The Daily Aggie

The Daily Aggie :: 05/16/12

The Aggie baseball team lost a heartbreaker last night in Albuquerque on a 2-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning. The loss was the Aggies' ninth in their past ten game as the losses keep coming in new and interesting ways. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this late slide has been the Aggies have not played poorly. Last night, as has been the case throughout this losing stretch, they just were unable to capitalize on a few opportunities and saw the opposing team take advantage of a couple of Aggie miscues late. The Aggies led the game early 4-0 and then 4-2 but then fell behind 7-4 after a somewhat controversial safe call on a double-play ball that would have gotten the Aggies out of the inning leading 4-3 but instead four more runs came across after the called.

The Aggies rallied to tie the game in the top of the seventh, led 9-7 in the top of the eighth and brought in closer Scott Coffman but gave up two runs after two errors on the Aggies (including one by Coffman) in the bottom of the eighth allowed UNM to tie the game, led again 10-9 but another error in the bottom of the ninth allowed the game-tying run to score.

This was a well played game but certainly one that the Aggies feel like slipped through their fingers. The Aggies left the bases loaded in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings and really could have blown the game open with a couple of base hits in there.

The one bright spot for the Aggies is that their offense looks like it's starting to come around just in time for the final weekend of conference play and the conference tournament. After scoring two runs or fewer in five straight games, the Aggies have put together a seven run and a ten run game and have 30 base hits in the last two games. The key to them winning games again will be their ability to start hitting getting those hits with runners in scoring position.

The Aggies have a quick turnaround as they face Cal State-Bakersfield tonight at 7:00 p.m. (MDT) in Bakersfield before heading on to San Jose to close out the regular season with a three game series starting Friday.

Last night was a bad night for WAC teams as all three teams in action lost. The Aggies and Louisiana Tech both lost in extra innings and San Jose State lost to UC-Davis.

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The Daily Aggie :: 05/15/12

The Aggie baseball team heads to Albuquerque today to take on the Lobos in the final game of this year's Rio Grande Rivalry series. The Aggies have won the first three meetings and have clinched the series and are now looking for a clean sweep of the Lobos. The Aggies are also looking to generate some positive momentum as they head into the final week of the regular season after what has been a rough couple of weeks on the diamond.

Losers of eight of their past nine games, the Aggies have fallen victim to some bad baseball luck in addition to a bit of a slump offensively (and in the middle relief). Every series the Aggies have played has seen them suffer at least one unlucky play or bad bounce that has completely changed the complexion of a game or in some cases a series. It all started at Baylor in the second game of the series. The Aggies led the top ranked Bears 4-2 and appeared to have a double play which would have ended a Baylor threat. Instead, an egregiously bad call by the first base umpire (and we mean egregiously bad, one of the worst calls of the season in any sport the Aggies have played) kept the inning alive for Baylor and the floodgates opened. The Aggies would eventually lose the game 14-4. Would the Aggies have won that game? Who knows, but the Aggie offense had the Baylor starting pitcher under constant pressure and that inning allowed the Bears to stabilize the game in their favor.

The Aggies were the victim of some terrible, terrible luck in the first game in Hawai'i as Ryan Beck had to work a five-out inning (it's the first five-out, three strikeout inning we've ever seen). Beck recorded a strikeout for the final out of the inning but the pitch got away from catcher Zac Fisher. The Aggies would have been able to record the out down at first base, however, the batter's bat hit the ball causing it to carom away from Fisher and toward the Hawai'i dugout and it allowed the runner at second to advance to third. Fisher again recorded the third out of the inning on the very next batter but again a wild pitch on the strikeout allowed the runner to not only reach base but allowed the runner at third to advance home and score and in a series at Hawai'i where runs are at a premium, those kind of bad bounces can be costly.

Finally, this weekend the Aggies got a walk-off home run from Zach Voight in the bottom of the 12th inning against Fresno State. What could possibly be bad luck about a walk-off? Well, in the ensuing celebration, Voight suffered a severely sprained ankle and is now out for an undetermined amount of time. Voight has been the anchor in the infield this season and has also be one of the Aggies' leaders on the field.

As we noted with Aggie softball earlier this season, sports are fickle and a bounce here or there in your favor can completely change the complexion of a game, a streak, a season and unfortunately for the past three weekends, the bounces have gone away from the Aggies.

