The New Mexico State baseball team lost the opener of a four-game series versus Kent State University, 7-4, Friday night at Presley Askew Field. The Aggies fall to 9-7 on the season while Kent State improves to 6-4.
The Aggie bats were silenced in the loss by a Kent State pitching staff that allowed only five hits in the entire game. No NM State hitter had more than one hit on the night.
Kent State starting pitcher David Starn allowed only two hits in six strong innings of work while allowing two runs. Aggie starter Ryan Beck was also impressive in his start, also going six innings. Beck allowed three runs on eight hits and had eight strikeouts. He did, however, receive his first loss of the year.
The game started as a pitcher's duel between Beck and Starn . The game's first run didn't come until the top of the third. Kent State's centerfielder Evan Campbell led off the inning with a single to right center. After stealing second base, Campbell scored on a couple of wild pitches by Beck.
The Aggies got their first runs in the bottom of the fifth. Rightfielder Bryan Karraker and leftfielder Andy Lyon both walked to lead off the inning. Lead-off hitter Kyle Phillips then proceeded to ground into a fielder's choice that left Lyon on second and Phillips on first base. After both runners advanced on a passed ball by Kent State catcher David Lyon, first baseman Kurt Snowley knocked both runners in with a single to center field. Unfortuantely, the 2-1 lead was the last time the Aggies would lead in the game.
Kent State took the lead right back in the top half of the sixth inning. After Beck hit a batter, Campbell once again came up with a clutch hit, hitting a double to left-center field. Kent State shortstop Jimmy Rider followed Campbell with a double of his own to bring in two runs. Campbell finished with as many hits as the Aggies, going 5-6 at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI.
NM State's potent offense couldn't get on track Friday night. After Kent State added two more runs in the top of the seventh to take a 5-2 lead, the Aggies had a great opportunity to score some runs during the bottom half of the inning.
Phillips and Snowley each walked to lead off the inning. Second baseman Parker Hipp followed with a single to centerfield to load the bases with nobody out. Kent State decided to go to their bullpen, bringing in right-hand pitcher Josh Pierce. The decision paid off for Kent State. Pierce struck out the first batter he faced, Aggie shortstop Zach Voight. After a sacrifice fly by catcher Zac Fischer brought in a run and an error by Kent State third baseman Nick Hamilton once again loaded the bases, Pierce struck out Aggie designated hitter Cody Edwards to end the inning. An inning that started with a lot of promise yielded only one run for NM State and ended with the bases loaded, stranding three of the 13 total runners that the Aggies left on base Friday.
Kent State added a couple of runs in the ninth and pitcher Casey Wilson came in to get the final six outs for Kent State, earning his first save of the season in the process.
The Aggies continue their series with Kent State with a doubleheader Saturday. The first game is scheduled to start at 3:05 p.m. (MT).