LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State baseball team could not complete a four-game sweep of St. Mary’s (Calif.) on Sunday, falling to the Gaels 8-3 at Presley Askew Field. The game was called after eight innings of play due to travel-time constraints for St. Mary’s. The Aggies were handed their first loss of the season and now sit at 3-1 after winning the first three games of the series.
NM State and the Gaels each scored a run in the first inning. St. Mary’s run would be unearned as the Aggies committed the first of what would be three errors throughout the game. NM State’s run came off an RBI double from senior first baseman Kris Koerper who has come out red-hot at the plate to start off the season. Koerper collected a total of eight RBIs throughout the weekend to lead the Aggies.
After not allowing a run in the second, NM State starter Trey Higgenbotham would lose his pitch control in the third inning. Higginbotham hit the first batter he faced in the inning and later walked four-consecutive batters before being pulled by head coach Rocky Ward.
Higginbotham would allow a total of four runs in less than three innings of work and would be saddled with his first loss of the season. The Aggie pitching staff would struggle with their control all day as NM State allowed a total of nine walks while only striking out four batters.
The Aggie offense, meanwhile, could only muster up one run in the fifth and one in the bottom of the seventh. By that time, the Gaels had already marked six runs of their own. The lone run in the seventh for NM State made it 6-3 St. Mary’s heading to the eighth inning.
The Aggies did have their chances throughout the game. Koerper came up in the bottom of the second with the bases loaded and only one out. It seemed the perfect opportunity for NM State’s hottest hitter to add to his RBI total. It wasn’t meant to be, however, as Koerper popped up to second base. Catcher Taylor Noyer then followed him with another infield pop fly, this time to third base, to end the Aggie threat.
NM State also had two runners on base with two outs during the third inning but could not bring a run in. Although the Aggies scored a run in the seventh, they once again left the bases loaded after another Noyer pop-up. In all, NM State left a total of 16 runners on the bags.
The Gaels added a couple more runs in the top half of the eighth and ended the game after St. Mary’s pitcher Anthony Gonsolin struck out the side in the bottom half of the inning.
The game was stopped after eight innings because of a 3 ½ hour time limit on the game due to St. Mary’s having to catch their flight home.
Even with the loss, it was an impressive start to the NM State baseball season as the Aggies won their opening series of the season. Koerper, along with junior outfielder Michael Paulson and third baseman Derek Umphres, all had six hits throughout the weekend. They also all finished hitting above .400, Koerper and Paulson at .462 and Umphres at .429.
Redshirt sophomore Ryan Wagner, who was added to the starting lineup after the first game of the series due to an injury to sophomore Joe Koerper, finished the weekend hitting .364 with a couple of home runs and was right behind Kris Koerper with seven total RBIs.
The Aggies will now host their second series of the month to open up the 2014 campaign. NM State welcomes Southern Illinois University (SIU)-Edwardsville to Presley Askew Field for a four-game series beginning Friday, Feb. 21, at 6:05 p.m. (MT). The series will also feature a doubleheader on Saturday and the finale on Sunday afternoon.