The New Mexico State baseball team closed out its three-game Western Athletic Conference series at Seattle U on Sunday afternoon. After taking an early lead, the Aggies once again did not let go in another offensive outbreak that saw the team take the finale over the Redhawks, 16-3.
Seattle U (12-37, 7-17 WAC) starter Jake Prizina made just his second start after returning after a month off the mound. NM State (36-12, 18-6 WAC) looked to take advantage of any rust the week one WAC and National Pitcher of the Week may have had early.
This was done in the top of the first inning as the Aggies struck as they had done all series. Logan Ehnes was the first runner on following a base on balls and Nick Gonzales followed with a single to centerfield leaving runners on the corners. Tristen Carranza then did his job lofting a sacrifice fly to center that plated the first run of the game.
A one-run lead for the Crimson & White then doubled in the third inning. Ehnes again drew a walk and Gonzales reached base on an infield single. A fly out followed to put the runners on the corners and that was what the Aggies needed as a fielder’s choice in the next at-bat brought home the man from third for a 2-0 NM State lead.
The Aggie bats then got going again in the opening half of the fourth. Braden Williams and Joey Ortiz reached base to give Gonzales a chance with two outs and two men on base. The sophomore came through with a two-run base knock into right center that gave the Crimson & White a 4-0 advantage.
NM State starter Chance Hroch continued to roll, allowing his first hit late in the fourth inning after retiring 11-straight batters. The junior hurler went on to hold the Redhawks scoreless before the Aggie bats produced again in the top of the fifth.
Scoring opened after the Crimson & White got the bases loaded with a single, walk and hit by pitch. The first run came home on a wild pitch to the backstop that advanced all the runners. Then with two men in scoring position, Ehnes sent a single through the right side to bring in two runs that put NM State on top 7-0 through five.
Seattle U was finally able to get on the board in the bottom of the sixth. An infield error, followed by a single and a base on balls loaded the bases for the Redhawks. Then with two outs, a double was sent down the left field line that scored three runs and the Aggies lead was just 7-3 into the seventh.
The NM State lead then expanded in the top half of the seventh inning that featured three different Redhawk pitchers. Joey Ortiz led off the frame with a double to the gap in right before being moved to third on a fly out. Standing 90 feet from home plate was all he needed when a Gonzales sacrifice fly brought in the first run. A single and two walks allowed the Aggies to load the bags and another base on balls brought the next Aggie across the plate putting NM State ahead 9-3.
Another tally went up for the Crimson & White in the following inning to open the eighth, expanding the visiting team’s lead. With two outs, one runner stood in scoring position for Carranza who laced a single through the right side bringing in one run to put the Redhawks behind 10-3.
Then in the top of the ninth, NM State added some insurance runs to close out the game. The first run came off a bases loaded hit by pitch to plate one. Then with the bags still juiced, Ortiz sent a double down the left field line that ricocheted off third base to score three runs for the Aggies.
Gonzales then stepped to the plate and helped NM State etch a new record into the books. The sophomore sent an RBI triple into right to not only score a run, but also set the new team single-season record for triples with 32. Carranza then stepped to the plate to close out the scoring with a one-run base knock into centerfield putting the Crimson & White out in front by 13 runs.
That would be all for the scoring with the Aggies shutting down the Redhawks in the final inning to secure the 16-3 finale win to sweep the three-game conference series. After tossing 6.2 innings with seven strikeouts, Hroch (10-0) remains unblemished on the mound picking up the win.
The strong offensive weekend closed out with the team outhitting the opposition 20-5 on a day that featured Gonzales going 4-for-5 with four runs batted, Carranza also went 4-for-5 and added three RBI and Ortiz added a 3-for-7 day with three runs scored and three RBI.
New Mexico State takes no time off before its next game as the team remains in the Pacific Northwest to take on Washington at 7 p.m. MT on Monday, May 13, at Husky Ballpark.