Lobos go on hit parade, win Mountain West tourney


New Mexico coach Ray Birmingham looked across the field at his San Diego State counterpart, Tony Gwynn.

"To me, hitting is what that man did over there," Birmingham said. "That man over there is the best hitter in the game, and I learned a lot from watching him, and he never took a pitch off."

Birmingham apparently imparted to his team what he learned from watching the Hall of Famer.

His New Mexico team pounded out 26 hits and removed all the mystery early to blow out San Diego State 22-3 on Saturday night and win the Mountain West Conference baseball tournament at Wilson Stadium.

The victory earned the Lobos (36-22) an automatic bid to an NCAA regional. It will be their third consecutive postseason trip.

This conference title wasn't a surprise for the No. 1 seed. Certainly not like last season's shocker when New Mexico entered the conference tournament with a 16-39 record.

Birmingham said last year's run to the regional played a role in helping the Lobos to their current success, but mostly pointed to the past five seasons as keying New Mexico's roll.

During the entire time, he has emphasized hitting. His 2009 team led the nation with a .363 average.

This team didn't quite match that, but New Mexico entered the tournament leading the Mountain West with a .325 average and 39 home runs.

"I'm ruthless on the hitters," Birmingham said. "I work on them hard. They get mad at me. The key is don't take a pitch off."

New Mexico certainly didn't take the first five innings off against the No. 3 seed Aztecs (26-34), scoring all of its runs over that time.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

 

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