NMSU Baseball Escapes With 10-9 Victory In Series Opener With Northern Colorado

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State baseball team hosted Western Athletic Conference challenger Northern Colorado in the first of three games on Friday night at Presley Askew Field. After taking the lead with a four-run sixth inning, the Aggies got into a bases loaded jam up one with one out in the ninth when a clutch game-ending double play secured the 10-9 series opening win over the Bears.

For the opener, NM State (23-9, 7-3 WAC) sent out usual Friday night starter Brock Whittlesey to square off on the mound against Northern Colorado (7-21, 3-7 WAC) hurler Isaac Bracken. Each pitcher got tagged in the opening frame to open up the scoring.

In the top of the first, Northern Colorado leadoff hitter Jack Pauley, the opposition’s home run leader, sent a ball over the batter’s eye in center field for a solo home run. This gave the Bears a 1-0 lead over the Aggies until the Crimson & White answered in the bottom half.

Logan Bottrell led off the bottom of the first with a single to left before stealing second and then advancing to third on an infield groundout. With the runner standing 90 feet from home plate, Nick Gonzales brought him in with a sacrifice fly to right that tied the game up 1-1 into the second inning.

The opposition then got back on the board to put the Aggies behind in the top half of the second. Northern Colorado’s first run of the frame came off a two-run home run to left center to put NM State down 3-1. The next batter then sent a solo home run over the wall in left and the Aggies trailed 4-1 into the third.

Looking to chip away at the deficit, the Aggies did so in the bottom of the third. Joey Ortiz led off the frame and added to the game’s home run total with a solo shot to left center and NM State only trailed by two, 4-2, which lasted into the fifth.

Northern Colorado added to its total in the top of the fifth to expand the Aggies deficit. A throwing error on an infield grounder allowed the Bears runner to advance all the way to third before a sacrifice fly in the next at-bat scored the man to put NM State down 5-2.

The Crimson & White were able to answer in the bottom half of the fifth, to tie the game up with a two-out rally. Tristan Peterson was the first runner on with a base on balls when Tristen Carranza crushed a ball that soared over the left field wall for a two-run home run. Logan Ehnes then got on with a double to the gap in right and Eric Mingus brought him home with an RBI single through the right side to knot the game up at five runs apiece.

Each side then put up multiple runs in the sixth inning. This began when the Bears loaded the bases with two outs that allowed a single to center to bring home two runs. Another walk loaded the bases once more and a wild pitch brought in the runner from third as the Aggies once again trailed with the score at 8-5.

Just as NM State had done all game, the team responded with a multi-run frame of their own in the bottom of the sixth. The Aggies loaded the bases with no outs in the frame that allowed a walk to bring in the first run. This was followed by a pitching change but the reliever plunked the first batter he saw to score one more and leave the bags juiced. Ehnes followed up with an RBI base knock to right and then a throwing error to home on an infield grounder plated the final run to put the Aggies ahead 9-8, a lead the home team added to in the eighth.

NM State had one runner in scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Looking to add an insurance run, Kevin Jimenez did just that with a single through the left side to score one run and put the Aggies lead at 10-8 heading into the ninth.

This was where an exciting game became that and then some with a nail-biter in the final frame. Northern Colorado got on the board with a single into left that scored a runner and put the NM State advantage at just one run. A walk then loaded the bases with only one out, forcing the Crimson & White to go back to the bullpen. The freshman reliever, Chris Barraza, was put into the biggest moment of his young career but he came through forcing an infield grounder that was fielded by Gonzales as he stepped on second and threw to first for a game-ending double play to secure the Aggies 10-9 win over the Bears.

After a thrilling series opener, reliever Andrew Edwards picked up his first win of the season on the mound and Barraza earned the first save of his NM State career. At the plate, the Aggies outhit the Bears 15-8, led by Gonzales who went 2-for-3 with an RBI, Ortiz who added a pair of hits, including one home run, with two runs scored and Carranza who added a home run and three RBI.

The New Mexico State baseball team now gets set for a crucial game two matchup against Northern Colorado on Saturday, April 13, at 2:05 p.m. MT on Presley Askew Field.