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Baseball To Settle Rio Grande Rivalry

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lobos, Aggies Take Break From Leagues

The 2011-12 Rio Grande Rivalry will be settled tonight at Isotopes Park.

For the first time in the rivalry’s five-year existence, New Mexico State University has a chance to claim the trophy for sports supremacy between the state’s two Division I athletic programs.

For that to happen, the Aggie baseball team must beat UNM tonight.

Today
New Mexico State at UNM, Isotopes Park, 6 p.m. Radio: KQTM-FM (101.7)Rio Grande Rivalry Down to BaseballLobo junior Mitchell Garver leads the MWC in doubles and total plate appearances. UNM will face New Mexico State tonight.Lobos, Aggies Take Break From LeaguesRio Grande Rivalry Down to Baseball2011-12
UNM 14.25, NMSU 13.5*
Lobos won: Men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, women’s soccer, women’s basketball, men’s tennis.
Aggies won: Football, volleyball, softball, women’s tennis, baseball.
Ties: Men’s basketball, swimming & diving.
*Winner of today’s Lobo-Aggie baseball game gets .75 points.

2007-08
UNM 16.25, NMSU 6.75
2008-09
UNM 17.25, NMSU 6.75
2009-10
UNM 16.50, NMSU 10.50
2010-11
UNM 18.75, NMSU 8.50

The Rio Grande Rivalry is a series between UNM and New Mexico State, encompassing sports for both programs. A points system is used based on head-to-head competition between the two schools. 

“Yeah, I’m aware of it,” NMSU baseball coach Rocky Ward said. “If I had my choice, I’d rather beat San Jose State three times (this weekend).

“But (the Rio Grande Rivalry) matters to our students and our alumni, and it would be a nice feather in our cap to get the trophy. It is important.”

To set the stage: Since 2007-08, the University of New Mexico and NMSU have used a point system to score head-to-head athletic competitions between the schools. The school accumulating the most points each school year takes home the traveling Rio Grande Rivalry trophy and keeps it through the ensuing year.

The trophy competition is part of an advertising promotion between UNM and Route 66 Casino. UNM has won decisively each of the first four years, but NMSU could tie the 2011-12 standings with a baseball win tonight. It’s the final scheduled Lobo-Aggie competition of 2011-12, and NMSU won the first three meetings in baseball.

“I have had a few people mention that this week,” UNM coach Ray Birmingham said, “and if we can do our part to keep the trophy here, that’s awesome. I want to beat New Mexico State just like I want to beat everybody else.”

Even so, neither Ward nor Birmingham places undue emphasis on the rivalry game. With the Lobos and Aggies facing important conference series this weekend, midweek pitching can be expected.

“We’ve got to get ready for (next week’s) Mountain West tournament,” Birmingham said, “and we’ve got guys who need to pitch.”

The Lobos (29-22, 13-4) are a game behind TCU in the league standings. Both teams have three games remaining.

NMSU (31-19, 8-8 Western Athletic Conference) can still capture a WAC title if it sweeps San Jose State this weekend and receives some help.

But first, there’s the Rio Grande Rivalry to settle. If UNM wins tonight, the trophy stays put in Albuquerque. If NMSU wins, a tiebreaker becomes necessary.

The official tiebreaker is a random drawing with all sports placed involved. The first sport drawn in which one school captured all possible points will determine the rivalry champion.

The uninspired procedure didn’t suit either baseball coach.

“That’s silly,” said Ward, who advocated waiting to see if UNM and NMSU might square off again in NCAA baseball.

Birmingham offered another suggestion.

“Couldn’t we have the two athletic directors mud wrestle?” he said. “Now that would be a tiebreaker.”
See RIO GRANDE on PAGE D2TodayNew Mexico State at UNM, Isotopes Park, 6 p.m. Radio: KQTM-FM (101.7)Rio Grande Rivalry Down to BaseballLobo junior Mitchell Garver leads the MWC in doubles and total plate appearances. UNM will face New Mexico State tonight.Lobos, Aggies Take Break From LeaguesRio Grande Rivalry Down to Baseball2011-12UNM 14.25, NMSU 13.5*Lobos won: Men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, women’s soccer, women’s basketball, men’s tennis.Aggies won: Football, volleyball, softball, women’s tennis, baseball.Ties: Men’s basketball, swimming & diving.*Winner of today’s Lobo-Aggie baseball game gets .75 points.2007-08UNM 16.25, NMSU 6.752008-09UNM 17.25, NMSU 6.752009-10UNM 16.50, NMSU 10.502010-11UNM 18.75, NMSU 8.50The Rio Grande Rivalry is a series between UNM and New Mexico State, encompassing sports for both programs. A points system is used based on head-to-head competition between the two schools.

Rio Grande Rivalry
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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