The University of New Mexico baseball team has officially ended its 2018 season. The Lobos’ last weekend of play was bittersweet.
Finished on a high note
Although saying the Lobos struggled this season is an understatement, the team managed to finish strong.
New Mexico played the last series of the season against the UC Davis Aggies and came out victorious during the last two games of the three-day series. On Friday, the away team came out on top with a 13-8 victory.
Saturday was Senior Night so the home team stepped up to give the three seniors (Daniel Herrera, James Harrington and Daniel Collier) a proper send-off. New Mexico pulled an 11-7 win that included Herrera’s first vhome run of the season.
Which team would claim the series came down to Sunday’s game. Sophomore Nathaniel Garley started on the mound and remained there for six full innings. The Lobos scored two home runs, one came from sophomore Justin Watari and the other was the second of the weekend for Herrera. By the end of the day, the scoreboard read 8-4 and New Mexico was finally able to close out a season that a certain head coach probably wants to put behind him right away.
Birmingham’s worst season
Since becoming head coach at the University of New Mexico, Ray Birmingham has only had two seasons with losing records. The first time was on 2011 when the Lobos finished with an overall record of 20-41. This season was his second time (20-33-1 overall), but there was a big difference.
“Back then, everybody went to the tournament. We went to the tournament and won it,” the coach said. “I haven’t had a bad year here until this year. Maybe I should’ve just quit after 10 (years). I didn’t plan on being here more than 10, but there are some things that are unfinished for me.”
This is the first season that Birmingham didn’t make the trip to the Mountain West Tournament with the Lobos. Although selected as the preseason conference favorites, the coach had said that he certainly expected some struggles throughout the season since his team was quite young (the current roster lists 15 true freshmen).
Word Birmingham used to describe him: grinder
Collier is a fifth-year senior who has called Albuquerque his home since he was born. Birmingham said he represents what he is trying to do with New Mexico kids, giving them an opportunity to rise to the next level.
“I couldn’t imagine playing anywhere else,” Collier stated. “No shot.”
The 23-year-old had a season ending injury in 2016, which led him to redshirt. His favorite memory as a Lobo, he said, came the following year when New Mexico defeated Nevada to take the Mountain West regular season title. The Lobos had also won this title in 2014 when Collier was a freshman.
When asked what he liked to do for fun, he replied with the simple answer of “chilling with friends.” He then added that he also enjoys going fishing, camping and comedy movies, his favorite being Anchorman. As for the future, Collier said he’s looking into joining the fire department.
“I finished my degree in four years, so I had another year,” he explained. “It was either try to get a master’s or something else. I’ve always been interested in the fire department, just helping people in general. So what better than helping out the community?”
Word Birmingham used to describe him: bulldog
Herrera, another player from Albuquerque, began his college career with two years at the New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs. After that, he decided it was time to come back to the 505.
The 21-year old catcher shared the same favorite moment as Danny Collier.
“Winning the conference title last year. Glad I got that ring to prove it,” he smiled.
Another thing he had in common with his teammate is fishing. However, Herrera was more specific saying that fly fishing is a big hobby for him.
He explained that although this was a rough season for his team, he will leave with positive memories because of the chemistry he felt the entire team had. He won’t be completely saying goodbye yet as he is planning on staying at UNM to get a master’s degree in sports administration. His long term goal is to become an athletic director.
Birmingham said the now-graduated Lobo showed unselfish dedication to the team and that he has no doubt he will have success in the future.
“If anybody needs an employee, there’s one right there, baby,” the coach said. “He’s a good one, a winner.”
Word Birmingham used to describe him: good
Harrington is the lone senior who doesn’t come from New Mexico, as his hometown is listed as Gilbert, Ariz. but he was actually born in Suffern, NY.
The 22-year-old said he won’t forget winning the Mountain West Tournament during his sophomore season (2016) at the Santa Ana Star Field in front of Lobo fans. He expressed how grateful he was for having had the opportunity to play baseball and, like Herrera, Harrington found the time spent with his teammates invaluable and said he knows they’re all going to be life-long friends.
When he is not playing baseball, Harrington is probably out in a golf course.
“I like golfing, I’m pretty good at it. I try to go like once a week. My dad and brother always played while growing up,” he explained. “Being a pitcher, it’s fun because we don’t really get to hit here so I hit some golf balls.”
Birmingham said Harrington is “one of the classiest kids” he’s ever met. He also described him as unselfish, good-hearted and smart, then added that he is sure the young graduate will do “special things in his life.” Harrington is still deciding on what exactly he wants to do, but he has a couple of ideas.
“I would like to either do some sort of sports journalism or coach somewhere and help younger kids develop and be baseball players,” he said.