The New Mexico State baseball team closed out a three-game weekend series against Western Athletic Conference opponent Northern Colorado on Sunday at Presley Askew Field. After putting up nine runs in the first inning, the Aggies never lost the lead and went on to pull off a 19-9 run-rule victory in eight innings over the Bears for the series sweep.
Despite NM State (25-9, 9-3 WAC) producing a high scoring first inning, Northern Colorado (7-23, 3-9 WAC) was the first team on the board in the opening frame. The Bears saw a runner reach on a single and then an error on the pickoff attempt moved the runner all the way to third base. This saw the opposition then score the first run of the game with a single to center to put the Aggies behind 1-0 in the middle of the first.
This lead for Northern Colorado disappeared quickly though, when NM State posted its highest scoring frame in the bottom of the first. Logan Bottrell led off the frame with a triple to the gap in right and he was brought in to tie the game up when Joey Ortiz knocked an RBI single to right in the next at-bat.
Two walks followed to load the bases with no outs and Tristen Carranza lofted a sacrifice fly to center to plate one run and put the Aggies ahead 2-1. Two batters later, an infield error by the Bears plated the third run and the next batter reached on an infield single to load the bags once more. Kevin Jimenez then drew a walk to bring in one run and the team went around the order when Logan Bottrell got hit by a pitch to score one run and leave the bases loaded. The scoring closed when Ortiz cleared the bases with a grand slam over the wall in left field to give the Crimson & White a 9-1 lead into the second.
Northern Colorado then struck back in the top half of the second and third innings. In the second, the Bears had two men in scoring position with no outs and a wild pitch brought in the first run. This also moved a runner to third and saw him brought in on a sacrifice fly. Two batters later, Northern Colorado got back on the board with a solo home run and the second inning scoring closed with an RBI single that put the NM State lead at 9-5 into the third.
Each side scored multiple runs in the third, beginning with the Bears in the top half. A single led off the frame and the man then stole second to be scored in the next at-bat on an RBI single to center. The next batter then sent a double to the gap that scored a run and was scored from second off a single to centerfield that put the Aggies advantage at just one, 9-8.
Then in the bottom of the third inning, the Crimson & White expanded upon the lead. A pair of walks opened the frame and each runner was brought in on a bunt single that resulted in an error to put a runner on third with no outs as NM State now led 11-8. Ortiz continued to stay hot at the plate scoring the run with a double down the right field line. Nick Gonzales then added the final run of the inning with an RBI single up the middle to put the Aggies ahead 13-8 heading to the fourth.
NM State continued to produce at the plate, adding a few runs to the lead in the bottom of the fourth. With runners on second and third, Ortiz plated one with a sacrifice fly to left field that left a man on third. This run was scored when Gonzales sent a ground-rule double over the wall in left to put the home team up 15-8, a lead that lasted into the seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, Northern Colorado got back on the board. The Bears had runners on the corners with one out when a sacrifice fly to right field brought in one run and put the Aggies lead at 15-9.
The Crimson & White then responded with runs of their own in the bottom half. Gonzales led off the frame with a solo home run to left center to push the NM State edge to 16-9. Then Tristen Carranza sent a triple to the wall in center and was brought home on a Logan Ehnes sacrifice fly that put the Aggies in front 17-9.
Any hopes of a late comeback were squashed by NM State in the bottom of the eighth when the team added the final runs needed for a run-rule victory. With one man on, Ortiz plated the first run with a triple to the gap in right that not only gave the Crimson & White a nine-run lead, but also saw the senior shortstop complete the cycle. The game closed when the Aggies had runner son the corners and a sacrifice fly to right scored the final run to give NM State the 19-9 win to complete the conference series sweep of Northern Colorado.
A solid series finale win saw reliever Aldo Fernandez (1-2) pick up the win on the mound after tossing 3.2 scoreless innings. At the plate, the Aggies combined for 17 hits led by Ortiz who went 4-for-5 to hit for the cycle and add a season-high eight runs batted in an Gonzales was perfect at the plate going 4-for-4 with one home run and three RBI.
The New Mexico State baseball team now looks for another season sweep, this time features the Aggies heading north to Albuquerque, N.M. for the second installment of the Battle of I-25 against in-state rival New Mexico on Tuesday, April 16, at 6 p.m. MT.