The New Mexico State baseball team hosted Western Athletic Conference rival Grand Canyon in the three-game series finale on Sunday at Presley Askew Field. Carrying a tie ballgame into the seventh, the Aggies added seven runs over two innings to lead the team to a 9-2 series finale win and 2-1 series victory over the Lopes.
For Sunday’s game three, NM State (22-8, 6-3 WAC) sent out star right-handed pitcher Chance Hroch to take on Grand Canyon (17-14, 5-4 WAC) southpaw Jack Schneider. Each hurler opened strong tossing three scoreless innings before both squads got on the board in the fourth.
In the top of the fourth there were two runners on when an infield groundout put both men in scoring position for the Lopes. The next at-bat then saw a single through the left side bring in both runs to put the Aggies behind 2-0.
Then in the bottom half of the fourth, the Crimson & White responded. Daniel Head led off the frame with a double to the gap in left before Austin Duffy chopped an infield single that put runners on the corners with no outs. The next at-bat then saw Joey Ortiz lace a double to left center that scored both runners and tied the game up at two runs apiece at the end of the fourth.
Hroch continued to roll on the mound tossing four straight one-two-three innings that held the opposition scoreless while NM State’s offense took the lead in the seventh. Grand Canyon went to the bullpen in the bottom of the seventh and the Aggies used the opportunity to get on the board. A runner stood on third with one out when Eric Mingus knocked a single through the left side to score the go-ahead run putting the Aggies ahead 3-2 into the eighth.
The bottom half of the eighth inning then saw NM State put up its highest scoring frame to expand the teams lead. Back-to-back singles got the Aggies first runners on and then a walk to Nick Gonzales loaded the bases for NM State to spark a two-out rally. The scoring began with a Tristen Carranza base on balls to bring in the first run and keep the bases loaded. Logan Ehnes then stepped to the plate and crushed a no doubter to right field for a grand slam that doubled the run total for the Crimson & White. Then to close out the scoring, Mingus sent an RBI single up the middle to put NM State ahead 9-2 into the ninth.
While it looked like GCU may threaten in the final inning with two runners on and two outs, that would not be the case. Matt Munden came to the mound and struck out the final batter to secure the 9-2 win for the Aggies and give the team the 2-1 series victory over the Lopes.
Hroch (7-0) remains perfect on the mound after picking up the win with 8.2 innings pitched, allowing just three hits with five punch outs. At the plate, NM State rattled off 13 hits, led by Ortiz who went 3-for-5 with two runs batted and and Ehnes who added a homer and four RBI.
The New Mexico State baseball team now hits the road for a challenging midweek contest against No. 11 Texas Tech on Tuesday, April 9, at 6 p.m. MT in Midland, Texas.