LAS CRUCES, N.M. – After losing the first-three games this weekend, the New Mexico State baseball team avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of Oakland on Sunday afternoon by defeating the Golden Grizzlies, 17-2, at Presley Askew Field.
The game was stopped after the top half of the seventh inning because of the 10-run mercy rule. The Aggies improve to 7-5 on the season while Oakland falls to .500 at 4-4.
For the first time this weekend, NM State got a complete overall game, as the offense, defense and pitching all had a good showing.
The offense belted out 21 hits en route to the 17 runs while the defense only had one error on a tough throw to first. The pitching staff, meanwhile, only allowed six hits and one walk while striking out five Oakland batters in seven innings. Of the Golden Grizzlies’ two runs only one of them was earned.
Senior first baseman Kris Koerper, as has become habit, had another big day for the Aggies. The Las Cruces native went 4-for-5 on the day including a two-run double and three-run shot over the right-field wall that opened up the NM State scoring. Koerper scored two runs and marked a season-high five RBIs.
NM State’s 1-2 hitters went a combined 6-for-9 versus the Golden Grizzlies on Sunday as leadoff hitter Michael Medina went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs while second baseman Jory Goldstrom went 3-for-4 and touched home plate three times.
The Aggies got a great start from senior right-hander Kyle Kilgore who won his second game of the season to improve to 2-0. Kilgore pitched five strong innings, only allowing five hits and a walk while striking out four batters. Relievers Quentin Mansfield and Trey Gonzales came in and pitched the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, holding the Golden Grizzlies scoreless while only allowing one hit.
NM State jumped out in front with six runs on five hits and a couple of walks during the bottom half of the second inning. The big hit, of course, was Koerper’s three-run blast off of Oakland starter Chris Van Dyke, who was pulled after the inning.
After the Golden Grizzlies scored a run in the top of the fourth to make it 6-1, the Aggies came back with three runs in their half of the inning. Medina started off the inning with a bunt single and Goldstrom followed with a double to right-center that moved Medina to third.
One batter later Koerper came up and slammed a double to left-center, scoring Medina and Goldstrom and marking Koerper’s fourth and fifth RBI of the day. Koerper later scored himself on an RBI single by third baseman Derek Umphres. NM State led 9-1 after four innings of play.
Once again Oakland picked up a run in the top half of the next inning, only to see the Aggies come storming back with multiple runs of their own, this time a seven-run fifth inning that put the Golden Grizzlies and the game away for good. NM State would have six hits in the inning, including an RBI double by Medina and a two-RBI single by sophomore Kevin Carswell, who was pinch hitting for catcher Taylor Noyer.
The Aggies would go on to add another run in the bottom half of the sixth inning after a walk with the bases loaded by shortstop Kent Blackstone. Oakland would go down in order in the seventh as NM State picked up its seventh victory of the season, and first of the series, 17-2.
NM State will now hit the road for their longest road trip of the season. The Aggies will play 11-straight games away from home and will not return to Presley Askew Field until March 25 when they host rival New Mexico.
The road trip will take NM State to California for four games with UC-Davis and to Edinburg, Texas, to play Texas-Pan American. But the trip begins with a four-game series against Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. The series is set to begin Thursday, March 6, with one game each day until Sunday, March 9.