Good-bye winter, hello beach.
The New Mexico baseball team will skip out on the snow with a trip to Corpus Christi, Texas, this weekend, but it will not be a vacation for the Lobos.
Three tough teams await UNM (1-2) in the Kleberg Bank College Classic, which starts today at 5 p.m. when the Lobos take on host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Iowa and Oklahoma will follow as the opponents for Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
"This is the first tournament I've played in since I've been at this university," UNM senior catcher Mitchell Garver said. "All three of those teams are really good. I know some of the guys on both Oklahoma and Iowa. It's going to be fun to match up with them. I've heard the weather's great, the field's nice, we're ready to travel a little bit."
Lobos coach Ray Birmingham said the tournament field represents the kind of challenge he wants his team to face every weekend.
"We've got Oklahoma; we want to play Oklahoma," he said. "Corpus Christi is a program that is moving up, too. Then we've got Iowa.
"If you go to D1Baseball you can see a lot of big names got beat (last weekend). Anybody can beat anybody. What you're trying to do is get a club that can execute the game the right way. That's all I can control."
The Islanders (3-2) are led at the plate by senior infielder Brad Porras, the brother of former Lobo first baseman Trey Porras. Brad has hit .474 (9-for-19) with six runs four doubles and three RBI.
On the mound, TAMCC will rely on senior right-hander Tim Keller against UNM. Keller (1-0) gave up one run on two hits and three walks while striking out four in five innings last weekend.
The Lobos will counter with junior right-hander A.J. Carman, who allowed one run in four innings but did not factor in the decision in the season opener last Friday against Oklahoma State.
Iowa (1-2) features a young team this season, with an infield made up of three sophomores and one freshman. The top returning hitters for the Hawkeyes are second baseman Jake Mangler (.287, 20 RBI last year) and shortstop Jacob Yacinich (.286, 24 RBI).
The veteran of the squad, senior left-hander Matt Dermody (1-7, 4.50 ERA last year), will take the mound against UNM on Saturday. Dermody gave up one run in five innings of work in Iowa's lone win of the season last weekend.
The Lobos will counter with junior Kevin Baumgartner (0-0, 1.80), who replaces Anthony Consiglio (0-0, 22.50) in the rotation.
As for the Sooners (6-0), they are off to a solid start powered by junior slugger Matt Oberste (.455, 2 HR, 12 RBI). Oklahoma went 42-25 a year ago and seems poised to be a postseason contender in the Big 12 once again.
Freshman right-hander Corey Copping (0-0, 1.29) will start for the Sooners against the Lobos' Sam Wolff (1-0, 1.59).
UNM will remain on the road the following weekend for a three-game series at Nebraska March 1-3 before returning home for a two-game set March 5-6 against La Salle.