New Mexico State baseball starter Brock Whittlesey shined Thursday night at Utah Valley Thursday night, tossing a four-hit complete game shutout at the UCCU Ballpark as the Aggies run-ruled the host Wolverines in seven innings.
The first couple innings were a bit quiet despite NM State (27-9, 10-3 WAC) leaving a pair of runners in scoring position. With two outs in the second, Eric Mingus drew a walk before Braden Williams singled up the middle to put runners on first and second, but nothing came to fruition as UVU’s Jason Carr froze Kevin Jimenez on a 2-2 pitch down.
Logan Bottrell reached third on a high flyball to left that couldn’t be fielded cleanly due to the sun before Joey Ortiz drew a walk to put runners on the corners for Nick Gonzales – who answered with a deep flyball to right center to score Bottrell for the 1-0 lead in the third.
Utah Valley (8-29, 5-8 WAC) didn’t back down in its half of the inning and put runners on first and second behind back-to-back singles, but a 6-4-3 double play induced by Whittlesey ended the Wolverine threat.
Ehnes led off in the fourth frame with a double after the UVU centerfielder lost his footing trying to make a play on the ball in left center before Mingus drew the walk to put runners on first and second for Braden Williams – who laid down a sac-bunt to advance the runners.
After working the count back to even at 2-2, a wild pitch to Jimenez saw Ehnes score the second run of the game for New Mexico State. In the very next at-bat, Bottrell knocked in the third run of the game in for NM State with a single through the right side. Ortiz put runners on the corner when he singled to center before Gonzales flied out to the warning track to end the inning, but not before the Aggies added two more runs for the 3-0 lead.
Tristen Carranza led things off in the top of the fifth with a blooper to short right-field before Tristan Peterson reached on an error by the shortstop with no outs. After a sac-bunt from Ehnes advances the runners, back-to-back hits from Mingus and Williams made it 5-0 in favor of the Crimson & White before Jimenez scored Mingus on the sac-fly.
Whittlesey continued work masterfully on the mound, holding the Wolverines scoreless through six frames while tossing just 83 pitches.
New Mexico State threatened once again in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded and no outs after Mingus laid down a beautiful bunt down the third-base line. Williams and Jimenez were both patient at the plate and were rewarded with walks allowing two more runs to score the Aggies and the bases full with zero outs still.
Then, a double from Ortiz put two more runs on the scoreboard before Carranza blasted his 15th bomb of the season to the opposite field for the eight run of the inning and 14-0 lead for New Mexico State. The Aggies as team scored those eight runs on six hits with three free passes from UVU pitching.
UVU had runners in scoring position in the home half of the seventh, but a 4-6-3 double play from Whittlesey saw the senior collect his fifth win of the season. The Gilbert, Ariz., product also finished with five strikeouts on 99 total pitches.
NM State had six batters with multiple hits while five recorded multiple RBI in the run-ruling of UVU. Carranza led the way in the RBI department thanks to a 3-run dinger during the top-half of the seventh while Mingus scored three runs. Batters four through seven for NM State combined to score nine runs.
The Aggies and Wolverines return to the field Friday, April 19, for game two of the series with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. (MT) on the WAC Digital Network.