The New Mexico State baseball team made a trip to the Pacific Northwest to open up a three-game series versus Western Athletic Conference opponent Seattle U on Friday night at Bannerwood Park. After putting up multiple runs in the first frame, the Aggies never trailed for the remainder of the game taking down the Redhawks 21-7 in the series opener.
As the nation’s leading offense has done most of the season, NM State (34-12, 16-6 WAC) got going at the plate early to take a lead over Seattle U (12-35, 7-15 WAC) in the top of the first. Scoring all came with two outs for the Aggies, beginning with an RBI single from Tristan Peterson to plate the first run of the game. This left runners on first and second for Logan Ehnes who laced a triple into right center that brought home two more runs for a 3-0 NM State lead at the end of the opening frame.
After Aggie starter Brock Whittlesey tossed a one-two-three bottom half, the Crimson & White added one more tally to the board in the second. One runner stood in scoring position when Joey Ortiz roped a ball to centerfield to bring in the man from second and give the visiting team a 4-0 lead through two innings.
Seattle U was able to put up its first runs of the game in the bottom of the third. Back-to-back singles, followed by a walk loaded the bases with just one out. The next batter for the Redhawks then knocked a single up the middle that brought in two runs and the Aggies lead stood at 4-2.
In the top of the fifth, NM State added to this advantage. Peterson led off the frame with a double to center before being moved to third on a deep fly out. Standing 90 feet from home plate, the runner came across the plate on a great instinctual jump on a wild pitch to give the Aggies a three-run lead. Then with two men on and two outs, Logan Bottrell sent a single up the middle that brought home the next run.
A base on balls followed to load the bags, forcing the Redhawks to go to the bullpen. Looking to escape the inning, Nick Gonzales would not let that happen knocking a ball to short that was bobbled to score the final run of the frame and put NM State on top 7-2.
The Aggies lead was cut into with the Redhawks trying to answer in the bottom of the fifth. A pair of singles got the first two runners on for Seattle U before a triple down the line in right scored both men. The Redhawk runner on third was then brought in on an infield groundout and the lead for the Crimson & White was just two runs, 7-5, into the sixth.
This two-run lead was tripled by NM State in the top of the sixth for a larger cushion. Two runners were on and Eric Mingus laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners but an error by the Redhawks pitcher allowed the bases to become loaded with no outs. Jimenez then strolled to the plate and roped a single to right field that brought in the first two runs of the inning. Two batters later, the Aggies had men on the corners with two outs for Ortiz who sent a ball through the right side that he legged into a triple to score both runs and give NM State an 11-5 lead. The three-bagger for Ortiz also tied the program’s single season triples record with nine, as well as tying the career record with 17.
NM State then carried this lead into the eighth before adding to it in the top half with another record-tying frame. After three pitching changes for the Redhawks, the bases were loaded with no outs when Peterson sent a sacrifice fly to right field that brought in the first run. This left two runners in scoring position and Ehnes sent his second two-run triple of the day down the line in right to give the Aggies a ten-run advantage. This triple tied the school record for team triples in a season with 31. Mingus then brought in the runner 90 feet from home on a single to center for a 16-5 Aggie advantage.
The home team cut into an eleven-run lead for the Crimson & White in the bottom of the eighth inning. A change on the mound opened the frame before a pair of walks and a single loaded the bags with one out, forcing one more trip to the bullpen for the Aggies. The next batter for Seattle U then knocked a single through the right side to bring in two runs and put the NM State lead at 16-7 into the ninth.
Then in the top half of the final inning, the Aggies added some insurance runs all with two outs. With the bases loaded, back-to-back walks brought in the first two runs of the frame. Then pinch hitter Daniel Head sent a double into left field that cleared the bases to put the Crimson & White up 21-7.
A scoreless final frame followed and NM State secured the fourteen-run series opening win over conference foe Seattle U. After tossing 7.0 innings, Whittlesey (7-1) picked up the win on the mound for the Aggies.
At the plate, the team outhit the opposition 20-8, led by Ortiz who went 4-for-5 with three runs batted in and three runs scored, Ehnes who added a 4-for-6 day with five RBI and Peterson who went 3-for-5 with four runs scored.
The New Mexico State baseball team now gets set for game two of the three-game series versus Seattle U at 2 p.m. MT on Courter Baseball Field.