The New Mexico State baseball team closed out the three-game Western Athletic Conference series versus Sacramento State on Sunday at John Smith Field. Another game that came down to the last out saw the Aggies carry a one-run lead into the final frame and end the game with a strikeout for the 3-2 series finale win over the Hornets.
Solid pitching opened for the first two innings of the contest with NM State (30-11, 13-5 WAC) starter Chance Hroch squaring off against Sacramento State (27-16, 13-5 WAC) hard-throwing right-hander Austin Roberts. Each hurler made easy for work for their first six out of the ballgame before the Aggies got on the board in the top of the third.
Noah Haupt recorded the first hit of the day with a single to center before Braden Williams knocked a base hit up the middle to put runners on the corners with just one out. Joey Ortiz then brought the man home from third on a fielder’s choice to shortstop that gave the Crimson & White a 1-0 lead.
The Aggies then looked to get out of the bottom of the third inning with two outs, but a throwing error on an infield hit advanced the runner all the way to third base. Sacramento State’s next batter then sent a single to left to score one run and tie the game up at 1-1.
Then in the top of the fourth Nick Gonzales helped get rid of the tie for NM State. The sophomore led off the frame and wasted no time turning on a ball that he sent over the wall in left field that gave the Aggies a 2-1 advantage.
NM State went on to grow its lead in the top of the sixth inning. With two outs and no runners on, Tristan Peterson crushed a ball to straight away centerfield for a solo home run that gave the visiting team a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Hornets were able to cut into the Aggies lead. A runner stood on second with two outs when a single through the left side plated one run for Sacramento State. This left a man on first and the opposition looked to tie the game up with a ball sent off the wall in centerfield but a great relay to Gonzales was fired home for the tag out that ended the frame with the Crimson & White ahead 3-2.
Sacramento State again threatened in the eighth inning forcing NM State to use three pitchers. Runners stood on first and second with no outs when Aldo Fernandez entered the game. The reliever got the first batter he faced to strikeout swinging before forcing a 1-4-3 double play to get out of the jam with the team still leading by one run.
Fernandez then returned to the mound in the final frame and ended the game with a strikeout looking to secure the 3-2 finale win and conference series victory for the team over Sacramento State. On the mound, Hroch (8-0) picked up the win after 6.0 innings pitched with eight strikeouts and Fernandez earned the first save of his Aggie career.
The New Mexico State baseball team now remains on the road for its midweek contest at Arizona on Tuesday, April 30, at 6 p.m. MT on Hi Corbett Field.