Aggie Baseball Faces GCU in Three-Game WAC-Road Series, Friday through Sunday
Courtesy: New Mexico State University  
Release:  04/23/2014

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State baseball team faces Grand Canyon University in a three-game Western Athletic Conference series in Phoenix, Ariz. starting Friday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m (MT).  The second game of the series is Saturday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. and the finale is scheduled for Sunday, April 27 at 1:30 p.m.   All three games are set to air over the radio waves on KSNM AM 570 and can also be heard from anywhere around the world on the Internet at www.NMStateSports.com

About the Aggies

NM State heads into the three game series versus Grand Canyon with a 16-20 overall record and a 7-5 WAC record.  The Aggies have won six out of the last eight games picking up conference wins over Northern Colorado and Seattle U. NM State is hitting .313 as a team during the past eight games with Michael Paulson posting a .467 (14-of-30) batting average during that time and Michael Medina hitting .452 (14-of-31).

The Aggies are hitting .273 on the season with three NM State offensive players hitting above .300 (Dereck Umphres, Kristoffer Koerper, Michael Medina).  NM State is hitting .277 in WAC play while sitting in a tie for third with Seattle U and North Dakota.  Medina has been stellar in WAC play posting a .400 batting average with a double, two triples and nine RBIs to go along with eight walks. He has also reached base five times by being hit by a pitch during WAC play.

Looking Back

NM State took on Seattle U in a four game series on April 17-19 at the Presley Askew Field. The Aggies wed 3-1 on the weekend winning the first game against the Redhawks on April 17 with a 7-4 final score. The second day of the series, the Aggies played a doubleheader losing their first competition 3-9 but coming back during the second game to win 6-5. NM State ended their weekend on a good note beating the Redhawks 5-3 on Saturday, April 19.

The Aggies posted a .254 batting average against Seattle U while Michael Medina led the way hitting .462 versus the Redhawks. Left-hand pitcher Christopher Bradley had a great outing versus Seattle U striking out seven batters in 6.2 innings of work and right-hand pitcher Billy Conard got six K’s in 6.0 innings on the mound. Each pitcher earned a win against the Redhawks.

Aggies in the WAC

NM State is at 7-5 in Western Athletic Conference. The Aggies currently sit in a tie for third place in the league standings and are batting .277 in league play. In WAC games only, the Aggies are first in on base percentage averaging a .382 and second with a .369 slugging percentage. Offensively, NM State ranks first in the league for runs scored (221) and runs batted in (200). On the mound, the Aggies are eighth for earned runs allowed (186) and ERA (5.41).

Individually, outfielder Michael Medina and third baseman Kristoffer Koerper place in the top 10 in a majority of the offensive categories for WAC only play. Koerper ranks in the top 10 in batting average (.328), slugging percentage (.473) and runs batted in (30). Medina is seen on the board with his .453 batting average and 32 runs scored. Pitching wise, Riley Barr leads the team in WAC play with his 2.45 ERA. Christopher Bradley is third against WAC opponents with 7.99 strikeouts per game.

Aggies in the Nation

NM State is ranked in the top 50 with its .382 on base percentage (36th) and 43rd in scoring (6.1/game). The team is 13th in the nation for double plays per game averaging 1.08 per game. Individually, Michael Paulson is 35th in the nation with 29 bases on balls averaging .81 per game which places him 22nd in the nation for base on balls per game. Outfielder Michael Medina places in the top 100 of 250 ranked with his .453 on base percentage. Closer Trey Gonzales places in the top 75 with six saves on the season.

Aggies on the Road

NM State is sitting at a 6-10 away record on the season with seven of those games being during WAC play leaving their away WAC record at 5-2. The team totals 153 hits on the season and 82 RBIs during their time on the road. The Aggies average a .273 batting average led by Derek Umphres batting a .365 average in 16 games. Umphres 23-of-63 during away games. Riley Barr leads the board for NM State with a 2.84 earned run average and 16 strikeouts on the season. Combined, the team pitches a 5.83 ERA and holds their opponents to a .306 batting average while on the road.

NM State Multiple Hits and Multiple RBIs

NM State has a total of 12 players who have had multiple hits in at least one game this season. Derek Umphres is the leader for the Aggies with 14 total games with multiple hits and 10 games where he has had two hits. Kristoffer Koerper leads the team with six games with three hits. Umphres, Paulson and Koerper are the only Aggies to have a game where they had four hits in a single game. Michael Medina currently holds the longest hitting streak on the season with eight. Medina has a chance to extend that hitting streak to nine in their next matchup against Grand Canyon. Kristoffer Koerper is tied with his brother Joseph Koerper as the two lead NM State with streaks of 14 reached bases on the season. With nine total games of multiple RBI, five games with three RBI and one game where he actually had five RBI, Kristoffer Koerper leads NM State in each category.

