Mountain West Play Begins

Conference baseball play begins this week as BYU travels to New Mexico to start a three-game series on Thursday.

The Cougars, now 8-8, are scheduled to start undefeated Nate Fernley (5 0, 1.98) in Thursday's game which is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Fernley is averaging 10.98 strikeouts a game, but did not get a decision in his last outing even though he pitched eight innings against Washington and had a 5-1 lead.

Scheduled on the mound for Friday's 7 p.m. Start against the Lobos is lefty Jeff Stone (0-2, 6.75). And in Saturday's 4 p.m. game, Ryan Adams (3-1, 2.00) will be on the hill.

This week also marks the start of BYU radio broadcasts on KSRR (1400 AM) with Brent Norton calling the play-by-play. Thursday and Saturday's games will be broadcast live, while Friday will be an update only at halftime because of the Utah Jazz game broadcast on the same station. Fans can also listen live outside Utah by calling TRZ communications, with information located on www.byucougars.com for instructions.

Last week BYU posted a 1-2 record, defeating Kentucky in the final game of the Illini Desert Classic, 4-2.

"It was an excellent idea to get four northern schools together in a warm weather site and I hope we are invited back again," said BYU Coach Vance Law. "We are playing competitively. We think we have a good feel for our team after these pre-season games."

According to Law, catcher Lars Birkeland has been cleared to play following a broken toe a couple weeks ago in California.

New Mexico has a 5-11 record coming into this week's action. The Lobos were the Mountain West Conference champions last season, but dropped the final two games of the season to BYU. Last year at the groundbreaking for Miller Park, Fernley pitched a complete game in a 4-1 victory over UNM. And at the MWC Tournament in Las Vegas, the Cougars won, 6-3, to eliminate the Lobos.

Game times for the BYU-UNM series have been adjusted due to UNM hosting men's basketball against the Cougars on Thursday night and the University of Utah on Saturday afternoon.