lobos face.
“I think we play a tougher non-conference schedule than many SEC, Big 12, and Pac 12 teams,” he said. “I’m sure our non-conference schedule will be ranked at least in the top 50 in the country, if not the top 40.”
UNM opens its season with three games against Oklahoma State at home Feb. 15-17, before traveling the following weekend to Corpus Christi, Texas, to take part in the Whataburger Classic, which features, in addition to Oklahoma, the Iowa Hawkeyes and the host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders.
The Lobos then travel to Nebraska to face another Big 10 opponent with a three-game set against the Cornhuskers.
“Oklahoma State is obviously a good opener,” Birmingham said. “And we open the first three weekends against some very good ballclubs.”
UNM then returns to Albuquerque where it plays 14 of its next 18 games, beginning with a six-game homestand. La Salle comes to Albuquerque for two mid-week games and UC Riverside comes for a four-game weekend series that includes a doubleheader on Saturday, March 9.
Following their game at Arizona State, the Lobos open Mountain West play with three games in Las Vegas, Nev., against UNLV March 15-17. They then return home for eight games, which is their longest homestand of the season.
UNM begins the homestand with a doubleheader against Missouri State on March 19 before welcoming new Mountain West member Nevada to Albuquerque March 22-24. The Lobos continue conference play the following weekend when San Diego State comes to town.
A Tuesday game against Rio Grande Rival New Mexico State, a Wednesday game against the third Big 12 team on the Lobo’s schedule, Texas Tech, and a weekend series at Air Force precedes UNM’s toughest stretch of schedule as the Lobos play six games in eight days against teams that made the NCAA postseason in 2012: two at Arkansas April 9 and 10, three home games against new Mountain West foe Fresno State April 12-14, and one home game Park against New Mexico State on April 16.
“There’s nowhere to hide on our schedule once again,” Birmingham said.
That tough stretch is followed by a road trip to Nevada April 19-21, a home series against UNLV the following weekend, and two mid-week games at Texas Tech April 30 and May 1. UNM then closes out its home schedule with three games against Air Force May 3-5 and one against Texas Tech on May 8.
The Lobos finish the regular season with three games each at Fresno State (May 10-12) and San Diego State (16-18).
UNM will return to Fresno, Calif., for the Mountain West Conference Tournament May 22-26 and try to win its third straight tournament championship. The Lobos won four straight games as the six-seed in 2011 and dominated as the one-seed last year, winning their three games by a combined score of 40-5.
Notes: The Lobos will play a total of 56 regular-season games, 29 at home and 27 on the road … the only team UNM will be facing for the first time in 2013 is La Salle … UC Riverside will make its first ever trip to Albuquerque next season … the Lobos played Arizona State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and New Mexico State in their non-conference schedule in 2012 in addition to Nevada and Fresno State when both were still in the WAC and posted an 8-11 record against those teams … UNM owns an all-time record of 500-546-1 against the teams on its schedule … the Lobos have won 10 straight against Iowa but have not played the Hawkeyes since 1985.