Trio of newcomers land on All-MW Team
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A promising season was unfolding for the University of New Mexico baseball team in 2020, but after only 18 games, that promise turned into “What If?” as the remainder of the college baseball season was cancelled due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Despite that unfortunate set of circumstances, the Mountain West and its head coaches have selected a 24-man all-conference team with each of the eight baseball playing schools in the league receiving three honorees.
OFFICIAL MW RELEASE
Landing on the 2020 All-MW Team for the Lobos were a trio of junior newcomers in Justin Armbruester, Kyle Landers and Aaron Makil. In the brief time that these players took the field as Lobos in 2020, their impact was clearly felt.
In the cases of Armbruester and Makil, those two made up 2/3 of what was shaping up to be a formidable weekend rotation for the Lobos. Both made four starts, combined for a 3-0 record and 49 strikeouts in 47.0 innings of work. Additionally, both right-handers combined for two of the team’s three shutouts in 2020. Those three shutouts by Lobo pitching in 2020 were the most in a season since 2016, the last year the Lobos advanced to a NCAA Regional.
Armbruester, a native of Sammamish, Wash., transferred to the Lobos from Pacific Lutheran University (DIII) where he won his league’s Pitcher of the Year award as a sophomore. In his first season with the Lobos, Armbruester was quickly proving that he was more than capable of pitching at the DI level. In his four starts, Armbruester pitched into the sixth inning each time and allowed no more than two earned runs. He ended his abbreviated 2020 season with a 1-0 record and a MW-best 1.14 ERA. In 23.2 innings of work, Armbruester allowed just 14 hits and three earned runs. He also sported one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in the country as he struck out 24 batters and only issued three walks.
In response to his sensational start, Armbruester was named as the MW’s Most Impressive Pitcher by D1Baseball.com.
Makil, a native of Scottsdale, Ariz., joined the program as a transfer from Chandler-Gilbert CC. In his initial season as a Lobo, Makil was a steady figure in the Lobo weekend rotation. Over the course of his four starts, Makil worked at least 5.0 innings and three times pitched at least 6.0 innings. His best outing of the year came in his first start of the season. Taking the mound in Surprise, Arizona, less than an hour from his hometown, Makil pitched 6.0 innings, scattered three hits, allowed no runs, walked three and struck out six. For that effort, Makil earned MW Pitcher of the Week honors.
Overall, for the season, Makil was 2-0 with a 5.01 ERA. In 23.1 innings of work, Makil issues just seven walks and struck out 25.
While Armbruester and Makil were making their presence felt on the mound, Landers was doing the same at the plate. One of the key new pieces to head coach Ray Birmingham’s lineup, Landers was in the midst of a red-hot streak at the plate prior to the cancellation of the season.
A native of Flower Mound, Texas, Landers transferred into the program from Navarro JC. After missing the season-opener due to an illness, Landers played in the next 17 games for the Lobos and made 16 starts. In those 16 starts, Landers had at least one hit in all but two of those games and had multiple hits in eight games.
In regard to his hot-streak to end the season, Landers was on a six-game hitting streak that saw him hit .583 (14-for-24) with 11 RBIs during that time. That streak helped vault Landers to the top of the MW in both batting average (.417) and RBIs (18). For the abbreviated season, Landers hit .417 (25-for-60) with 15 runs scored, six doubles, a home run and 18 RBIs. Landers also posted an on-base percentage of .532 and a slugging percentage of .567.
Landers’ impressive stat line for the abbreviated 2020 season caught the eye of D1Baseball.com as they recently named Landers as the MW’s Most Impressive Hitter.