NMSU Baseball Falls To Sacramento State 4-3 In Series Opener

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

SACRAMENTO, CA - The New Mexico State baseball team opened a pivotal three-game Western Athletic Conference series against Sacramento State on Friday night at John Smith Field. After carrying a lead into the ninth inning, the Aggies saw the Hornets clear the bases on a walk-off hit to right that handed the Crimson & White a 4-3 loss.

Both sides put their ace on the mound for the series opener with NM State (28-11, 11-5 WAC) sending preseason WAC Pitcher of the Year Brock Whittlesey to the bump to square off against Sacramento State (27-14, 13-3 WAC) wins leader Scott Randall. Each hurler tossed a scoreless first before the Aggies got on the board in the next frame.

In the top of the second, Tristan Peterson sent a single up the middle to get the team’s first runner on base. Kevin Jimenez then stayed disciplined in the next at-bat to draw a base on balls that moved Peterson into scoring position. This was exactly what the Crimson & White needed as Noah Haupt sent a grounder to the second baseman that could not be handled and bounced into right field, allowing the first run of the game to score that put NM State ahead 1-0.

This lead carried into the fourth with Whittlesey not even allowing a hit for the Hornets until the bottom half. Then even with a runner in scoring position, the Hornets remained scoreless when a ball looked to be sent to the outfield but Nick Gonzales leaped to knock it down before he flipped it to second for a force out and the throw to third turned the inning-ending double play.

Whittlesey then continued to cruise on the mound retiring the next nine batters he faced to hold the team’s one-run lead that was added to in the top of the eighth. The Aggies had runners on the corners when Joey Ortiz battled at the plate in an at-bat that ended with the junior sending a sacrifice fly to right that brought in a run and put NM State in front 2-0.

After tossing 7.2 scoreless frames, Whittlesey exited the game giving himself 14.2 scoreless innings in his last two starts this year and 17.1 scoreless frames in his last four outings against Sacramento State dating back to the 2018 WAC Tournament. Then in the bottom half of the eighth inning the Hornets threatened with runners on first and second and two outs. Reliever Aldo Fernandez settled down though and got the final batter to strike out swinging to hold the Aggies two-run lead.

In the top of the ninth, NM State was able to add to its lead. Back-to-back singles from Nick Gonzales and Tristen Carranza led off the frame before Jimenez knocked an RBI single into left field to give the Crimson & White a 3-0 advantage.

The shutout disappeared in the ninth when the Hornets bats got going at the plate. The first run for the opposition came off of an single to left to put the Aggies lead at 3-1. Then with the bases loaded and two outs, there was a full count, but the final pitch was sent to right field just inside the foul line and cleared the bases to hand NM State the 4-3 defeat.

New Mexico State’s baseball squad now looks to bounce back in the second game of the three-game conference series against Sacramento State on Saturday, April 27, at 7 p.m. MT.