Gonzales homers, NMSU bullpen stifles Gaels in 7-5 win

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The Aggies’ winning streak continued Friday afternoon at Presley Askew Field with a 7-5 victory over Iona (0-4). Junior infielder Nick Gonzales clobbered his fifth homer of the year, and seniors Mitchell Allen and Alex Reyes quieted the Gaels’ bats across the final four innings of the ballgame.

NM State is undefeated through its first five contests of the 2020 campaign. The Aggies opened last season with six consecutive wins. 

The Gaels got to starting pitcher Chance Hroch early. Iona’s Jake Liberatore hit the very first pitch of the game over the wall in left to put the Gaels ahead, 1-0.

The lead would not last long, though, as Gonzales stepped up to the plate in the bottom half of the first and smoked an 0-1 pitch over the fence in left center. The reigning National Player of the Week has hit a home run in four of the Aggies’ five games this season.

Runs in the top of the second and top of the fourth extended Iona’s lead to 4-1. Hroch went five innings and kept the Aggies within striking distance, however, allowing four runs on eight hits and striking out five.

Allen came in on relief and was provided immediate run support from the NM State offense in the bottom of the sixth. Sophomore Kevin Jimenez reached on an error that plated two, cutting the Aggies’ deficit to one.

The Gaels scratched out a run in the top half of the seventh, but it was all Aggies from there. 

NM State scored four in the bottom half of the frame, as sophomore Austin Duffy provided the big blow with a two-run single to tie the game at five. Jimenez’ RBI infield single put the Aggies ahead, 6-5, and junior Noah Haupt made it a two-run lead with an RBI single to right.

Reyes closed out the ballgame, tossing two scoreless frames and striking out a pair to record his first save of the year – and the second save of his career.

On the offense rallying after an early deficit 
“The guys were confident in the dugout. We were waiting for our opportunity and just didn’t have a whole lot going on early. We pride ourselves on taking care of the baseball and winning the last three innings of the game. We did both of those today, and that was the end of the story.”

On the bullpen’s strong work
“It was great to support Chance like that. [Iona] got his pitch count up early, so we had to get him out of there. [Mitchell] came in and executed his pitches. [Alex] came in for those final two innings and shut it down. He pounded the zone and had a good fastball and splitter working.”

The series between the Aggies and Gaels rolls on tomorrow afternoon with a doubleheader. First pitch is set for noon Saturday at The ‘Skew.

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