The good news is that the Aggies can turn things around starting today and they still have a shot at winning the regular season title if they can sweep San Jose State this weekend. Sports also seems to be somewhat cyclical and often times shows a little bit of symmetry and the last time the Aggies were mired in a bit of a down cycle offensively, they bounced back with a 16-12 victory over the Lobos in Las Cruces. Three games later they would start their school-record winning streak.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:05 p.m. first pitch and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 and online via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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The Daily Aggie :: 05/13/12 :: Aggie Baseball Seeding Scenarios

The 2012 WAC baseball regular season race comes to a close this week with six of the seven teams finishing up their final three game series. As usual it's been a wild and wacky race and as is nearly always the case, the tournament field is neither set nor has the regular season champion been determined. The WAC lead has been bounced around like a hot potato with nobody willing to take hold of it.

As a refresher the preseason coaches poll looked like this: 1) Fresno State, 2) San Jose State, 3) Hawai'i, T4) New Mexico State and Nevada, 6) Louisiana Tech, 7) Sacramento State.

As we head into the final weekend of play, Sacramento State is the leader in the clubhouse at 11-7 and will make their first WAC Tournament appearance since 2008. At 10-5 Nevada is the only team that controls their own destiny in terms of the regular season title. A series victory by the Wolf Pack over Hawai'i this week gives them the regular season title. Both New Mexico State and Hawai'i have seen their grasp on the regular season title slip through their fingers. The Aggies have lost 5-of-6 over the past two weeks to slip from first all the way into a tie for third with Hawai'i and the Warriors hold the head-to-head tiebreaker due to their series sweep. Likewise the Warriors saw their regular season title hopes take a massive hit as they were swept by Sacramento State and like the Aggies, fell from first to third.

At the bottom of the league sits San Jose State (5-10), Fresno State (6-9) and Louisiana Tech (6-9). The three teams will battle for the final two spots in the tournament with the winner of the Battle of the Bone (Louisiana Tech at Fresno State) securing one of those two spots. The loser could still make the tournament but their fate will also be determined by what happens in the New Mexico State vs. San Jose State series.

So the final three series in conference play look like this:

Nevada (10-5) vs. Hawai'i (8-7)
San Jose State (5-10) vs. New Mexico State (8-7)
Fresno State (6-9) vs. Louisiana Tech (6-9)

For the Aggies to win a share of the regular season title they will need to sweep San Jose State and have Hawai'i take at least two of three from Nevada.

Here are our projected seedings based on the Aggies' potential record in the final series.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 05/10/12

UPDATE:The baseball game between New Mexico State and Fresno State scheduled for 6:05p.m. today has been postponed due to inclement weather conditions. The game is now scheduled as part of a doubleheader that is set for 3 p.m. (MDT), Friday, May 11 at Presley Askew Field.

The New Mexico State baseball team returns to action tonight as they look to snap a 6-game losing streak that has seen them fall from first place in the WAC. The Aggies host perennial WAC power Fresno State for a three game series. The Bulldogs are having a down year, they currently sit in last place in the league, however, despite that fact this is a very dangerous team. In fact, Fresno State's been here before. Back in 2008 the Bulldogs sat in last place heading into the final weekend of WAC play and were on the verge of not even making the WAC tournament. What happened? They split with Sacramento State, got into the WAC tournament, beat the Aggies twice on championship Sunday in Honolulu and went on to win the national championship. Had they lost even one of those games against Sac State they would have been out of the tournament.

That is what the Aggies are dealing with this weekend, a team with its back against the wall just looking to get into the tournament and do some damage. This is a big weekend for the Aggies. A series victory will likely keep them on pace with Hawai'i and depending on what happens in the series between Hawai'i and Sacramento State, it could put them back into a tie for first (or even potentially in solo first place). While a regular season title is still well within reach for the Aggies, it's also important that they not slip below second place The top two teams in the regular season standings earn first round byes in the conference tournament and that could be a big advantage for New Mexico State given their excellent one-two punch of starters Ryan Beck and Michael Ormseth.

One player to watch for on the Fresno State team is outfielder Aaron Judge. You can't miss him, he's a 6'7" beast and is surprisingly fleet of foot for someone his size (he's 11-for-12 stealing bases this season which leads the team). He also gets a good breaks on the ball in the outfield.

The Aggies are going to need solid outings from their starting pitching and will definitely need better middle relief pitching than what they've been getting in the second half of the season (the slide really started in the third game of the Sacramento State series).

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:05 p.m. first pitch, weather permitting. Yesterday's WAC softball tournament saw a few delays due to rain and lightning. The game can be heard on KSNM AM 570 with streaming audio and video available via Aggie Access.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 05/01/12

The Aggie baseball team is back in action this afternoon as they host Texas Tech. The Aggies defeated Tech earlier this season 7-6 rallying in the top of the ninth to earn the victory. The Red Raiders will come to Las Cruces no doubt looking for a little revenge.

