ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Behind the crafty work of Darius Garcia, Noah Estrella, and Matthew Maloney, New Mexico State blanked in-state rivals New Mexico 2-0 on Tuesday night on the road.
Garcia was in an absolute groove throughout his second start of the season. Garcia held the Lobos, who boast the nation’s top batting average, hitless until the third inning. Garcia issued two free passes in the first two innings but worked around the mistakes without any issues.
New Mexico State (3-15) took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning. After Christian Perez drew a walk to open the frame, Nolan Funke ripped a single back through the middle to put two runners aboard. Two batters later, Nick Gore went opposite field and poked a single to right field, scoring Perez and putting the Aggies in front.
Garcia got some help from Cal Villareal in the fourth inning when the Aggies’ centerfielder chased down a ball in the right-center cap to take away extra bases. Garcia and the Lobos’ Benjamin Baker-Livingston remained locked at 1-0 until both teams went to the bullpen. Garcia gave way to Noah Estrella with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
After Estrella ended the sixth, he also went through the seventh and eighth innings without an issue as well. As the Aggies and Lobos went to the ninth inning, NM State was still clinging to a one-run lead and looking to tack on an insurance run.
Like a good neighbor, Villareal was there. The outfielder from Roswell launched a home run towards the Sandias, clearing the right field wall and pushing the Aggie lead to two.
After a walk and a double to right field in the bottom of the ninth, interim head coach Keith Zuniga motioned to the bullpen and decided to turn to Matthew Maloney. A Huntington Beach native, Maloney was cool and collected under pressure, retiring each of the two Lobo hitters he saw to conclude the win for NM State.
NMSU will host UTRGV this weekend in Las Cruces as the Aggies continue WAC play.