The New Mexico State baseball team hosted Western Athletic Conference leader UT Rio Grande Valley in a crucial series finale on Sunday at Presley Askew Field. After taking the lead in the first inning, the Aggies saw solid work at the plate and stellar pitching earn the team the 10-0 run-rule win in seven innings over the Vaqueros for the 2-1 series victory.
NM State (33-12, 15-6 WAC) starter Chance Hroch was dealing all day long on the mound and began in the opening frame putting UTRGV (30-17, 15-6 WAC) down scoreless before the Aggie offense got going. Logan Bottrell led off the bottom of the first with a double down the left field line and was brought home on the next at-bat when Joey Ortiz sent a two-run home run over the wall in left center to put the first runs up on the board for the Crimson & White.
Still in the home half of the first, Nick Gonzales and Logan Ehnes followed with a pair of doubles to the warning track that left two runners in scoring position. Tristan Peterson brought one run in with a sacrifice fly to center and the final run came across the plate off an Eric Mingus single to right center giving NM State a 4-0 advantage at the end of one.
Each side went down in order in the second, and then the Aggies put up their highest scoring frame in the bottom of the third. Gonzales was the first runner on base with a leadoff single and Tristen Carranza then stepped to the dish and crushed a homer to centerfield to put the Aggies ahead 6-0 and forcing the Vaqueros to bring in a reliever. Despite retiring the first batter he faced, the relief effort for UTRGV fell short when the next two batters for the Crimson & White got on with base knocks and were moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.
Kevin Jimenez brought in the man from third with an infield single and a catcher’s interference during the next at-bat loaded the bases with two outs. Ortiz then laced a single through the right side that plated two more and the Aggies held a 9-0 lead into the fourth.
NM State added the final run needed in the home half of the fourth inning. Carranza was plunked to open the frame and two batters later, Peterson sent a single to short leaving men on the corners. This was all the Aggies needed when Braden Williams knocked an RBI single to right bringing in the necessary run that put the Crimson & White up 10-0.
The opposition looked to cut into this lead over the remainder of the game, even loading the base sin the fifth, but Hroch shut down any hopes of a comeback holding the Vaqueros scoreless. The contest ended with a one-two-three top of the seventh as NM State secured the 10-0 run-rule win over UTRGV. The series finale gave the Aggies the 2-1 series victory and knotted the team up in a tie for first place with the Vaqueros in conference play.
After tossing his second complete-game shutout of the season, Hroch (9-0) stayed perfect on the mound picking up the win. At the plate the Aggies combined for 16 hits, led by Ortiz who went 3-for-4 with one home run and four runs batted in, Gonzales added a 2-for-3 day with two runs scored and Carranza belted one homer with two RBI.
The New Mexico State baseball team now hits the road for a four-game stretch in the Pacific Northwest. Play opens with a three-game weekend series against conference foe Seattle U, May 10-12, followed by a Monday meeting with Pac-12 challenger Washington on May 13.