LAS CRUCES, N.M – For the third-consecutive week the New Mexico State baseball team will play a non-conference game during the week before continuing its Western Athletic Conference schedule on the weekend.
The Aggies, who are 13-18 overall and 5-4 in WAC play after a three-game conference sweep of Northern Colorado, meet the Air Force Academy on Tuesday, April 8, in Colorado Springs, Colo., before heading to Grand Forks, N.D., for a four-game WAC series against North Dakota from Friday through Sunday, April 11-13. The final game of the series versus North Dakota will not count as a conference game.
NM State is coming off its first series sweep of the season. It took a ninth-inning rally during the series finale against Northern Colorado to complete the sweep as the Aggies trailed 9-8 heading into the final frame before marking four runs in the final inning.
Tuesday’s game versus Air Force is scheduled for 3 p.m. (MDT) start at Falcon Field. The Falcons go into the game with a 6-24 overall record and a 2-13 record in Mountain West Conference play. Air Force is coming off three road losses at the hands of San Diego State. The matchup against NM State will only be the eighth home game for the Falcons this season, as they hold a 3-4 record at Falcon Field.
The Aggies and North Dakota begin their WAC series on Friday at Kraft Memorial Field with a matchup beginning at 1 p.m. (MDT). Friday’s game will be the first at Kraft Field for UND as its first home series of the season, versus Northern Colorado, was moved to nearby Bismarck, N.D. Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 12 p.m. start while a Sunday doubleheader will conclude the series. The first game on Sunday is also scheduled for a 12 p.m. start while the nonconference series finale will be played 30 minutes after game one at approximately 3 p.m.
UND currently sits at 6-15 overall and, like NM State, swept Northern Colorado during its most recent WAC series to improve to 6-3 in conference play. North Dakota, however, was swept during a three-game series at Creighton last weekend.
Umphres Name WAC Hitter of the Week
Third baseman Derek Umphres has been named the Western Athletic Conference Baseball Hitter of the Week for the week of March 31-April 6. This is his first player of the week honor for Umphres.
Umphres, a sophomore from Safford, Ariz. (Safford HS), hit .500 (8-for-16), striking out only one time in four games last week. The Aggies went 3-1 on the week, while sweeping WAC opponent Northern Colorado and falling to in-state rival New Mexico.
Umphres picked up seven singles and a home run while finishing the week with nine RBI and a .688 slugging percentage. Umphres also tallied two walks and two sacrifice flies while not allowing a single error on defense. He did what he could in a loss to the Lobos on April 2 as he was 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI. In a series-opening win over Northern Colorado, Umphres went 4-for-5 with two RBI and three runs scored. He is currently hitting a team-high .345 on the year with 39 hits and 24 RBI.
Aggie in the WAC
NM State has an overall record of 13-18 and a 5-4 conference record, which puts it at fifth place in the Western Athletic Conference standings. After beating Texas-Pan American on the road on March 23, the Aggies went on a five game slide with two losses coming from in-state rival, New Mexico, and three losses against Sacramento State. However, the Aggies responded admirably with a three game winning streak with three wins over Northern Colorado.
NM State leads the WAC in five offensive categories including on base percentage (.383), runs scored (194), RBI (175), walks (163) and sacrificed flies (15). They also place second in multiple offensive categories as well including slugging percentage (.377), hits (285), total bases (392) and total plate appearances (1263). The Aggies have also made an impact defensively, leading the WAC with 196 batters struck out while also earning seven saves, which is good for second place in the conference.
Individually, there are multiple Aggies who are among the leaders in the WAC statistically. Kristoffer Koerper leads the WAC with 28 RBI and is second in hits with 41 on the season. Michael Paulson leads the conference with 27 walks while Michael Medina leads the conference with 11 hits by pitch.
Series History versus Air Force Academy
The Aggies and Falcons have met 18 times in program history with NM State holding a 12-6 series lead. The two teams first met in 1988 in the Askew Invitational in Las Cruces. The two teams split their two games. 16 of the 18 games have been played in Las Cruces, as NM State holds an 11-5 record at home and a 1-1 record at the Air Force Academy.
