The New Mexico State baseball team will conclude its 11-game road trip where it began, in Texas, as the Aggies head to Edinburg, Texas, to open up the 2014 Western Athletic Conference schedule with a three-game series versus the Texas-Pan American Broncs beginning on Friday, March 21.
Friday’s game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. (MDT) start at Edinburg Baseball Stadium. Game two will be played on Saturday, March 22, beginning at 5 p.m. (MDT) while the series finale is set for Sunday, March 23, beginning at noon (MDT). Fans in Las Cruces can catch all three games over the radio airwaves on KSNM 570 AM with Jeff Mathews on the call.
NM State and the Broncs have met on 18 previous occasions on the baseball diamond with the Aggies holding a 13-5 advantage. The first meeting between the two schools was in 1986 and the most recent was in 2012 when NM State swept a four-game series in Las Cruces.
The Aggies begin their ninth WAC regular season with an 8-12 overall record. NM State is 1-7 on the road this season, picking up its only road win during its most recent series, at UC Davis. The Aggies won the first game of the series versus the Davis Aggies before losing the final three.
NM State once again is atop many WAC offensive categories including leading the conference in runs scored (126), hits (182), RBIs (115), home runs (11) and walks (115). The Aggie pitching staff also leads the WAC in strikeouts (129).
The Aggies have five players hitting over .300 including senior first baseman Kris Koerper who also leads the WAC with 19 RBIs and is tied with teammate Ryan Wagner for the conference lead in home runs with three.
Senior left-hander Chris Bradley is the probable starter for NM State during Friday’s opening game. Bradley is 1-2 with 25 strikeouts on the season and has a team-best 2.79 ERA among pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched.
Senior Kyle Kilgore has emerged as a double threat for the Aggie squad. The right-hander from Tucson, Ariz., is 2-1 on the mound this season with 12 strikeouts while also making an impact at the plate. Kilgore has 21 plate appearances and leads the team with a .381 batting average and a .667 slugging percentage.
Texas-Pan American, meanwhile, will play its first-ever conference game as a member of the WAC as the Broncs begin their first season in the conference. Texas-Pan American is 10-13 on the season and comes into Friday’s game on a four-game losing streak. The Broncs have played well at home, however, where they hold an 8-3 record.
Five of Texas-Pan American’s losses have come at the hands of top-25 teams Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. The Broncs did manage to pick up a 3-1 victory over No. 15 Oklahoma State during their three-game series.
Head coach Manny Mantrana, who is in his sixth season at the helm of the Broncs, coached the team to a 28-30 record last season as part of the now defunct Great West Conference. The 28 wins were the school’s second-highest win total in 13 years. The team also won a school-best 17 conference games.
NM State will face one of the best pitchers in the WAC on Friday in Bronc senior Sam Street. The right-hander was selected as the WAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year by College Sports Madness and has not disappointed. Street is 5-0 in five starts with a 0.84 ERA and a WAC-leading 37 strikeouts.
Offensively, senior outfielder Alex Howe, who was a WAC preseason first-team pick by College Sports Madness, leads Texas-Pan American with a .333 batting average and 12 RBIs. Howe has three doubles, a triple and a home run on the season.
Aggies in WAC Openers
NM State opens the 2014 WAC schedule this weekend against Texas-Pan American. The Aggies are 13-15 all-time in WAC conference series openers.
In fact, this will be the fifth straight season that NM State has started WAC play on the road and the seventh time since joining the WAC that the Aggies have opened conference play away from Presley Askew Field.
The only two home series to open WAC play came in 2007 and 2009. NM State holds a 4-3 in those series and a 9-12 record on the road.
The weekend series versus the Broncs will be the first time each team has faced each other as conference opponents.
Scouting the Broncs
Texas-Pan American is currently 10-13 on the season, holding an 8-3 record at home this season. The Broncs are hitting .240 as a team with 88 runs on 172 runs and six homeruns.
Three Broncs are hitting over .300 for the season. Alex Howe is leading the team at the plate with a .329 batting average with 25 hits, nine runs scored, 12 RBI and 34 total bases.
Ace Sam Street leads the Texas-Pan American pitching staff with 0.84 ERA on the year with a perfect 5-0 record. He has allowed four earned runs on the season with a team-high 37 strikeouts.
NM State-Texas Pan American Series
The Aggies and Broncs have played each other 18 times in program history, as NM State holds a 13-5 advantage in the series.
NM State and Texas-Pan Ameican first met back in 1986 in Edinburg, Texas. The Aggies would lose all three game on the weekend. Currently, NM State holds an eight game winning streak over the Broncs and are 13-1 over the last fourteen meetings.
The first four games between the two teams were played in the Texas-Pan Ameican Tournament in 1986 and 1987. All four games were lost by the Aggies.
This will be the first time in program history that the Aggies and Broncs will meet as conference opponents.
