COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Defending Mountain West champion New Mexico has been predicted to win its second consecutive regular season MW baseball title in 2013, according to a vote of the six MW head coaches. The Lobos received five first-place votes and 35 points overall. San Diego State received the remaining first-place vote and 26 points to edge out MW newcomers Nevada (23 points) and Fresno State (22 points) for second place. UNLV was picked fifth (13 points), followed by Air Force in sixth (7 points).
New Mexico, under the direction of head coach Ray Birmingham, returns 17 letterwinners from a 2012 squad that went 37-24 overall, 18-6 in MW action and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season. The Lobos are ranked No. 21 in the Baseball America preseason poll, No. 33 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 34 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). The Lobos are led by returning Co-Mountain West Players of the Year Mitchell Garver (C, Sr.) and DJ Peterson (3B, Jr.), returning All-MW performers Alex Allbritton (SS, Sr.), Josh Melendez (OF, Sr.), Josh Walker (SP, Jr.) and Freshman All-American outfielder Ryan Padilla. Garver was a finalist for the 2012 Johnny Bench Award, while Peterson was a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award.
San Diego State (26-34, 12-12 MW) returns 24 letterwinners, including 11 pitchers in 2013. All-MW Tournament performer Tim Zier (2B, Jr.), along with sophomores Greg Allen (OF) and Michael Cederoth (SP), are among the top returning starters for head coach Tony Gwynn. The Aztecs finished the season as the runner-up in the 2012 MW Tournament.
Nevada (32-25, 11-7 WAC) was the 2012 WAC regular season co-champion and is led by All-Conference performers Bradey Shipley (SP, Jr.), Tom Jameson (SP, Sr.), Brooks Klein (OF, Sr.) and Kewby Meyer (1B, So.). Head coach Gary Powers returns 20 letterwinners, including seven pitchers.
Fresno State (31-28, 8-10 WAC), the 2012 WAC tournament champion, returns 2012 TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby champion Aaron Judge (OF, Jr.) and All-Conference honorees Trent Garrison (1B, Sr.) and Jake Alvarez (3B, Jr.). Head coach Mike Batesole led the Bulldogs to their 34th NCAA Tournament appearance, sixth in the past seven seasons, in 2012.
UNLV (26-31, 7-17 MW) returns 17 letterwinners, including all-MW outfielders Brandon Bayardi (Sr.) and Joey Swaner (So.). All-MW performers Erick Fedde (So.) and Zack Hartman (Jr.) are expected to anchor head coach Tim Chambers’ pitching staff in 2013. Air Force (14-39, 5-19 MW), under the leadership of head coach Mike Kazlausky, will be led in 2013 by all-MW selections Garrett Custons (C/OF, Sr.) and Seth Kline (1B, Jr.).
The 2013 Mountain West baseball season begins Friday, Feb. 15 with all six MW teams in action. Conference play will begin on Friday, March 15. Fresno State will host the 2013 MW Championship at Pete Beiden Field, May 22-26.
2013 Mountain West PRESEASON POLL
Rk. Team (1st-place votes) Points
1. New Mexico (5) 35
2. San Diego State (1) 26
3. Nevada 23
4. Fresno State 22
5. UNLV 13
6. Air Force 7
2013 MOUNTAIN WEST PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Position - Name, Class Institution
C – Mitchell Garver, Sr. New Mexico
1B – Trent Garrison, Sr. Fresno State
2B – Tim Zier, Jr. San Diego State
3B – DJ Peterson, Jr. New Mexico
SS – Alex Allbritton, Sr. New Mexico
OF – Brandon Bayardi, Sr. UNLV
OF – Aaron Judge, Jr. Fresno State
OF – Ryan Padilla, So. New Mexico
UT/DH – Garrett Custons, Sr. Air Force
P – Bradey Shipley, Jr. Nevada
P – Hobie McClain, Sr. New Mexico