Gonzales’ 3-HR, 9-RBI day drives Aggies to series sweep

NMSU

Photo Courtesy: Anthony McKenna, Sports Writer; NMSU Round Up

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – If you don’t know, now you know.

Nick Gonzales showed why he is one of the most-hyped prospects in the country Sunday afternoon at Presley Askew Field, clobbering three home runs and accounting for nine RBI in NM State’s 15-8 win over Texas Southern.

The Aggies improve to 4-0 on the year with the victory, sweeping the Tigers in their season-opening four-game set.

HOW IT HAPPENED
Gonzales stole the show from the very beginning, starting with a web gem at shortstop in the top of the first inning. 

With runners on first and second and one out, the junior fielded a high-chopper on an in-between hop and fired to first to record the out, helping starting pitcher Chris Jefferson escape an early jam.

NM led, 1-0, in the third before Gonzales hit his first of three dingers on the very first pitch of his second at-bat. His two-run shot to left field extended the Aggies’ lead to 3-0.

He continued to tear the cover off the ball one inning later, coming up to bat with the bases loaded and one out. Gonzales sent a 1-2 pitch soaring over the wall in left to clear the bases and put NM State ahead, 7-0.

Jefferson, meanwhile, was cruising on the mound. The senior tossed five scoreless inning and struck out three, allowing no runs on four hits.

The Aggie offense refused to take its foot off the pedal, opening a nine-run lead by the end of the fifth. Redshirt senior catcher Jason Bush, who doubled four times in the ballgame, delivered a RBI two-bagger in the bottom half of the fifth.

Gonzales was not done, either. The Vail, Ariz., native homered to left center on an 0-1 pitch in the bottom of the seventh, scoring sophomore outfielder Zerek Saenz and redshirt sophomore outfielder Cal Villareal to give the Aggies a 13-4 cushion.

Gonzales concluded the season-opening weekend with four homers and 17 RBI, slashing .571//727/1.571 in the first four contests. His three-homer day ties the school record for most taters in a single game.

Tristan Peterson was the last Aggie to accomplish the feat, blasting three homers as a junior against Cal State Bakersfield one season ago (3/23/19).

Redshirt senior Alex Reyes closed the game out on the bump, throwing the final 1 2/3 innings to secure NM State’s 15-8 victory.

COACH KIRBY’S TAKE
On sweeping the series
“It’s really important to win on Sunday. That’s when guys are the most tired, and you’ve got to dig deep for some extra effort. I thought the guys did that today.”

On Jefferson’s outing
“I thought Chris was outstanding. He came in and pounded the strike zone. He has a ton of experience and really works his tail off all week. I wasn’t surprised at all to see him come in, command and compete. That’s what he does.”

On Gonzales’ massive day
“He’s just a special player. All he does is come up big. He’s just a fabulous player, and we’re fortunate to have him on our team.”

UP NEXT
NM State hosts Iona (0-3) for a four-game set next weekend. The series, which includes a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb 22, begins at 3 p.m. MT Friday, Feb. 21, and wraps up with an 11 a.m. MT Sunday, Feb. 23, finale.

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