The Aggies meanwhile are looking to get back on the winning side of the ledger after a couple of losses at top ranked Baylor over the weekend. The Aggies will also be looking to generate a little momentum as they head to Honolulu this week for a crucial three-game conference set with the Warriors. As we noted yesterday, the Aggies are in prime position at the midway point of conference play and three series victories over the next three weekends will give them the regular season title.

Texas Tech is 25-22 overall and went 3-2 last week taking a series from Missouri on the weekend and splitting with the Lobos in Albuquerque earlier in the week. Michael Ormseth gets the starting nod for the Aggies tonight on the hill. Ormseth has been a little hit or miss on the hill as of late and needs a good outing for the Aggies. He'll also start one of the three games against Hawai'i later this week.

The Aggies and Red Raiders will get things underway at 4:05 p.m. (MDT) and the game will be broadcast on AggieVision.

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The Daily Aggie :: 04/30/12

The Aggie softball team picked up their first conference series victory of the season this past weekend as they defeated Utah State on Friday night and then again in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader. Unfortunately the Aggies were eliminated from WAC Tournament contention prior to the start of their doubleheader when Louisiana Tech defeated Nevada in the first game of their doubleheader in Reno. What that means is that Saturday was the last time the Aggie seniors will play at home in Las Cruces and the 2012 season will come to an end this weekend in San Jose.

It has been a tumultuous second half of the season for the Aggies as they've battled injuries and illness, something that they mostly stayed clear of during last season's championship run. Unfortunately the breaks have not gone the Aggies way this season as they did last year and it just goes to show that there's a little bit of good fortune involved in any championship run.

The Aggies have lost six one-run games in conference play and three more games by three and two runs. Last season in conference play the Aggies won 10 games decided by three runs or fewer and they only lost three one-run games in conference play, all three coming in the final at-bat in the series at Hawai'i and the Aggies were a perfect 7-0 against WAC opponents in games decided by one run.

As bad as their 3-14 conference record may look on paper, they have been just as equally competitive this conference season as they were last season, however, their results in close games are the difference between being 3-14 and being 12-4 (which by the way would be a game out of first place).

The Aggie baseball team returns to action as they play a third consecutive game against Big 12 competition as they face Texas Tech. The Aggies lost both games at No. 1/3 Baylor this weekend but it was a valuable experience for the Aggies. Game one was an absolute pitcher's duel between two aces and it proved that the Aggies' ace Ryan Beck is every bit as good as any top pitcher in the country. His breaking ball on Friday night could only be described as "filthy" and the Baylor radio duo said it was probably the best breaking ball they'd seen this season.

Even though the Aggies lost both games they widened their lead in the league race thanks to some surprising results. Louisiana Tech picked themselves off the mat taking two of three from Hawai'i (and would have swept if not for a tough-luck loss that was eerily similar to their first loss in Las Cruces last weekend). Nevada took two of three from Fresno State and Sacramento State continued their surprisingly strong showing by taking two of three from San Jose State.

When the dust settled the Aggies found themselves with a two-game lead in the loss column over Hawai'i, this weekend's opponent, a two-game lead in the loss column over San Jose State (whom they'll face in San Jose in the final weekend of the season) and a three-game lead in the loss column over both Nevada and Sacramento State (but effectively a four-game lead because of their series victories over both).

As the Aggies enter the second half of league play they are now in full control of their own destiny in terms of the regular season title. Win three series and they will be the regular season champions. It's as simple as that.

Finally, some very bad news on the conference realignment front as now appears that UT-San Antonio and Louisiana Tech are headed to Conference USA and Utah State and San Jose State are headed to the Mountain West. There are also rumblings that a Sun Belt offer is imminent for Texas State. If it's all true (and we have no reason to believe that it's not) it leaves the WAC with just two football playing schools for the 2013 season and potentially just six all-sport schools (New Mexico State, Idaho, Denver, Seattle, Boise State and UT-Arlington).

We've seen earlier reports that stated UT-Arlington could reconsider their move to the WAC (i.e. stay in the Southland) should the WAC destabilize (which is now happening).

The next move could belong to Seattle and Denver. We think they'll make a big push to get into the West Coast Conference. The WCC recently expanded adding BYU (the fallout from the WAC's failed "Project") and will add Pacific for the 2013-14 athletic season. That would bring conference membership to 10. They could add Seattle (a fellow Jesuit school) and that would give Gonzaga a travel partner and they could add Denver (although not a Jesuit school, they are a private institution whose academic profile may line up with those of the WCC schools) and give BYU a travel partner.

