Scaperotta's Slam Powers Aggie Baseball Team To Opening Day Victory

Written by: Teddy Feinberg/Sun-News Sports Editor

Also See: Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 02/20/08

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Coming into the season, many were aware that the New Mexico State Aggies would lean heavily on Joe Scaperotta. On Friday afternoon, the senior centerfielder didn't disappoint.

Scaperotta's grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning catapulted NMSU to a 12-11 win over the University of New Orleans, giving the Aggies a victory on opening day of the 2008 baseball season.

Scaperotta came to the plate with the bases loaded, nobody out and with New Orleans nursing an 11-8 lead. He took left-hander Matt Brown deep to the opposite field on a 3-1 fastball, putting NMSU up a run.

Tyler Sturdevant pitched the final four innings to pick up the win for the Aggies.

"Bases loaded, a 3-1 count, I was hoping he'd throw me a fastball and he did," Scaperotta said. "I got the bat on it and hit it well."

It was a good way to start the season for NMSU, a team looking to rebound from a 22-34 record a season ago.

"The bottom line is, we got a win on opening day," Scaperotta said. "Last year, we lost a close one in our opener. Getting a win, in front of our home crowd, I can't lie, it felt great."

NMSU coach Rocky Ward said it was an up-and-down day at the plate for Scaperotta but that the senior relied on his experience. Last year,
he led the Aggies in homers (10), RBIs (59) and batting average (.341).

"His first three at-bats, he looked terrible," Ward said. "He swung at three or four balls in the dirt and when he came to the plate in a key situation, he wasn't doing to well. But that's the advantage of being in those situations before. He knew what to do."

The middle of the order supplied the power for the Aggies. Marcus Quade, Scaperotta, Christopher Auten and Colin Couthamel combined to go 8-for-19 with 12 runs batted in. Auten and Couthamel, two newcommers to the roster, both went deep as well, with Couthamel finishing the day 3-for-4 with two homers, four RBIs and three runs scored.

The offensive output made up for a sloppy fielding performance by the Aggies. Five NMSU errors allowed the Privateers to jump out to a 9-7 lead following a seven-run fifth inning for New Orleans.

NMSU starter Sebastien Vendette gave up eight runs, two of them earned, in 4 1/3 innings of work.

"Hopefully, not many of our games are like that this year," Ward said. "You don't make five errors in a game and win very often. We showed our potential weaknesses but we also showed our potential strengths. That was a dominant offensive performance."

NMSU gets off to a 1-0 start on the season while New Orleans is 0-1. The two teams will meet again at 2 p.m. today. Starting for the Aggies will be right-hander Heath Goin.

Teddy Feinberg can be reached at