Top Seeded NMSU Baseball Drops Opener At WAC Tournament

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

MESA, Ariz. – The top-seeded New Mexico State baseball team took on No. 5 Northern Colorado Bears in the Western Athletic Conference baseball tournament on Thursday night. The Bears took a lead in the middle innings and held on to defeat the Aggies, 5-4, in the WAC Tournament matchup at Hohokam Stadium.

How it happened
After a bases loaded sacrifice fly put Northern Colorado (24-28) ahead 4-3 in the sixth inning, a wild pitch on a ball four brought home the fifth and eventual game-winning run for the Bears.

The game opened with a high-scoring affair in the first inning with five combined runs between the teams. NM State (35-21) starter Kyle Bradish allowed three runs to cross the plate in the top-half. The Aggies then responded with a pair of runs off of Northern Colorado right-hander Aaron Hamilton.

Following a pair of scoreless innings, NM State went on to load the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Joey Ortiz then knocked a grounder to the second baseman who got hung up and was not able to get any of the runners out which allowed a man to score for the Aggies to tie it up, 3-3.

After the Bears took the lead in the sixth, the Aggies tried to battle back in the final innings. In the bottom of the seventh, Dan Hetzel roped a one-out double to left field which scored a run and brought NM State within one, 5-4.

Ruger Rodriguez came in to pitch in the eighth for NM State and put down six batters in a row to keep the Aggies within striking distance.

Austin Botello led the rally for NM State in the bottom frame of the ninth with a lead-off single to right – which forced the Bears to dig into their bullpen. Hetzel then drew a six-pitch walk that put runners on first and second. Mason Fishback advanced Roman Trujillo and David Bellamy, who pinch-ran for Botello and Hetzel, to second and third.

With one out, Tristen Carranza was intentionally walked to load the bases – but a near wild pitch allowed NM State to plate the game-tying run. However, Northern Colorado’s catcher, Alex Kiel, was able to make a quick play on the ball – which held Trujillo at third. The rally for New Mexico State came to an end moments later after the next two Aggie batters struck out – leaving the bases loaded for the third time on Thursday.
NM State ended the night with 13 runners left on base, including three bases loaded situations. Kyle Bradish (8-2) took the loss in the evening contest after allowing five earned runs, tying a career-high.

The Aggies finished the game with 10 hits, led by the top of the order as Botello had three, while Brent Sakurai and LJ Hatch added two.

New Mexico State moves on in the double-elimination tournament to play the winner of the Seattle U and CSU Bakersfield on Friday, May 26, at 4 p.m. MT.