The New Mexico State baseball team made its second and final trip of the regular season to Hi Corbett Field to take on Arizona on Tuesday night. An explosive night at the plate saw the Aggies put up runs in seven straight innings en route to a 15-13 win over the Wildcats.
Early pitching woes plagued both Arizona (19-23) and NM State (31-11) with each side jumping on the opposing starter in the top of the first. Joey Ortiz led off the game with a single off the mound before advancing to second on a passed ball. The junior was then scored in the next at-bat when Logan Ehnes sent a double to the warning track in left field.
A base on balls was issued to the next Aggie batter to put two runners on with no outs and Tristen Carranza brought in one with a base knock to the gap in left that left runners on the corners. Two batters later, an infield groundout brought in the man from third for a 3-0 NM State lead. The next batter for the Crimson & White was then walked forcing the Wildcats to make an early move to the pen with the reliever finally ending the top half with the Aggies leading by three.
This advantage did not last long with the Arizona offense getting going in the bottom half of the first. With two outs, the Wildcats got their first two runs in on a double down the left field line. Then the oppositions next batter knocked a single to right that brought in the game-tying run, 3-3. Then with two runners in scoring position. Arizona saw a throwing error go out of the field of play two score both runs putting NM State behind 5-3 as the visitors then brought in a reliever of their own to end the first inning down by two.
Early scoring continued in the top of the second. Back-to-back walks to open the frame forced the Wildcats to make another pitching change before Ehnes laced a single to right to bring in the first run. This left runners on the corners and Nick Gonzales lofted a sacrifice fly to center field that plated the game-tying run, 5-5, into the bottom of the second.
The tie ballgame disappeared and became a deficit for the Aggies once again with the Wildcats crossing the plate in the bottom half of the second. A single loaded the bases with one out, which made the Crimson & White bring in another relief pitcher. The first batter faced then sent a sacrifice fly to center that put NM State behind 6-5.
As each side was accustomed to early on, the Aggies answered in their next trip to the plate. Eric Mingus was the first runner on when he sent a triple down the line in left. Standing 90 feet from home plate he was scored on an infield groundout and the score stood at 6-6 through three innings with Wyatt Kelley tossing the first scoreless frame of the night in the bottom half.
Then in the top of the fourth NM State retook the lead. One runner was on first base when Nick Gonzales sent a double to left field that scored the first run of the frame. A walk followed by a hit by pitch loaded the bases for the Aggies and Kevin Jimenez sent a shot to second that was bobbled for an error and another run crossed the plate. Eric Mingus then closed the scoring with a sacrifice fly to left field to give the Crimson & White a 9-6 advantage.
In the next half inning, Arizona chipped away at the NM State lead. A walk led off the frame before a single through the left side brought home one run for the Wildcats. The opposition looked to add to the total but stranded two runners in scoring position to end the frame, giving Arizona eight runners left on base through four innings with NM State ahead 9-7.
This lead for the Aggies then expanded in the team’s fifth-straight scoring frame to open the contest. A runner stood on second with two outs and the Wildcats intentionally walked Gonzales to put a force out at bases first through third. Carranza then stepped to the plate and made Arizona pay for that when he crushed a three-run homer over the wall in left field giving the Aggies a 12-7 lead through five.
Keeping the scoring going, NM State got back on the board once again in the top of the sixth. Noah Haupt led off the frame with a triple off the wall in centerfield before he was brought home by the next batter, Jason Bush, who sent an RBI single up the middle to put NM State ahead 13-7 after six.
The Crimson & White then continued to add to the scoreboard in the seventh inning. An intentional walk, followed by a single to left loaded the bases with one out. Mingus then lofted a sacrifice fly to into right field that brought in one run. Haupt then followed that up with an RBI single through the right side and the Aggies lead stood at 15-7.
Arizona then cut into this lead for the visitors in the bottom half of the seventh. A triple led off the frame and in the next at-bat the Wildcats runner was brought in on a sacrifice fly to left field putting the NM State advantage at 15-8. This lead got smaller when with runners on first and second a single up the middle plated one more run for Arizona. Then after a wild pitch moved Wildcat runners to second and third, an infield grounder saw an error on the flip to the pitcher at first score both runners and NM State’s lead was now 15-11 at the end of seven.
Neither side could get anything going in the eighth and then Arizona looked to mount a comeback in the bottom of the ninth. With one runner on and one out, the Wildcats saw a home run to right field put the Aggies lead at just two, 15-13. This would be all the opposition could muster, however, with Keaton Graf getting the final two batters to fly out and ground out to secure the Aggies 15-13 victory.
A strong night at the plate saw NM State record 18 hits led by Carranza who went 3-for-5 with one home run and four runs batted in, Ortiz added a 4-for-5 night with three runs scored and Gonzales went 2-for 3 two RBI.
This marked the first win for NM State over Arizona since 2012 when the Aggies beat the eventual national champion Wildcats twice on the year.
The New Mexico State baseball team now returns home for a crucial three-game conference series versus UT Rio Grande Valley, May 3-5, at Presley Askew Field.