The last time the Aggies played the Falcons in Colorado Springs was back in the 1994 season, as NM State won 8-4 and lost 13-12. The last time these two teams met was in 2004. The Aggies sweep the three-game series in Las Cruces.
Scouting Air Force
Currently, Air Force is riding a three-game losing streak, dropping three games to San Diego State this past weekend. The Falcons are 6-24 overall this season and 2-13 in Mountain West play.
Over the last 10 games, Air Force is 2-8 overall, with wins coming against Northern Colorado and New Mexico. As a team, the Falcons are hitting .224 with 216 runs on 100 hits, with a slugging percentage of .296. The pitching staff has a combined 6.02 ERA, recording 209 strikeouts and 207 runs allowed.
Tyler Jones leads the team with a .297 batting average, recording a team-leading 30 hits and 14 RBI. He also leads the team with 13 doubles.
Steven Trojan leads the Falcons’ starting pitching staff with a 4.50 ERA, pitching 46.0 innings, allowing 26 runs on 40 hits, while striking out 41 batters. Nathan Stanford has a team-low 3.54.
Series History versus North Dakota
NM State and North Dakota have met just once back in 2009, as the Aggies opened the season with a three-game sweep. The Aggies’ margin of victory during that series was just over 10 runs per game. This will be the first meeting between the two schools as conference opponents.
Scouting North Dakota
North Dakota is currently 6-15 on the season with all six wins coming in WAC play. In the WAC North Dakota is tied for second at 6-3. Over the last 10 games, North Dakota is 4-6, dropping three straight to Creighton this past weekend.
As a team, North Dakota is hitting .250 as a team with 82 runs scored on 175 hits. Four players currently have double digit RBI totals, while the team has a .326 slugging percentage.
Ryan Reese is the lobe North Dakota player hitting over .300. He has a team-leading 24 hits, scoring six runs and collecting 10 RBI.
As a pitching staff, North Dakota has a combined 5.21 ERA and is led by Chris Knoll who has pitched 5.1 innings, struck out three batters and allowed just one run.
Aggies on the Road
The Aggies are currently 6-9 on the road, but 5-1 against conference opponents away from home. With series against No. 30 Texas Tech, UC Davis, Texas-Pan American and Northern Colorado, the Aggies have faced some stiff competition.
The Aggies fell 4-0 to Texas Tech in a four game series, starting March 6 and ending March 9. The Aggies managed to take the Red Raiders into extra innings in one game, finally losing 8-7 in 12. The following away series against UC Davis (March 14-Mar. 16), NM State fared slightly better winning the first game of the series 6-4, but losing the next three a combined score of 15-6. The Aggies took the next away series against Texas-Pan American (March 21-23), winning two out of three. The Aggies fell to Texas-Pan American the first game 9-4, but came back and took the next two games a combined 10-6. After a tough single game against New Mexico (April 2) where the Aggies fell to the Lobos 17-7, the Aggies continued the road trip to Northern Colorado, sweeping the Bears in three games April 4-6.
Derek Umphres is leading the Aggies at the plate on the road, batting a .356 average in 59 at bats, recording 21 hits, 15 RBIs and one home run, for a slugging percentage of .441. Joseph Koerper and Michael Paulson are also swinging the bat well for NM State with Koerper hitting .356 in 45 at bats and Paulson hitting a .340 in 47 at bats. Both players have recorded 16 hits and six RBIs, with Koerper having a .400 slugging percentage and Paulson a .404.
From the mound, Riley Barr is leading the Aggies on the road, going 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA. In 24 innings pitched, Barr has given up 26 hits, eight earned runs and thrown for 14 strikeouts. Christopher Bradley has also been throwing well for NM State, with a 2-2 road record in five starts. In 23.1 innings pitched, Bradley has given up 25 hits and 11 earned runs while recording a team high 19 strike outs. Billy Conard has also thrown 14 strikeouts in 18 innings pitched for the Aggies.
NM State in the Last Five Games
The Aggies are 3-2 over their last five games, sweeping Northern Colorado. The three-game win streak is the longest for the Aggies since late February and snapped a five game losing skid. As a team, the Aggies are hitting .337 with 60 runs on 48 hits, 46 RBI and four homeruns. NM State has a .478 slugging percentage and a .443 on-base percentage. The Aggie pitching staff has an ERA of 7.24 over the last five, allowing 54 runs on 62 hits, while striking out 30 batters.
