It was a crazy day on the diamond yesterday for the Aggie baseball and softball teams. The baseball team lost to No. 4 Rice in a game that saw a pair of home runs, a double steal, a balk, a collision between the shortstop and third baseman, five double plays, two errors, a four out inning, 11 runs and 18 hits... and that was just the first four innings of the game and if that wasn't enough excitement, on the softball side we saw an inside the park grand slam from UTEP and what may or may not have been a three ball walk (in favor of the Aggies).
Back to the baseball game, the Aggies really should have won the game. Of all that action, one of the home runs was by the Aggies' Zach Voight, they were the ones who turned three of the five double plays but they were also the ones who had a collision between the third baseman and shortstop, the two errors and the four out inning (which in reality was a five out inning because of one of the errors).
Tyler Mack pitched well for the Aggies but was the victim of some suspect defense at times (again, this team turned three double plays in the first four innings and missed turning a fourth later in the game by a half step). Unfortunately for the Aggies and Mack, they allowed Rice extra outs, particularly in the second and third innings.
In the second, the Aggies turned one of those three double plays to start the inning and Tyler Mack struck out the next batter for the would-be third out, however, the pitch was a little wild, bounced off catcher Zac Fisher and caromed halfway to the Aggie dugout allowing the runner to advance to first. Two singles later that runner scored. Mack would seemingly get out of the inning inducing a ground ball to sure-handed second baseman Parker Hipp but Hipp uncharacteristically bobbled the ball which allowed the runner to reach safely and on the bobble, the runner from third scored. The Aggies did immediately get out of the inning as Fisher threw out the runner trying to advance from second to third but those were two runs that should not have been scored.
In the third Rice put the first runner on via an infield single to the third baseman Robert Lecount who made the throw in time but the threw pulled Tanner Rust off of the bag (scored an infield single). The next Rice batter dropped down an absolutely perfect bunt. The next batter also dropped down a bunt which was fielded cleanly by Mack who threw to Tanner Rust at first but Rust was unable to hold on to the ball (it appeared the Rice player may have run into Rust's glove) but in any event the Owls had loaded the bases instead of the Aggies retiring two of the first three batters. Rice would eventually score two more runs that should not have been scored.
You take those two runs away and the Aggies win 5-3. As head coach Rocky Ward noted after the game, championship-level teams make those defensive plays 100 percent of the time. Unfortunately for the Aggies, errors and defensive miscues have cost them two victories this season.
It should also be noted that the Aggies lit up (in relative terms) the Owls' starting pitcher Chase McDowell, who by the way is a projected Top 50 pick in the upcoming MLB June amateur draft and the Aggies were also able to handle the Owls' 97 mph pitcher who came in to close out the game. The Aggies got what they wanted, they had the top of the order at bat in the ninth. Parker Hipp drew a walk and Zac Fisher represented the tying run at the plate.
The Aggies get another crack at Rice today as they wrap up the two-game series today at 3:30 p.m. (MT). Live Streaming audio will be available via Aggie Access (subscription required).
The Aggie softball team also had themselves a bit of a crazy afternoon at the park. The Aggies loaded the bases in the first but failed to score, Alex Newman put two runners on in the bottom of the first but held UTEP scoreless. The Aggies eventually took a 7-1 lead but then gave up a rare inside-the-park grand slam which cut the lead to 7-5 but then came back and scored two runs in the top of the seventh to go ahead 9-5. Head coach Kathy Rodolph pulled Newman in the bottom of the seventh with one out and brought in freshman Karysta Donisthorpe who has struggled a bit to adjust to the Division I level bats but Donisthorpe came in and got a pair of strikeouts to end the game which will undoubtedly help her confidence immensely (she struck out two of the Miners' best hitters in Cami Carrera who had hit a solo home run earlier off of Newman and Stepanie Troupe).
The Aggies head to California this weekend for the Cathedral City Classic where they'll need to get outstanding performances from their defense and pitching.
Aggie basketball wraps up home conference play this week against Hawai'i and San Jose State. If the Aggies want to grab the two seed, then winning against Hawai'i will be very important. A loss against Hawai'i would drop the Aggies into a tie with the Warriors with UH holding the head-to-head tiebreaker and also potentially Idaho as well depending on whether or not they can win in Logan.
We worked out the majority of the seeding scenarios for the Aggies yesterday (which you may or may not have seen on Jason Groves' blog.
With four games left here is what would happen based on the final four-game stretch:
4-0 -- Aggies earn the 2-seed because they would finish with a better record than both Hawai'i and Idaho.
3-1 -- L to SJSU and Idaho finishes 3-0. The Aggies earn the 2-seed because of a season sweep of Fresno State, Idaho spit the season series with Fresno State. (this also means Hawai'i would finish with at least 6 losses).
3-1 -- L to Fresno St and Idaho finishes 3-0. The Aggies earn the 2-seed because of higher RPI. Both New Mexico State and Idaho would have split with the same four teams and the tiebreaker would come down to better regular season RPI (per WAC tiebreaker rules).
3-1 -- L to UH. Hawai'i finishes 3-1 or worse, Idaho finishes 2-1 or worse, Aggies earn the 2-seed due to a better record than both Hawai'i and Idaho.
3-1 -- L to Nevada and Idaho finishes 3-0 then NMSU earns the 3-seed (this would mean Hawai'i finishes with at least 6 losses)
3-1 -- L to Hawai'i and Idaho finishes 3-0 then NMSU earns the 3-seed (Idaho splits the season series with Hawai'i while the Aggies lose the season series to Hawai'i and Hawai'i finishes with at least 5 losses).
3-1 -- L to Hawai'i and Hawaii finished 4-0. Hawai'i earns the 2-seed because of their head-to-head sweep and Aggies earn the 3-seed because Idaho finishes with at least 5 losses.
There are also other seeding scenarios with the Aggies finishing 2-2. Let's just say that the Aggies would finish fourth (but no lower) but would be unlikely to finish second unless Hawai'i were to go 2-2 and Idaho were to go 1-2 over their final respective games.
The 2-seed and 3-seeds are interchangeable as they would face each other in the semifinal. What everyone else is doing over the final two weekends of play is trying to avoid the 4-seed which would mean a semifinal date against top seed Nevada.
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