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Aggies are top seed in WAC playoffs
The New Mexico State University baseball team enters the 2012 Western Athletic Conference tournament this week as the No. 1 seed.
The Aggies will play Thursday at 8 p.m. in Mesa, Ariz. against the lowest remaining seed in the tournament.
The WAC tournament is a double-elimination tournament so the Aggies will play another game on Friday with the time to be announced at the outcome of their first game.
Live stats of those games will available online at NMStateSports.com.
NMSU earned a share of WAC regular season champion in 2012, finishing off its season with a 15-2 victory over San Jose State. It was NMSU’s first regular season conference championship in program history.
The Aggies hope that earning a regular season championship and having a successful non-conference season against a tough schedule will help in earning an NCAA Regional bid.
With the top seed comes an extra day off, something Aggies’ pitching staff and in particular senior closer Scott Coffman are sorely in need of.
The Aggies won’t know their opponent until late Wednesday night. They could get one of three opponents, No. 6 seed Louisiana Tech, No. 5 seed Fresno State or No. 4 seed Hawai’i.
Sacramento State is seeded No. 2 and Nevada is seeded No. 3. Those two teams would meet if Nevada is still alive after Wednesday’s games.
The Aggies will likely start Ryan Beck in the first game of the tournament. Beck will have nearly a full week of rest.
The Aggies head into the tournament hitting .306, the nation’s 20th-best batting average, and .276 in WAC play. They have posted 449 runs this season, better than all but two other teams in the nation.
Lobos’ Padilla named MW Player of Week
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — University of New Mexico outfielder Ryan Padilla has earned Mountain West Baseball Player of the Week honors for games played from May 14-20. It is his first honor of the season.
Padilla, a freshman from Albuquerque, hit .588 (10-of-17) for the week as the Lobos beat Rio Grande Rival New Mexico State University and swept Air Force to earn a share of the 2012 MW regular-season title. Padilla recorded multiple hits in all four games, scored five runs and drove in 10.
May 15, in the 12-10 come-from-behind win against the Aggies, Padilla went 2-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI and scored a run.
In a 22-4 win over Air Force May 17, he went 2-for-4 with three runs, five RBI and reached base four times. His home run was the Lobos’ first grand slam since Feb. 28, 2009.
Against the Falcons in Friday’s 9-1 win, he reached base five times. Saturday, with a share of the conference title on the line, he went 2-for-4 with two RBI, a run scored and made a diving catch in right field in an 11-5 win.
UNM manager Ray Birmingham said he’s been impressed with the improvements Padilla has made.
“He had a lot of flaws like all high school kids have,” he said. “You can get away with them in high school, but you can’t get away with them at this level.”
He had a little success in the fall early, but then he didn’t have any once they figured out how to pitch to him. Then he bought in. He made the changes.”
Padilla finished the regular season with a .376 batting average, good for third in the MW behind teammates DJ Peterson and Mitchell Garver. He also has scored 43 runs, drove in 44 runs and knocked out 73 hits, including 18 doubles.