LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Despite falling 6-4 on Friday night to Pacific, NM State baseball seems to be trending in a positive direction. With its backs against the wall in the late stages of the ballgame, NM State never showed signs of backing down or shying away from the challenge. The Aggies threatened with a pair of baserunners in the final frame but were unable to push a run across.
Naturally, the Keith Zuniga era of Aggie baseball got underway with some stellar first inning pitching. Treyjen Meza faced the minimum in the first inning and ended the frame with his strikeout of the evening. Meza was the victim of a ball lost in the lights at Presley Askew Field as the leadoff hitter in the second inning reached with a triple to shallow right center. Pacific took an early lead when Andrew Guidaea lifted a sacrifice fly to center field. Just as was the case in the first inning, Meza ended the inning with a strikeout, his second of the game.
In the third inning, Romeo Ballesteros tied the ballgame at one and energized the NM State faithful. Things got started in the third when Karl Koerper led off with a single. With Koerper on second, Ballesteros ripped a two-strike pitch to left field, plating Koerper and knotting the game.
Meza was in an absolute rhythm on Friday night. The Green Valley, Arizona native retired nine consecutive batters after the triple. No Tiger would reach base until a single opened the fifth inning. Later in that fifth, Payton Mille put together a two-run double with one of the runs scoring on a throwing error.
Entering the bottom half of the inning trailing by two, NM State quickly responded with an answer of its own. To lead off the inning, catcher Nick Gore launched his first home run in the crimson and white off of the scoreboard in left-center. Following a hustle double from Koerper for his second hit of the night, reigning WAC Tournament MVP Cal Villareal hit a two-run home run off of top of the right field foul pole.
Unfortunately for NM State, the offense stopped there for a while. After retiring the final two outs in the inning, the Tigers’ pitching staff allowed just one more baserunner until the ninth inning.
Pacific tacked on three more runs with two coming in the sixth inning and one in the seventh. As has been the case throughout the season, errors once again doomed NM State on Friday night. Two of the three late runs for Pacific were unearned and came as direct results of defensive miscues. Through eight games this season, the Aggies have committed 15 errors.
Trailing 6-4 as it was heading to the bottom half of the ninth, there was still a sense of life and energy in the Aggie dugout. Following a strikeout to open the inning, Kevin Jimenez beat out a ground ball to the first baseman for his third hit of the ballgame. With one away, Damone Hale followed with another single up the middle, putting the tying run on first base.
The energy would shift to Pacific’s dugout following a mound visit, though. Caden Duke would induce a pop-out to the second baseman before freezing an Aggie for the final out of the ballgame.
NM State and Pacific will once again meet on Saturday night at Presley Askew Field. The game will be NM State’s first televised home game of the year with Bally Sports Arizona, Comcast New Mexico, and ESPN+ all carrying the game. For fans who typically listen on 91.5 FM KRUX, Saturday’s game will not be broadcast on the radio but all service will resume on Sunday.
- Karl Koerper extended his hitting streak to three games with a third inning single to right field.
- Koerper added his first multi-hit game as an Aggie with a hustle double in the fifth inning
- Nick Gore and Cal Villareal each launched their first home runs of the season in the fifth inning.
- Gore’s home run was his second hit of the season – Both of which have gone for extra bases.
- Kevin Jimenez picked up his second three-hit night of the season on Friday. To date, Jimenez is the lone Aggie with a three-plus hit game.
- Following the three-hit night, Jimenez’s batting average is up to a team-leading .308.