MESA, Ariz. - The New Mexico State baseball team could not overcome six costly errors against Hawai'i in the first semifinal of the 2010 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Baseball Tournament as the Rainbows claimed a 13-7 win Thursday night at Hohokam Stadium.
Senior Nate Shaver led the Aggie offense with a season-high five hits including three singles, a double and a triple. Shaver also scored three runs for NM State. Junior Ryan Aguayo paced the Aggies with three RBI in the game.
With the loss, second-seeded NM State falls to 36-22-1 on the year. Fourth-seeded Hawai'i improves to 31-25 overall with the win and will play the winner of the second semifinal between sixth-seeded San Jose State and top-seeded Fresno State in the winners bracket final Friday evening.
As a result, the Aggies will play at noon MT against Nevada regardless of the outcome of Thursday's second semifinal. Even though sixth-seeded San Jose State would be the lowest seed should they lose, the Aggies will face the Wolf Pack because they received a first-round bye and the Spartans did not receive a bye. If the Bulldogs lose, the Aggies would play the early game because Fresno State is the higher seed.
Junior Dan Reid started on the mound for the Aggies while junior Sam Spangler made the start for the Rainbows.
Two Aggie errors in the top of the first led to the first run of the game by Hawai'i. Sophomore Kolten Wong started the game with a single through the right side. After a pop-up to second, Wong advanced to third after throwing errors by NM State second baseman Parker Hipp and catcher Jared Jordan. UH junior Jeffrey Van Doornum singled to left to score Wong and give the Rainbows and early 1-0 lead.
Shaver, the Aggie leadoff hitter, opened the bottom of the first with a single through the left side. Aguayo followed with another single between second and third. Later senior Ben Harty ripped a one-out, two-RBI double that rolled to the left field fence to score the base runners and give the Crimson and White a 2-1 lead after one.
Hawai'i responded in the top of the second with a pair of runs to take the lead. Sophomore Collin Bennett singled up the middle with one out. Junior Sean Montplaisir singled to right to put two runners on. After both runners advanced on a wild pitch, Rainbow senior Kevin Macdonald singled up the middle to score two and put UH back ahead at 3-2.
NM State tied the game in the bottom of the frame. Shaver hit a two-out double to right. Aguayo followed with a single to left. With a play at the plate, Shaver was ruled safe at home beating a tag by the Rainbow catcher. As a result, the teams entered the third tied at 3-3.
The Aggies chased Spangler after loading the bases in the bottom of the third. Junior right-hander Alex Capaul came on to get the final out of the inning.
In the top of the fourth UH recaptured the lead. Bennett singled to center. Macdonald followed with a single to first base with one out on the base. Hawai'i senior Matt Roquemore singled to right center to score Bennett. Wong lined a single to right center to score Macdonald and make it a 5-3 Rainbow lead as the runners advanced to scoring position on the throw.
As a result, NM State made a pitching change as junior right-hander Adam Heredia came on to pitch in relief of Reid. Van Doornum reached on a fielding error by Aguayo to score Roquemore and give UH a 6-3 advantage. UH junior David Freitas advanced to second on a fourth Aggie error as Wong scored to make it 7-3 Hawai'i.
Aggie senior right-hander DJ Simon came on to pitch for Heredia. A wild pitch by Simon scored Van Doornum and moved Freitas to third as UH went ahead 8-3. After a walk to junior Greg Garcia, Bennett doubled down the left field line to score Freitas to give the Rainbows a 9-3 advantage.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Aggies put another across as Shaver opened the frame with a stand-up triple to right center. Aguayo scored Shaver with a deep sacrifice fly to right field, to cut the Rainbow lead to five at 9-4 after four innings.
A fifth NM State error allowed UH to pad its lead in the top of the fifth. Wong hit a two-out single to right and later advanced to second on a balk. A hard hit down the left field line by Rainbow freshman Pi'ikea Kitamura was mishandled by Aggie third baseman Wade Reynoso and Wong scored from second to push the UH lead to 10-4.
The Aggies rallied in the bottom of the fifth. Jordan hit a one-out singled to left field. Hipp followed with a double to center. Junior Wesley Starkes ripped a single to center to score the Aggie base runners to cut the UH lead to four at 10-6. Pinch hitter Joel Cardinal took first after being hit by a pitch. Shaver continued his spectacular day with his fourth hit in as many at-bats, lining a single to right field to load the bases.
That spelled the end of Capaul's time on the mound as junior right-handed pitcher Zach Gallagher became the Rainbows' third pitcher of the day. Aguayo notched his second sacrifice fly of the game to score Starkes to make it 10-7 Hawai'i after five.
After two scoreless innings, Hawai'i increased its lead with a two-out rally in the top of the eighth. Freitas singled to left field after two Rainbows were retired. Garcia reached on catcher's interference, the sixth error of the game by NM State. Next up Bennett doubled to center field to score two and increase the UH lead to 12-7. Montplaisir followed with a single up the middle to score Bennett to yield the final score of 13-7.
The teams combined for 20 runs, 33 hits and 7 errors in the three-hour, 33-minute slugfest. Capaul improved to 6-2 on the year with the win and Gallagher earned his first save of the season. Reid dropped to 6-3 on the year.
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