Aggie Baseball Defeats Utah Valley 7-4 In Series Opener

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Junior Matthew McHugh shut down the Utah Valley offense on Friday to give the Aggies a 7-4 win. NM State has now won four games in a row, and remains tied for first place in the WAC with Seattle U.

UVU jumped on the board first as they led off the game with a double down the right field line. That runner would later come in on a wild pitch, giving the Wolverines an early 1-0 lead.

NM State would have something to say about that lead, as Daniel Johnson beat out a hard chopper to short to start the home half of the inning. Dan Hetzel was plunked to put runners at first and second. Johnson then stole third during the next at-bat. Austin Botello drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases with one out. Trey Stine reached on an error by the center fielder that cleared the bases, putting the Aggies up 3-1.

The Wolverines would get a run back in the second getting a baserunner on a single through the left side with one out. The run would later score on a sacrifice fly to right, pulling UVU within one run of the lead.

The Aggies extended their lead in the bottom half of the inning, as Mason Fishback was hit by a pitch to lead off. Brent Sakurai beat out a bunt down the first base line to put runners at first and second with no outs. Daniel Johnson drove in Fishback with what appeared to be a stand up double to the left-centerfield wall, but Johnson was ruled to have not touch first base and was called out on an appeal. Greg Popylisen brought home Sakurai with a sacrifice fly to center, putting the Aggies up 5-2.

Matthew McHugh, a native of Leawood, Kan., came in to pitch in the third, relieving starter Chris Kucko. Kucko was on a pitch count, having just come back from an upper body injury he suffered early in the season. The first UVU batter of the inning singled through the left side. With one out, McHugh hung a change up to Mark Kruger, who belted a two-run homer to right to cut the lead to 5-4.

After giving up the home run, McHugh shut down the Wolverines. In the next six and a third innings, McHugh only allowed one hit while striking out four UVU batters.

The Aggies added an insurance run in the fifth as Trey Stine singled to right field, and advanced to second on a wild pitch during the next at-bat. L.J. Hatch brought him home on a single through the left side of the infield.

NM State would add a final run in the eighth as Daniel Johnson led off with a single to center. Greg Popylisen laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Johnson to second. Dan Hetzel scored him with a base hit through the left side of the infield.

After delivering a dominant six and a third innings, McHugh was pulled from the game after giving a double to center field. Joe Galindo came in to close the game out, looking for his fourth save in as many appearances. Galindo got a fly out to left and a punch out to clinch the 7-4 win for the Aggies.

Both teams are back at it tomorrow at 1 pm for second game of the weekend series.