Players to Watch

Outfielder – Michael Medina

Senior outfielder Michael Medina started in four games against Seattle U last week hitting .462 (6-of-13) as the Aggies won 3-of-4 games.  Medina reached base a total of 12 times as he also picked up five walks and was hit once while scoring six runs and posting three RBIs.  He started the series going 2-of-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs in a 7-4 win over the Redhawks.  Medina finished the series going 2-of-3 once again with a walk, a run and an RBI.  He now has a team-high 32 runs scored (3rd in WAC) on the year and a team-high 27 walks (2nd in WAC).

RHP – Zach Freeman

Sophomore right-hand pitcher Zach Freeman made two appearances against Seattle U last week and picked up a win.  He finished the week working 3.2 innings, striking out two batters while allowing only two walks, three hits and no runs.  Freeman got the win in a 5-3 win over Seattle U, Saturday, April 19 after coming in for his 14th appearance of the year.  He is now 3-2 on the season working 27.0 innings and striking out 25 batters.

RHP – Riley Barr

With a team best ERA of 2.45, Barr has a 4-1 record this season for the Aggies.  In two starts and 16 appearances on the mound for NM State, Barr has pitched 40.1 innings.  Giving up 48 hits for 11 earned runs, Barr has struck out 25 hitters and allowed only five extra base hits with no home runs.  He also has walked a team low 12 batters.

Sitting at fourth in the league for all games played in ERA, Barr is also tied for seventh in wins, sixth in hits allowed, second in earned runs allowed and in walks allowed, as well as first in homers and triples allowed per game.  He is currently third in WAC play for ERA (1.37), third for earned runs allowed (3) and third in earned runs allowed per game (1.37).

Barr had his best outing against Northern Colorado April 5, in a 7-4 win, where he had an ERA of 2.60 in a season high 7.1 innings of work.  Throwing 107 pitches, he allowed only 12 hits for two runs allowed while striking out a season high eight batters.

LHP – Christopher Bradley

Pitcher Christopher Bradley has started 10 of the 36 games the Aggies have seen this season. He records a 3-4 season record and throws a 4.09 earned run average. Credited with 50.2 innings pitched, Bradley has had 45 strikeouts placing him in the top 10 against WAC opponents (7th). He averages 7.99 strikeouts per game and holds his opponents to a .272 batting average.

Infielder – Kent Blackstone

Sophomore Kent Blackstone plays infield for the NM State Aggies. Blackstone is hitting .226 on the year with 26 hits and 22 runs scored.  Blackstone has played 36 games, starting 34 on the season hitting in the No. 2 spot 21 times.  Blackstone has183 assists and 117 put-outs on his career. At the plate Blackstone has 259 at bats, 30 RBI, three homeruns and 86 total bases as career highs.

Blackstone was two for two against SIU- Edwardsville on Feb 22, with three runs and a RBI in a game the Aggies won 12-2. On March 1, against Oakland, Blackstone had eight at bats, three runs, six hits and three RBI during the doubleheader.  Blackstone ranks in the top 10 individually in the WAC, sixth for six sac bunts and fielding double plays. Blackstone ranks seventh with 0.25 stolen bases per game, also has the top fielding percentage in the league with 1.000.

Outfielder – Michael Paulson

With a .325 batting average, Paulson has started in all 36 games for the Aggies.  Recording 40 hits on the season, he has scored 27 runs, 24 RBIs, eight extra base hits and a slugging percentage of .398.  Paulson also leads the team in walks, with 29.  Paulson’s 29 walks leads the league in all games played.

Paulson had his best outing against Northern Colorado (April 4) where in five at bats he recorded four hits for three RBIs.  He also hit two doubles in the game and scored two times.  Against Air Force (April 8), Paulson recorded three RBIs on two hits and recorded a .321 batting average.

With only two errors on the season, Paulson has a fielding percentage of .964, recording 53 put outs.

Paulson has had seven multiple RBI games and 13 multiple hit games.  He is currently on a six game hitting streak, with the streak starting against Northern Colorado on April 8 and continuing through the Aggies last game against Seattle U on April 19.  Paulson has reached base in his last ten games, starting with Sacramento State March 30.  His longest base reaching streak of the season is 12.

RHP - Billy Conard

Conard has a 2-3 record this season for the Aggies, having started eight games and making 11 appearances.  In 41.2 innings of work Conard has recorded a 5.83 ERA, allowing 27 earned runs and 19 walks while striking out 33 batters. 

