Due to scheduling conflicts the New Mexico State baseball team traveled to Courter Baseball Field home of Bellevue College to take on Western Athletic Conference challenger Seattle U in game two of the three-game series on Saturday. For the second straight game, the Aggies struck first early to put the Redhawks behind and the red-hot offense produced all game long for a 17-5 run-rule win in eight innings.
NM State (35-12, 17-6 WAC) threatened early with two runners in scoring position in the top of the first, but Seattle U (12-36, 7-16 WAC) escaped the jam. Aggie starter Justin Dehn then allowed no hits and left no runners on base in the bottom half before the offense got going for the Crimson & White in the second.
Three straight walks opened the top of the inning to load the bases with no outs. Jason Bush then did his job at the plate as he sent a sacrifice fly to left field to score the first run of the ballgame. This left two men on for Logan Bottrell who sent a grounder that went off the foot of the Redhawk second baseman and scooted into the outfield scoring one more run and leaving men on the corners.
Joey Ortiz then dug in in the batter’s box and produced the first hit for NM State that brought in the runner from third. Two batters later, Tristan Peterson had the bases loaded with two outs when he sent a single to the opposite field plating the next run of the frame. Logan Ehnes then closed out the scoring with an RBI single through the left side to put the Aggies ahead 6-0 through two.
In the top of the third, the Crimson & White added one more run to the lead. Kevin Jimenez led off the frame with a single through the right side before reaching second on a wild pitch and then stealing third base. With just 90 feet separating Jimenez and home plate, Bottrell laid down a bunt single that brought in the run to put NM State out in front 7-0.
Seattle U cut into this lead in the bottom of the third. The leadoff batter got on with a single to left field and then a single through the right side followed to bring in the first run for the opposition. After back-to-back base on balls, the Redhawks had the bases loaded and a wild pitch brought one runner in. A three-run homer to right concluded the scoring for the home team and the Aggies lead was now 7-5 before the team added to it in the fifth.
Wild pitching opened the top of the fifth to open the door for NM State to add to its advantage. A hit by pitch was followed by two walks to load the bases with no outs. Bottrell then looked to lay down a bunt but the pitcher could still not find the strike zone issuing another base on balls to bring in the first run and keep the bases juiced. Seattle U then made a pitching change and the new hurler still struggled allowing a sacrifice fly to the first batter faced to bring in the next run of the frame. Another wild pitch then moved an Aggie to third base and the second sacrifice fly brought in the next tally to give the Crimson & White a 10-5 edge into the sixth.
For the top half of the sixth, a hit by pitch and walk opened the frame with another free base issued two batters later to loads the bags with just one out. This forced another pitching change for the opposition but the new reliever issued a walk to the first batter he faced to bring in one run. Logan Bottrell followed with a single through the left side to score one more and put NM State ahead 12-5.
Then in the top of the eighth, the Aggies expanded upon this lead. A pair of base knocks opened up the frame and a walk followed to load the bases with no outs. An odd fielder’s choice double play saw two runners remain on with a pair gone before Tristen Carranza laced a single up the middle to bring in the first run. This left men on the corners for Peterson who roped an RBI single into right for a nine-run Aggie lead. A hit by pitch followed to load the bases and Mingus then drew a walk to bring in the tally that gave NM State a 15-5 advantage and brought in another reliever for the opposition.
The new pitcher for the Redhawks came into a bases loaded situation and Jimenez made him pay. Already in run-rule territory, the designated hitter added a couple insurance runs with a single into right field that brought home two runs to put the Crimson & White ahead 17-5.
This was all the Aggies would need as the relief effort in the bottom of the eighth closed out the run-rule win over the Redhawks. The game two victory gave NM State the series win, its 12th of the year and 13th straight dating back to the final regular-season series of 2018.
On the mound, Dehn (8-3) Dehn picked up the win after 6.0 innings pitched. At the dish, the Crimson & White put together 12 hits and 17 runs, led by Jimenez who went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and two runs batted in, Bottrell who went 2-for-4 with three RBI and Peterson added a 2-for-5 day with three RBI and two runs scored.
The New Mexico State baseball team now looks for the series sweep of Seattle U in the finale on Sunday, May 12, at 1 p.m. MT in Bannerwood Park.