NMSU Baseball Ends Season With 11-7 Loss To CSU Bakersfield

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

MESA, AZ - The New Mexico State baseball team fell behind early and ended its season at the WAC Tournament against CSU Bakersfield. After giving up six runs in the first inning, the team went on to surrender five more and fall to the Roadrunners, 11-7.

How it happened
After a scoreless opening frame for NM State (35-22), the CSU Bakersfield (31-23) bats got going in the bottom half of the first against Aggie starter Marcel Renteria. With men on the corners and one out, a single through the left side brought in the first run for the ‘Runners.

CSUB chased Renteria out of the game and forced NM State to bring in Andy Frakes after the Nogales, Ariz., product loaded the bases with two outs. It wouldn’t be until three batters later before the Aggies would be able to get out of the first frame trailing the second-seeded ‘Runners 6-0.

The Aggies responded in the top of the third when Greg Popylisen rounded the bases to score NM State’s first run on a single through the left side from Brent Sakurai – who finished the game 4-of-5 from the plate.

Mason Fishback cut the CSU Bakersfield lead to 6-3 when he turned on the first pitch he saw against CSUB starter Andrew Hansen over the left field fence. That would be the closest NM State would get Friday evening with the ‘Runners getting those two runs back in their half of the fourth inning – which brought in the Aggie southpaw Johnathan Groff. However, the Roadrunners added three more runs with Groff on the hill in the fourth to put the Aggies behind 11-3.

Not going down without a fight, NM State cut into the deficit in the sixth after a lead-off single through the right side by Austin Botello gave way to Dan Hetzel’s two-run shot – which made it 11-5.

Groff continued to pitch scoreless baseball but the NM State bats could not answer the call until the final inning. A pinch-hit single from Kiser and Sakurai’s fourth hit of the evening forced the CSUB skipper to bring in Naithen Dewsnap to relieve Hansen – who threw 120 pitches over 8.1 innings of work.

A wild throw on his first pitch to LJ Hatch moved both runners into scoring position before the shortstop sent them home on a single up the middle to bring NM State within 11-7. That score would stand final, however, and end the Aggie baseball season.

New Mexico State completed the season with their second-straight 34-plus win season, which was last done consecutively from 2009-2012. The list of accomplishments was not short for this squad who tallied seven All-WAC honors, which tied for a conference-high.

The veteran team of seniors on NM State was head coach Brian Green’s first recruitment class which also made waves, earning the first nationally-ranked class in New Mexico State baseball history.

By The Numbers
Brent Sakurai finished the WAC Tournament with a team-high batting average of .600 (6-10)… the top of the Aggie order – Sakurai, Hatch and Botello – went 12-for-29 good for a .414 BA... at season’s end, eight of the nine Aggie starters finished with a BA above .300

Quotable
On the totality of the season…

Obviously a disappointing end to a really good season and you know, just really proud of the seniors. I feel for them, but that’s the first recruiting class now. Those guys that will go away and they’ve put their mark on New Mexico State baseball, back-to-back 34 wins or better seasons. No. 2 seed last year coming into this and one this year; the program has changed because of them and all these kids. It’s painful, it hurts and we’ll go home rest and get back to work and see if we can continue to elevate the program and keep taking strides towards winning championships.

On the motivation of this senior class for the underclassmen…

Yeah…I think there’s a lot of it. I hope that the younger guys see that, how hard it really is to take that next step. You can always do a great job with recruiting and really change a program if you can change the mentally, but that next step of winning championships is really difficult to do and it’s a big step. You hope the sophomore class really sees how hard and even look at what the seniors did this tournament. I mean, they played unbelieve able. Our first five hitters were just off the charts and our older guys in the bullpen played great.

You look at a Trey Stine who’s coming back, a Caleb Henderson who’s coming back and then you’ve got a large sophomore class coming back. You really hope those guys really take a look at that and understand how important leadership is and that’s what the seniors did for us in terms of elevating the program.