The Daily Aggie :: 05/27/10

The Aggie baseball team will take on 4-seed Hawai'i today at 4:00 p.m. PT (5:00 p.m. MT) in their opening game of the 2010 WAC Tournament. The first round of the tournament saw the Warriors defeat Louisiana Tech 8-7 on a 2-run walk-off home run by UH second baseman Kolten Wong.

Nearly everyone had assumed going into the tournament that the Aggies would be facing 3-seed Nevada in the first game but San Jose State's 6-0 shutout of the Wolf Pack sent Nevada to the loser's bracket to face Louisiana Tech in an elimination game at 11:00 a.m. PT this morning.

"You get in trouble as a coach in the tournament when you start hoping that your'e going to face certain people because I dont' think it really matters much," said Coach Ward. "I think each team's got its own plusses and minuses and you have to prepare to beat whoever you're going to meet in whatever way you need to go at them."

The Aggies will send Dan Reid to the mound to face the Warriors. Reid went 6.2 innings against the Warriors giving up just six hits and only one run while striking out four in the Aggies' 2-1 extra innings loss in game three of the series in Hawai'i. UH will likely send lefty Sam Spangler to the hill to face the Aggie lineup. Spangler pitched in game two of the series and recorded 13 strikeouts in 5.2 innings giving up six hits, two runs, one earned and walked four Aggies.

"We knew either way, whether it was Nevada or Hawai'i, that we were going to draw a left-handed pitcher," said Coach Ward. "I think both coaches feel like the matchups are pretty good against each other. You'd expect it'll be like both of the first two games where it's close early and whoever gets the first breakthrough offensively will have a pretty good advantage."

We also discussed the playing field with Coach Ward. Hohokam Field is similar to Presley Askew in dimensions, it's a little deeper to center field, but similar dimensions. The infield, according to Coach Ward, is playing like a desert infield and is fast, not quite as fast as the Aggies' park has been playing but still fast.

"The field is in good shape, it's playing very very fast but there are no lips on it. It's what you'd expect from a Major League field. The grounds crew does a real good job but it's still a desert infield," said Coach Ward. "In watching both games yesterday there were probably four or five basehits on balls hit off the front part of the plate, the hardpan in front, that jumped up in the air. Most of them didn't go out of the infield but if the runner was a decent runner, he got a basehit out of it."

"That's something we're going to have to pay attention to, how hard the infield is," said Coach Ward. "There were a lot of errors made in the two games and most of them were infield errors and most of them were desert infield where the ball has a tendency on a two or three hopper, when the ball hits the second time, the first time it has backspin, the second time it has forward spin but what happens on a harder infield is the ball accelerates when it hits the second time and jumps at the infielder. You either have to come get it and try to get the short hop or you have to give ground or move backwards. If you react to the ball normally, you'll end up in between. The ball will hit and jump right at you."

"It plays better than our ballpark has played in the last few weeks, which it hasn't played very well at all, but our guys should have a little bit of an advantage because they're used to playing and understanding how it plays," said Coach Ward.

The Aggies will head to the ballpark around 1:15 to take batting practice at the off site which is directly behind center field at Hohokam.

Streaming video will be available via (subscription required), the game can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces and streaming audio will also be available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

We will have the full transcript of our interview with Coach Ward posted a little bit later in the day. We talk a little bit more about the matchup with Hawaii as well as more about the field and the tournament.

On to today's links...

Aggie Baseball
The NM State athletic website previews today's game.

Billy Hull of the Honolulu Star Bulletin recaps UH's come-from-behind victory over La. Tech.

Jack Magruder of the Honolulu Advertiser recaps UH's victory.

John Helsley of the Oklahoman talks about Robin Ventura's record setting win-streak and the man who saved it (with quotes from Gary Ward).

If you've found an article that you think other Aggie fans would like to read, send it to us! Select "The Daily Aggie" from the 'Category' drop-down.