Kyle Kilgore Leads Aggies in Batting Average
Kilgore leads the Aggies with a .381 batting average. He has played in 10 games, including three starts this season. He has eight hits, including two doubles and one homerun. Kilgore has a .667 slugging percentage, which leads the team and has scored four runs so far this season. On the mound, Kilgore has started five games and has a 2-1 record. He has a 7.78 ERA and has pitched 19.2 innings. He has struck out 12 batters and opponents have a .355 batting average against him.
Derek Umphres Doesn’t Settle for One Hit
Umphres currently has the second-best batting average on the team at .370. He has 27 hits including five doubles, one triple and one homerun. He has earned 12 RBI and has scored 15 runs. Umphres leads the team in multiple-hit games with 10, including three three-hit games, and is the only Aggie with double-digit multiple-hit games.
Kristoffer Koerper Keeps Bringing in the Runners
Koerper has started all 20 games this season for the Aggies and has a .364 batting average. He has a slugging percentage of .558, which is second on the team and leads the team with 28 hits. He also leads the WAC with 19 RBI and leads the team with six multiple-RBI games this season. Koerper currently has safely reached a base in four straight games.
Kent BlackstoneBringing Consistency to Aggie Lineup
Blackstone has played in all 20 games this season, starting 19 of them. He has a .300 batting average, a .450 slugging percentage and a.468 on-base percentage. Blackstone has 18 hits and has scored 18 runs thisseason. He has hit four doubles, one triple and one homerun. Blackstone hasreached base safely in four straight games.
Christopher Bradley Defends the Mound
Bradley has started five games this season and has a 1-2 record. He has an ERA of 2.79, which leads all starters. He has pitched in 29.0 innings and has struck out 25 batters. Bradley has allowed just nine earned runs this season and has not surrendered a homerun. Opposing teams have a .241 batting average against him.
Riley Barr Stays Strong out of the Bullpen
Barr has pitched in nine games this season in relief. He has a 2-0 record and an ERA of 3.93. In 18.1 innings of work he has struck out 10 batters and has not allowed a triple or a homerun this season. Hitters have a .338 batting average against him.
Robert Kraft Piles Up Innings and Strikeouts
Kraft has started five games this season and has a 1-2record. He has a 4.15 ERA and has struck out 18 batters in 26.0 innings of work. Kraft has surrendered one triple and no homeruns this season and opposing batters have a .306 batting average against him.
Billy Conard Works as Relief and Starter
Conard has pitched in five games, including four starts. He has a 4.94 ERA and a 1-2 record. He has pitched 23.2 innings and has struck out 18 batters while surrendering 11 walks. Opponents have a .330 batting average against him this season.
UC-Davis Weekend Recap
The Aggies wrapped up a weekend series against UC-Davis. NM State was able to take the first game of the series against UC-Davis on Fri. March 14, by a final score of 6-4, but dropped the next three games in the series.
The Aggies marked 12 runs on 30 hits in the series against UC-Davis, with a .233 batting average as a team. Christopher Bradley got a victory in the first matchup on Fri. March 14. Bradley pitched six innings and finished with a 2.84 ERA on nine hits given up.
Derek Umphries, Kyle Kilgore, and Kent Blackstone all had a batting average of .308 or better during the series. Blackstone was able to rack up two doubles and one triple over the weekend.
Over the Last Five Games
During the last five games, the Aggies are 1-4 overall. NM State has six batters who had a .250 batting average or better, but were unable to tally any home-runs. NM State was able to tally only 16 runs in their last five games, while their opponent marked 33 runs. On the mound, the Aggies have an ERA total of 6.48 in their last five games, while their opponents averaged 3.00 ERA.
Looking back at the Last 10 for the Aggies
In their last 10 games, NM State is 18-18 on stolen bases. Leading the Aggies iscatcher Taylor Noyer, who marked 7-7 stealing bases in the last 10 games. During that streak the Aggies have a batting average of .283, while their opponents tallied .326. NM State is just 2-8 in the last 10 contests.
Aggies in the WAC
NM State is one of six teams in the Western Athletic Conference who have yet to play a conference game. Their overall record on the season is 8-12, which is good for sixth place in the conference. With an away series coming up against Texas-Pan American, the Aggies will look to turn things around and conclude their current three game losing streak. Through 20 games, NM State still headlines the majority of WAC statistics. The Aggies are either first or second in 13 categories including batting average (.281), slugging percentage (.384), on base percentage (.392) and RBI (115). Senior first baseman, Kristoffer Koerper, is having a magnificent campaign in his final season with the Aggies. Koerper leads the WAC in slugging percentage (.558), hits (28), home runs (3), at bats (77) and total bases (43). He is also second in the WAC in doubles (6), third in the WAC for on base percentage (.467) and first in the WAC in RBI with 19 on the season.