Conard had a season high eight strikeouts from the mound against Seattle U (April 18) in a 9-3 loss for the Aggies.  Conard has recorded three or more strikeouts in seven games, with his best outing to date coming in the season opener against Saint Mary’s (Feb 14) in a 4-2 win for the Aggies.  In that game Conard threw five strikeouts in 4 innings of work, allowing only three hits and one walk for no runs allowed. 

Outfielder – Kyle Young

Outfielder Kyle Young is batting a .224 average and slugging at .299 percent for the Aggies during the 2014 season thus far. Young has seen the plate 67 times recording 15 total hits with 12 runs batted in. He is seen batting in the No. 7 spot for NM State and has gotten a hit during five consecutive games which is the fifth longest streak for the Aggies. Young added one homerun to the Aggies season against Saint Mary’s in the four game series on Feb 14-16 making his only homerun of the season.

LHP – Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft has appeared in 13 games for NM State this season, and started in nine of those contests. Kraft has pitched a total of 44 innings so far on the season, highlighted by a season high 7.1 innings pitched against UC Davis on March 15. His 44 innings pitched, ranks second on the team behind Christopher Bradley who has pitched 50 innings. In the same game versus UC Davis, Kraft also recorded season-highs in putouts with two, and assists with six. Kraft has pitched in four or more innings, six times this year. In a game versus Oakland on March 1, Kraft pitched a season-high seven strikeouts.

Infielder – Derek Umphres

With a team leading .331 batting average and .477 slugging percentage, Umphres continues to lead the Aggies from the plate.  Starting in all but one of the 36 games this season, Umphres has recorded a team-high 43 hits and 25 RBIs in 130 at bats.  Umphres has three home runs on the season, as well as a team high eight doubles and one triple.

With a team high 14 multiple hit games Umphres also has six multiple RBI games.  Umphres best outing game against Northern Colorado (April 4) where he recorded four hits in five at bats, driving in two runs and scoring three himself.

Umphres is ranked ninth in batting average in the league for all games and eight in slugging percentage.  Umphres is also ranked ninth in RBIs and seventh in runs scored, as well as seventh in total bases.

RHP – Zach Freeman

Right-handed pitcher Zach Freeman has made 14 appearances during the Aggies 2014 season with a 3-2 record. With a total of 27.0 innings pitched, Freeman has struck out 25 total batters holding his opponents to a .292 batting average.

LHP – Trey Higginbotham

Junior left-handed pitcher Trey Higginbotham has appeared 11 times for the NM State Aggies this season. Higginbotham has pitched 10 innings, struck out nine players and only allowing 10 on the season. Starting against Saint Mary’s on Feb. 16, Higginbotham pitched 2.1 innings, struck out two batters and only gave up two hits, the Aggies lost 8-3.

Designated hitter/outfielder – Joseph Koerper

Joseph Koerper has been a key contributor for NM State in his sophomore season. So far, Koerper has appeared in 24 games this season and started in 22 of those games. This season he has a .289 batting average, 14 runs, 22 hits and eight RBI. One of Koerper’s better games came in a matchup against Texas Tech on March 9, when he set single game season-highs in hits with three, RBI with two and doubles with one. Koerper, later matched his season-high of two RBI in a game versus in-state rival, New Mexico, on March 25, and hit his lone home run of the season while also setting a season-high with five bases. Koerper is tied with teammate and older brother, Kristoffer Koerper, for the longest reached base streak of the season with 14.

Looking Ahead

The Aggies take a break from WAC play facing the Arizona State Sun Devils on Tuesday, April 29. The Sun Devils currently sit at a 21-16 overall record going 10-8 in Pac-12 conference play. The team is led by Nathaniel Causey with his .353 batting average in 34 games played for Arizona State. Causey has contributed 42 hits to the season, 15 RBI and has a .487 slugging percentage. On the mound, Brett Lilek adds 52 strikeouts to Arizona’s season. He records a 1.98 ERA with a 3-2 record. Lilek holds his opponents to a .182 batting average.

NM State travels back home to face WAC opponents Utah Valley on May 2-4 in a three game series. The Wolverines have a 15-22 record going 8-7 in WAC play. The team is led by Sean Moysh in batting average (.285) out of the 33 games played. He adds a .423 slugging percentage with 18 RBI on the season. Pitching wise, David Beddes leads with a 3.49 ERA recording a 3-3 record. He totals 20 strikeouts on the season and holds his opponents to a .267 batting average. The team totals a 5.19 ERA with 361 hits on the season.

Each game against Utah Valley is scheduled to air over the radio waves on KSNM AM 570 with Jeff Matthews giving the play-by-play.

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.

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