LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State baseball team got a terrific start from staff ace Chris Bradley, but could not hold on as Utah Valley marked all of its runs during the final three innings of Friday’s contest to win the series opener at Presley Askew Field, 8-1.
The Aggies fall to 17-24 overall and move to .500 at 8-8 in Western Athletic Conference play while the Wolverines improve to 20-23 overall and 12-7 in conference play.
Bradley struck out a career-high 10 batters while only allowing two hits in over six innings pitched, but was handed a no decision after allowing a lone run that tied the game in the seventh inning.
NM State was outhit 9-7 by the Wolverines. Senior center fielder Michael Medina and sophomore catcher Kevin Carswell each had a couple of singles on the night for the Aggies as all of NM State’s seven hits were singles.
The Aggies struck first with a run in the opening frame. Medina led off the game for NM State with a single to right field. Right fielder Michael Paulson followed with a hit-and-run single that advanced Medina to third. After a strikeout, first baseman Kris Koerper brought in Medina with an RBI fielder’s choice. Unfortunately, it would be the only run of the night for NM State.
Bradley, meanwhile, was dealing on the mound through the first five innings. The Aggie left-hander struck out the side in the second, had two strikeouts in the third and struck out the side once again in the fifth. Bradley had his 10 strikeouts midway through the game. He also had a no-hitter through five innings.
Bradley allowed his first two hits of the evening in the top half of the sixth and after a walk to designated hitter Mark Krueger, the Wolverines had the bases loaded with two outs. But a flyout to right field ended the Utah Valley threat and kept the game at 1-0 after six innings.
Unfortunately for NM State, the Wolverines would threaten again in the seventh and this time Utah Valley would score to tie the game and take Bradley out of the game. Bradley began the inning by walking Utah Valley second baseman Greyson Bodgen. After a sacrifice bunt moved Bodgen to second, Bradley intentionally walked pinch hitter Craig Brinkerhoff before being pulled for Aggie reliever Riley Barr.
After a fly-out to right field for the second out, Barr allowed an RBI single that tied the game at one. The run was charged to Bradley thus giving the Aggie starter a no decision even though he only allowed two hits in 6.1 innings pitched.
NM State had a chance to regain the lead in bottom half of the seventh after back-to-back singles by second baseman Chad Ramsey and shortstop Matt Evans put two runners on base, but a groundout double-play ball by Carswell ended the Aggie threat.
The Wolverines quickly pounced on their momentum, scoring three runs in the top of the eighth off of two home runs to take a their first lead of the contest at 4-1. Krueger hit the first long ball off of Barr, a two-run shot, and third baseman Beau Kallas followed with a solo shot later in the inning. Barr would be saddled with the loss to fall to 5-2.
Utah Valley would double its run production with another four runs in the final frame to take an 8-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. The Aggies would go down in order in the ninth thus giving the Wolverines the seven-run win and Utah Valley starter Danny Beddes a complete game victory to improve to 4-3. Beddes matched Bradley with 10 strikeouts.
The series continues Saturday with game two of the three-game set at Presley Askew Field. Game time for Saturday is 6:05 p.m. (MDT) with NM State celebrating Cinco de Mayo night. The game will be broadcast live over the Las Cruces radio airwaves with Jeff Mathews on the call.