Potential expansion targets for the WAC to remain a solvent non-football playing conference include: Cal State-Bakersfield (currently a Division I independent), Utah Valley (currently a member of the Great West Conference), New Orleans (has decided to stay in Division I), UT-Pan American and Houston Baptist (both also members of the Great West).

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next two months as June 30th approaches (the deadline for submitting intention to leave the conference).

The Daily Aggie :: 04/27/12

The Aggie baseball, softball and men's and women's tennis teams are all in action today. The Aggie men's tennis team will take on 5-seed Nevada today at noon while the Aggie women's team will play their semifinal match against 1-seed Fresno State at 3:00 p.m. The women defeated San Jose State yesterday in the quarterfinals and did so after losing the doubles point. The Aggies' top player Manon Sylvain battled back after losing the first set 6-2 to win 7-6 (7-5) and 6-1 and was the clinching point for the Aggies in their 4-2 win

The Aggies also picked up some All-Conference honors yesterday as Matej Stake was named to the men's All-WAC First Team, doubles partners Marc Westgate and Luis Ramirez were named to the men's doubles All-WAC Second Team and Manon Sylvain was named to the women's All-WAC Second Team.

The Aggie softball team hosts Utah State this weekend in the second to last conference series of the season but the final home conference series for New Mexico State. The Aggies have battled injuries and illness the entire conference season but have really been playing well as of late despite not getting wins to show for it. The Aggies went toe-to-toe with Fresno State this past weekend and it's indicative of a team that has not given up on the season. The odds are long for the Aggies to make the WAC tournament, they'd need to sweep the final six games and have Louisiana Tech lose its final six games, an unlikely scenario for both teams but stranger things have happened. The Aggies needed about six or seven things to go right for them down the stretch two years ago in order for them to make the conference tournament and they got every single break they needed and qualified.

The Aggies and UtAgs square off tonight on AggieVision at 6:00 p.m. (MDT) and wrap up the series tomorrow with a doubleheader.

The Aggie baseball team is in Waco this weekend to take on the Baylor Bears. The Aggies' series with Baylor has garnered some national attention for the Aggies in part because of the Bears' recent 24-game winning streak but also because of the Aggies' outstanding season. Both Baseball America and Perfect Game Baseball had feature stories on the Aggies yesterday in advance of the two-game set with the Bears.

These two games will be an interesting matchup on both sides. Both teams are throwing their number one and two pitchers and the combined record for the four starters is an amazing 24-2.

The Aggies aren't going into these two games looking at these as "upset" opportunities. The Aggies have already arrived. These two games are a dress rehearsal for a potential Regional and Super Regional situation. Because of the facility situation for the Aggies, they'll be a road team no matter what seed they end up with the NCAA Tournament. NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals draw large partisan home crowds, something the Aggies have yet to experience. These Baylor games will help prepare them for that stage. The Bears have been drawing sellouts the their three-game series with Texas A&M over the weekend set a Baylor attendance record with 5,911 fans seeing game two of that series (the first of the two home games for Baylor in that series). That 5,911 fans is more than many of the Aggies' men's basketball games drew last season (think about that for a second).

Regardless of the outcome of the two-game series the Aggies will benefit from the experience of playing on the big stage and we really do believe that the Aggies can at the very least split with Baylor.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 5:35 p.m. (MDT) first pitch and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 and also streaming online via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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The Daily Aggie :: 04/26/12

The Aggie women's golf team wrapped up the 2012 WAC Championship tournament with a fifth place finish as San Jose State ran away with the title notching their fourth in a row. Demi Mak provided some excitement for Aggie fans on the final day as she recorded the tournament's low round with a 67 to force a sudden-death playoff with Idaho's Kayla Mortellaro. Mak and Mortellaro each parred the first three holes of the playoff but Mortellaro birdied the fourth hole for the victory. As anyone who plays golf knows, if you're going to lose a playoff, you'd rather lose to a birdie than a par or bogey because it means you've made your opponent earn it.

Mak earned First Team All-WAC honors for her second place finish and was the only Aggie to earn All-WAC honors.

The Aggie men's and women's tennis teams kick off the 2012 Tennis Championships which are being hosted in Las Cruces for the second time since joining the WAC. The fourth-seeded Aggie women get underway at noon (MDT) today and take on fifth-seeded San Jose State.

The men are also a four-seed and take on five-seed Nevada tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. (MDT).

