The New Mexico State baseball team opened up a three-game Western Athletic Conference series in the Windy City against Chicago State on Friday. The Aggie offense was able to produce at the plate during a chilly day and the team excelled on the mound for a 9-2 series opening win over the Cougars.
In the series opener, NM State (19-6, 3-1 WAC) sent ace Brock Whittlesey to the mound to take on Chicago State (6-17, 1-3 WAC) right-hander Brett Gregory. Following a first inning that saw the Aggies leave the bases loaded and the Cougars go down in order, the first runs of the ballgame were put up in the second.
A hit by pitch and base on balls put a pair of runners on for the Crimson & White. Then with two outs, Joey Ortiz stepped to the plate and crushed a home run to the street behind the left field fence for a three-run shot to put the visitors up 3-0.
Chicago State was able to cut away at the NM State lead in the bottom half of the second. The Cougars leadoff batter, Tyler Lowe, hit a solo home run to right for the only scoring of the frame and the Aggie lead stood at 3-1.
Each side was held scoreless over the next three innings, before the Aggies got back on the board in the top of the sixth. With a man on second, Joey Ortiz sent a double down the left field line to bring in the first run of the frame. After stealing third, the runner was brought home by a Nick Gonzales single to right for a 5-1 NM State lead after six.
The Aggie lead was expanded upon in the top of the seventh. Logan Ehnes led off the frame with a ground rule double over the fence in left and then Braden Williams sent a single to left to leave runners on the corners. Each man was brought home when Eric Mingus brought two runs in with a double down the left field line for a 7-1 lead.
Logan Bottrell then reached on a bunt to leave runners on the corners before he stole second to leave both men in scoring position. An infield groundout followed to score the man from third and then Gonzales added an RBI single through the left side to put the Crimson & White ahead 9-1 at the end of the seventh.
In the bottom of the ninth, the NM State eight-run lead was chipped into by the opposition who saw a sacrifice fly bring in one run, but that is all the Cougars could muster as the Aggies won the series opener, 9-2. A seven-inning, one-run outing earned Whittlesey (4-1) the victory on the mound.
At the plate NM State combined for 12 hits, led by Ortiz who went 3-for-6 with one home run and five runs batted in and Mingus who went 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI.
The New Mexico State baseball team now gets set for game two of the weekend series against Chicago State on Saturday, March 30, at 12:05 p.m. MT.