NMSU Baseball Takes Game Two Of Series With Northern Colorado

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Thanks to timely hitting and a great day from the Aggie bullpen, New Mexico State claimed its fourth-straight series victory Saturday afternoon with a 7-4 win over Northern Colorado in a nationally televised game at Presley Askew Field.

With the win, Groff moved to 6-4 on the year – which ties Kyle Bradish and Marcel Renteria for the team-lead in wins.

How It Happened
After a quiet first inning, Northern Colorado (15-20, 4-6 WAC) struck first against Aggie (25-15, 10-1 WAC) starter Johnathan Groff. A walk, stolen base and groundout moved UNC’s leadoff hitter, Brent Minnick, to third and eventually scored on a single to left from Alex Kiel. Despite giving up back-to-back singles with two outs, the Aggie southpaw was able to get Evan Johnson to pop up to LJ Hatch.

NM State answered back in the bottom of the third when Brent Sakurai beat out a throw at first on a ball hit deep in the infield that allowed Marcus Still to score from third. However, Nick Tanner put the bad guys back on top 2-1 in the top of the fourth when he led the inning off with a solo homer to left field.

Sakurai knocked home his second RBI of the afternoon in the fifth and tied things up at 2-2 on a single to right, but another solo shot to left by the Bears – this time from Dean Lawson – regained the Northern Colorado lead, 3-2.

Not to be outdone, Dan Hetzel plated the tying run for NM State in the bottom of the frame when he roped a double down the left-field line and scored Mason Fishback – who doubled to right to lead off the inning. That hit ended the day for Northern Colorado’s starter, Connor Leedholm, but didn’t do much to stall the Aggie offense.

After a five-pitch walk to Hatch, back-to-back singles from Fishback and Still plated two more runs for NM State for the 5-3 lead. Alex Reyes came in relief of Groff in the seventh, who left the game after six innings of work and gave up just three earned runs on six hits with six strikeouts and pair of walks.

Reyes got into some trouble on the hill in the seventh and loaded the bases which walked in the run to put the Bears within 5-4 of NM State with just one out before being yanked.

With the bases loaded, Dalton Shalberg came out and the got the first batter he saw to fly out to Hatch just past the infield by the line on the left side. He then caught UNC’s Alex Kiel on the check swing to get out of the jam with a breaking ball on the outside corner.

Hetzel gave New Mexico State some insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh, 7-4, when he crushed the payoff pitch from Northern Colorado’s Cody Carroll over the trees out in left field.

Shalberg returned to the mound to pitch a scoreless eighth before Ruger Rodriguez came in and shut the door on the Bears for his seventh save of the season with three punch outs.

By The Numbers
Hetzel recorded his sixth game with at least three RBI on Saturday when he plated three and scored two while going 2-for-4 on the day…he’s now tied with Botello for the team lead with 12 multi-hit games…Botello has now reached base safely in 15-straight games while Sakurai extended his to 13…Aggie starters have now thrown at least six innings in all 11 conference games…Botello, Fishback and Still all finished the day 3-for-4 from the plate while Sakurai and Hetzel rounded out the list of Aggies with multiple hits…

Odds and Ends
With his seventh save of the season, Rodriguez is now tied with Erik Nyquist (2009) for fourth on the single-season saves list and is just two shy of tying Scott Coffman (2011) and Orlando Griego (1989) for the most saves in a single-season.

Up Next
New Mexico State looks for its third series sweep of the season in conference play on Sunday, April 23, when it squares off against Northern Colorado in the series finale at Presley Askew Field.