Former NM State All-Americans Come Back To Play In Alumni Game Saturday

Written By: Valerie Munoz, for NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Four former All-Americans from New Mexico State will come back to play against the current Aggies in the Annual Alumni Game Saturday, Feb. 12, at Presley Askew field at 2:05 pm.

Since the first All-American selection in 1980 NM State has gone on to have 12 players named, eight of which have been under head coach Rocky Ward. Mark Aranda, Brian Marquez, and Billy Becher all played under coach Ward and will be returning for Saturday's game. The fourth All-American is Joe Williams who played from 1988-1990 under coach Elliott Avent.

"I always look forward to seeing so many of my former players come back to campus," Ward said. "It is hard to stay in touch once a players leaves your school, because they are so focused on starting their new jobs and new families. The game allows me to reconnect with young men who are very important to me."

Aranda, a former Aggie third baseman, was named third team All-American in 2005. He's also hold some season records at NM State still. He's seventh for home runs, with 22 in 2005, sixth in runs batted in with 85 in 2005, and first in hit by pitch with 19 in 2005. This is the sixth alumni game Aranda has participated in since he last played with the Aggies in 2005, and he's very excited for it.

"Every year it's kind of picking up more and more people are coming, and it's becoming more of an event than a game, more of a tradition," Aranda said.

Marquez, a former Aggie shortstop, was named to six different All-American teams in 2009, including the All-American team, after the Aggies won 44 home games that year. He is tied with Aranda for several school records including home runs and runs batted in. Marquez has the eighth highest batting average of .419 which he set in the 2009 season, is second in runs scored, and ninth in hits.

Former NM State first baseman Becher was named to five All-American teams in 2004 and to four teams in 2005. Becher holds the first and second place records for home runs with 32 in the 2003 season and 25 in the 2004 season, and is first in runs batted in with 118 in 2003 and in hits with 105 in 2003.

Other returning alumni for the game include NM State Hall of Fame Inductee Mario Moccia, and all-WAC selections Leo Aguirre, Richard Stout, and DJ Simon.

"As you get older you want to get more guys to come to give back to the program to try to remember the special times you had here when you played," Aranda said. "It's good to meet the newer guys that are fresh out that we never really knew. You get to know them and it becomes like a fraternity."

The Annual Alumni Game is the season opener for the men's baseball team. Come out and see current and former Aggies battle on the baseball diamond, as admission is free to everyone.