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).
Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News takes some responsibility for jinxing the Aggie baseball team.
The UNM athletic website previews tonight's game.
The Associated Press talks about the revolving door that has been the WAC.
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