The Baylor Bears baseball team bounced back from having their 24-game winning streak snapped as they defeated UT-Arlington 6-4 last night. The Aggies take on the Bears tomorrow and Saturday with a chance to notch a win over the No. 1 ranked (Collegiate Baseball News) Bears and if we're not mistaken, it would be New Mexico State's first win over a No. 1 ranked opponent since the baseball team defeated Texas Tech a few years back. The next highest ranked victory over a ranked team was earlier this season when the Aggie Equestrian knocked off No. 2 ranked South Carolina.

The Aggies will be taking on Baylor's top two pitchers, Josh Turley and Trent Blank, both of whom are on the National Pitcher of the Year watch list. The Aggies will counter with the one-two punch of Ryan Beck and Adam Mott, both pitchers who have had outstanding years (it's a bit disappointing that none of the Aggie pitchers were name to the initial watch list).

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The Daily Aggie :: 04/23/12

It was an outstanding weekend for the Aggie baseball team as they swept Louisiana Tech and after the dust settled with the other two WAC series the Aggies remain in first place in WAC play at 7-2. Hawai'i took two of three from San Jose State (after the Spartans opened up by sweeping Fresno State) and Sacramento State continued their red-hot play taking two of three from Nevada.

The Aggies are out of conference this weekend since there are only seven WAC baseball playing schools that means there's an odd man out each weekend during league play and this weekend it's the Aggies. They'll be taking on the hottest team in the nation, Baylor. The Bears are riding a 24-game winning streak (with two more games this week before facing the Aggies this weekend) and it's an opportunity to solidify the Aggies' at-large chances.

The Aggies will be able to head to Waco with a completely rested pitching staff while the Bears will have burned at least a few pitchers in their two mid-week games this week against UT-San Antonio and UT-Arlington.

An interesting note on the Bears' 24-game winnings streak -- During the streak, 13 of Baylor's wins have been decided by one or two runs, including 11 of the last 15. Likewise, the Aggies' current run has seen them pull off some late-inning heroics including the two walk-off victories against Louisiana Tech this past weekend.

The Aggie softball team was swept in Fresno over the weekend falling victim to some superb pitching from Fresno State. The Aggies scored just two runs in the three games but on the bright side, the Aggies' pitching was nearly as stellar. The Bulldogs only scored five runs combined in the three games in which they won 1-0, 3-1 and 2-1.

The Aggies still have an outside shot at qualifying for the WAC tournament. They will have to sweep both remaining series (at home against Utah State and on the road at San Jose State) and Louisiana Tech will have to lose all six of their remaining games, three at home versus Nevada and three on the road at Fresno State.

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The Daily Aggie :: 04/17/12

Five run leads were not the place to be this weekend. The Aggie baseball and softball teams combined to lose four five-run leads and in turn lose all four games. The Aggie baseball team dropped the final two games of their four-game set with Sacramento State after jumping out to 5-0 leads in both games. Fortunately for the Aggies just one of the two losses counted toward the conference standings but the Aggies' at-large profile took a bit of a hit, although the bizarre aspect of the RPI is that because the Aggies' RPI was so high (it actually only dropped to 25 from 19 entering the weekend series) the Hornets actually jumped 50-some odd spots with the two wins which somewhat neutralizes the bad nature of the losses. That combined with the Aggies' strong non-conference schedule and those opponents continuing to put up quality wins is helping to keep the Aggies' RPI inside the Top 50 (again, the upside of only having 18 conference games is that their impact of losses to lower RPI conference teams is neutralized by the overwhelming number of games against higher RPI teams).

Back to the conference situation. The Aggies' loss against Sacramento State on Sunday which counted toward conference play was tough because the other two conference series this past weekend resulted in sweeps. Nevada swept three from Louisiana Tech whom the Aggies host this weekend (more on that in a second) and San Jose State opened up league play (they were the odd team out last weekend) with a shocking three-game sweep over Fresno State in Fresno.

Louisiana Tech now sits at 1-4 in conference play coming into Las Cruces and is very much a wounded animal in desperate need of wins. The Aggies just need to continue to win series and hopefully pick up a sweep along the way. Both San Jose State and Nevada have done so and as we've stated before we think a 14-4 record will win the league which means you'll need to win every series and sweep at least two of those series during conference play.

Perhaps the biggest area of concern for the Aggies after the first two weekends of play is their pitching. Coming into conference play it had been steady but in the first weekend the starting pitching was shaky and this past weekend the relief pitching was shaky (at least in the final two games of the series). As was the case after the first weekend of play, it's a good sign that the Aggies have continued to be able to win despite not clicking on all cylinders.

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