Derek Umphres leads the Aggies over the last five games, hitting a team-leading .526 with 10 hits, scoring 10 runs and a team-high 11 RBI and 16 total bases. Kyle Young in hitting .467 at the plate as well. Six Aggies are batting over .300 over the last five.
Riley Barr leads the charge for the pitchers with a 2.16 ERA, making two appearances and one start. In 8.1 innings of action, Barr has allowed two runs on 12 hits, striking out eight batters.
NM State Last 10 Games
Of the last 10 games the Aggies have played, eight were conference games. Junior Kyle Young, who is playing outfield for NM State, has a .412 batting average, 17 at bats, seven hits with five RBI during this time. Young has a .529 slugging percentage during the last 10 games. Alongside Young is Michael Paulson. Paulson a junior, playing outfield has a .342 batting average, seeing 38 at bats, eight runs and 13 hits in the last 10 games.
Derek Umphres has posted 12 RBI, a .333 batting average and has scored 11 runs in the last 10 games. The sophomore, Umphres playing infield is listed for the Aggies, on their top slugging percentage, runs scored, runs batted in, home runs, total bases and sacrificed flies.
Junior Riley Barr is a right-handed pitcher that has pitched 15.2 innings and an era of 1.15. Barr has only given up two hits and struck out 10 batters, while going 2-0 over the last 10 games.
The Aggies completed a four game week with a record of (3-1). The first game came against in-state rival New Mexico where the Aggies lost by a score of 7-17. The next match was the first game of a three game road series against Northern Colorado where NM State grabbed a victory in dominating fashion by a score of 16-4. The Aggies also won the next two games over Northern Colorado decisively by scores of 7-4 and 12-9 respectively.
NM State enjoyed a couple of big time performances from Derek Umphres, Michael Medina and Kristoffer Koerper. Umphres led the Aggies with eight runs, eight hits and nine RBI over the four game week. He also had the second highest slugging percentage with .688 percent. Medina was second on the team with seven hits and seven runs while Koerper placed second on the squad with seven RBI. Pitcher Riley Barr also performed well over the four game stretch. Barr pitched eight innings, which was the most of any pitcher for NM State, and led the team with eight strikeouts.
Players to Watch
First baseman - Kristoffer Koerper
Las Cruces native and senior first baseman Kristoffer Koerper has been showing off his skills at the plate. Koerper leads NM State with 41 hits, while knocking in 28 RBI thus far, and is currently number two on the Aggies roster with a .336 batting average.
Koerper has started in all 31 games this season for NM State and leads the team in plate appearances with 122. He is second on the Aggies with a .484 slugging percentage, while recording a team high seven doubles.
With WAC play in full swing, Koerper currently leads the conference in RBI with 28 thus far and is in the number two spot in WAC play with 41 hits. He is in the top 10 in the WAC for batting average (.336), on base percentage (.421), and home runs (3).
In the last 10 games, Koerper has tallied 12 hits and brought around nine RBI, while scoring nine runs of his own. Koerper was also able to record one double and one triple during the last 10 games.
Closer – Trey Gonzales
Right-handed pitcher Trey Gonzales has made 11 appearances during the 2014 NM State season. As a closer for the Aggies, Gonzales has pitched a total of 15.2 innings, recording five saves on the season. Gonzales holds his opponents at a .281 batting average allowing only 16 hits during his time on the mound moving him to a 4.02 earned run average.
Outfielder – Michael Paulson
Paulson is hitting a .314 average in 105 at bats, recording 33 hits, 16 RBIs and 38 total bases, also scoring 23 runs. With a .362 slugging percentage Paulson has hit for extra bases five times, all of which have been doubles. Paulson leads the team in walks with 27 bases for balls and is a perfect 2-2 for stolen bases on the season.
Paulson had his best game of the season so far at Northern Colorado (April 4) where the Aggies won 16-4. Paulson had a season high four hits, driving in three runs and hitting two doubles. Paulson scored his season high of three runs on April 6, in the same series against the Bears. Paulson has had 11 multi-hit games this season and four multi-RBI games. Paulson has played in all 31 games for the Aggies, starting in all 31.