LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State baseball team started off the 2014 campaign by defeating St. Mary’s (Calif.), 4-2, Friday night during the opener of a four-game series at Presley Askew Field.
The Aggies would only manage three hits on the night, with no NM State player collecting more than one hit, while the Gaels marked eight hits. But a couple of costly St. Mary’s errors and a timely hit by Aggie senior transfer Kris Koerper gave NM State the victory.
Junior right-hander Riley Barr picked up the win for the Aggies after only facing one batter in the fourth inning. Senior Chris Bradley started the game for NM State, pitching 4.2 innings while allowing two runs on four hits and striking out five, and right-hander Billy Conard pitched the final four innings for the Aggies, only allowing three hits.
The Gaels jumped in front early as they manufactured a run on a single, stolen base, wild pitch and sacrifice fly during the first inning. St. Mary’s would add another run off Bradley in the top of the fifth to take a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom half of the frame. Bradley would be pulled after allowing the second run.
NM State would have its first big inning of the season during the bottom half of the fifth inning. The Aggies batted around while scoring four runs, three of which were unearned after St. Mary’s committed an error before any outs were marked.
Senior second baseman Jory Goldstrom had an RBI single early in the inning, but the big hit came from Koerper. The Las Cruces native got his first big hit as an Aggie after hitting a shot over the Gaels’ left fielder Nate Nolan’s extended glove with the bases loaded. All three runs came in to score off of Koerper’s stand-up double. NM State led 4-2 after five innings.
The Aggies would continue to hold their lead over the next couple of innings. A major threat by St. Mary’s, however, would come in the top half of the eighth inning.
After a single, an error and an intentional walk by Conard, NM State faced a bases loaded, nobody out dilemma. Conard, who had committed the error on an errant throw to first, made up for his mistake, first by striking out Gaels’ designated hitter Nikko Saenz, and then by starting a 1-2-3 double play on a roller to the pitcher’s mound to end the inning without a single run scored.
Conard took command in the final frame, striking out the first two batters en route to collecting five total strikeouts.
The Aggies and Gaels continue their four-game series with a doubleheader on Saturday at Presley Askew Field. Game one is scheduled for a 1:05 p.m. (MT) start with the second game beginning approximately 20-30 minutes after the first game. The series finale will be on Sunday with gametime set for 12:05 p.m.
Saturday’s second game along with Sunday’s game are scheduled to be aired live on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces with Jeff Mathews on the microphone.