Hroch’s gem, Gonzales’ bat power Aggies to season-opening win

NMSU

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The Mike Kirby era is off to a strong start.

NM State rolled to an 11-2 win against Texas Southern in Friday afternoon’s season opener at The ‘Skew behind senior pitcher Chance Hroch’s arm and junior infielder Nick Gonzales’ bat.

The Aggies (1-0) scored nine unanswered runs, including three on Gonzales’ eighth-inning tater, to pull away from the Tigers (0-1).
 
HOW IT HAPPENED
Hroch cruised through Texas Southern’s order before Roderick Coffee got the scoring started in the top half of the third. The outfielder hit his first of two home runs over the wall in left center to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead.

The deficit would not last long, as sophomore outfielder Zerek Saenz provided the Aggies’ first two runs in the bottom half of the frame. His RBI single tied the game at one apiece before his sac fly in the bottom of the fifth put NM State ahead, 2-1.

Coffee would erase NM State’s lead in the top half of the sixth, however, powering his second dinger of the ballgame over the wall in center field to knot the game at two.

It would be all Aggies from there on out, though. NM State scored nine unanswered runs, tacking on two in the bottom of the sixth, three in the bottom of the seventh and four in the bottom of the eighth.

Redshirt senior catcher Jason Bush’s solo shot in the seventh extended the Aggies’ lead to 5-2, and Gonzales three-run bomb in the eighth put the game away for good.

Senior pitcher Mitchell Allen came on in relief of Hroch, who went seven innings and allowed only two runs on three hits. Allen struck out four in two innings of work, locking down the Aggies’ first win of the season and the first head-coaching win of Kirby’s career.

COACH KIRBY’S TAKE
On the season-opening win
“I was really proud of the guys tonight. I think once they finally loosened up and got those first-game jitters out of them, they settled in and did what they do.”
 
On the team’s performance
“We had some success offensively tonight. We left a couple guys in scoring position, but it’s one game. I was really more impressed with our pitching and defense.” 
 
On Jason Bush and Nick Gonzales going yard
“I was excited for Nick. He’s put a lot of work in. Jason had a great fall and really caught outstanding tonight. He got some count leverage and took advantage of a 2-0 fastball. It was good to see.”
 
On staying motivated after two scoreless innings to begin the game
“Baseball’s really a game of momentum. We had some guys on and made a couple outs on the bases. Maybe the innings would’ve been a little different, but I’ll never fault the guys for playing aggressive. That’s what they were doing.”

UP NEXT
The series against Texas Southern continues tomorrow. Saturday’s doubleheader begins at noon MT.
 
The four-game set concludes with a single contest on Sunday, starting at 11 a.m. MT.

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