NMSU Baseball Shuts Out Sacramento State 2-0 To Advance To WAC Tournament Semifinals

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

MESA, AZ - The third-seeded New Mexico State baseball team took on two-seeded Sacramento State in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament on Thursday afternoon at Hohokam Stadium. The Aggies scored two runs in fourth inning and WAC Pitcher of the Year Jonathan Groff threw a gem en route to a shutout win over the Hornets, 2-0.

NM State (38-19) was not quiet early as they threatened with multiple runners in scoring position over the first few frames to put Sacramento State (31-24) starter Parker Brahms in a jam.

In the top of the second, Logan Ehnes led off with a single popped up to the infield that landed between the Hornets first baseman and catcher. Tristen Carranza then laced a double off the wall in left center to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. Unfortunately, a pair of groundouts and a strike out followed to hold the Aggie scoreless.

Then in the third inning, Marcus Still led off with a single to left field. A fielding error on a pickoff attempt moved Still to second and a fly out put the senior on third with two outs. Standing just 90 feet from home plate was the closest the Aggies would get in the frame with a groundout ending the scoreless top of the third.

All of the solid contact at the plate finally paid off for NM State in the fourth inning. There were two outs in the frame when Nick Gonzales got the first hit with a single into the outfield. Trey Stine lofted a ball into right field that fell in between three Hornets for a double to leave two Aggies in scoring position. Braden Williams then stepped to the dish and knocked a single through the right side that brought home both runners and gave NM State a 2-0 lead

Moving to the bottom of the fourth, the Hornets got to work as Aggie starter Jonathan Groff was in a bases loaded jam with just one out. The southpaw was able to remain composed getting the next batter to strike out looking; the final batter of the frame flied out to deep left field, and NM State still led 2-0 through four.

The Aggie offense was held scoreless over the next three frames, but Groff continued to cruise on the mound to hold the lead. The Castroville, Texas native threw three straight one-two-three innings to hold the Hornets silent.

Sacramento State was able to threaten early in the bottom of the eighth when a pair of singles put the go-ahead run at the plate. Groff then got a batter to fly out to left field for the second out and pitching coach Anthony Claggett visited the mound to game plan for the next at-bat that saw the senior hurler get a strike out swinging to hold the Hornets scoreless as they stranded two runners.

Looking to close out the game, NM State got into a bases loaded jam with no outs in the bottom of the ninth. Closer Brock Whittlesey settled down to get a pop out, strike out and fly out to escape the jam and seal the second-straight shutout victory for the Aggies in the conference tournament.

Groff (11-2) picked up the win after 8.0 innings of work with seven strikeouts. The 11th win of the year for the southpaw gives him the single-season record for wins in a single season at NM State. Whittlesey added to his record lead in single-season saves with his 11th as he closed out the contest.

New Mexico State now advances to the semifinals of the WAC Tournament as the team gets set to take on the winner of the nightcap between No. 1 Grand Canyon and No. 4 Seattle U. The Aggies matchup is set for 8 p.m. MT on Friday, May 25, at Hohokam Stadium.